The West Virginia Mountaineers hope to regain their footing in the Big 12 title race when they host the upstart Baylor Bears on Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET. Both teams will be well-rested coming off a bye and motivated to get a win that could change their fortunes. West Virginia saw its undefeated start come to an end when it suffered a loss at Iowa State, while Baylor came up just short of an upset at Texas in its previous game.
The Mountaineers are 13.5-point favorites after the line climbed as high as 14. The over-under for total points scored has shot up from 62 to 67.5 in the latest West Virginia vs. Baylor odds. Before you lock in your West Virginia vs. Baylor picks, check out what SportsLine senior analyst Josh Nagel has to say.
A Nevada-based expert with 20 years of experience in the sports wagering industry, Nagel specializes in handicapping college football. He's having another solid season for SportsLine members, hitting on 60 percent of his spread selections. Moreover, he has had a sharp eye for handicapping these clubs, with a record of 10-3 on against-the-spread picks involving either Baylor or West Virginia. This run includes a remarkable 6-0 record on Baylor games.
Just two weeks ago, Nagel advised SportsLine members that Baylor was likely to catch Texas in a letdown spot following the Longhorns' upset of Oklahoma. He recommended backing Baylor as a two-touchdown underdog and, sure enough, the Bears pushed Texas to the wire in a 23-17 loss. Anyone who followed Nagel's advice picked up another easy winner.
Now, Nagel has scrutinized West Virginia vs. Baylor from every possible angle to reveal a strong point-spread pick that he's sharing only at SportsLine.
He knows high-powered West Virginia (5-1) rolled through its first five games with an average margin of victory of 23 points. But two weeks ago, it ran into an Iowa State club that has developed a habit of playing spoiler to playoff-contending Big 12 opponents. The Cyclones dominated in the 30-14 victory. The Mountaineers were held to 152 total yards and went scoreless in the second half.
Even so, Heisman candidate Will Grier leads an offense that is averaging 37 points and 320.5 passing yards. The defense also has been stout, allowing just 20.5 points per contest. In last year's 38-36 win over the Bears, Grier threw for 375 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions as the Mountaineers racked up 493 yards of total offense.
But that doesn't mean West Virginia is destined to cover against a Baylor team that is making strides in its second season under Matt Rhule.
Rhule was hired to pick up the pieces left by former coach Art Briles. A rebuilding curve was anticipated, but few observers expected a Baylor team with decent returning talent to pick up just one win in Rhule's first season. But that's what happened, as the Bears lost to an FCS foe and every other opponent on their schedule except Kansas, which saved the Bears from a winless campaign.
Baylor was blown out in most of its conference losses, but the Mountaineers were the only opponent which the Bears stayed within one score against. Expectations were somewhat meager this year, but Baylor has shown signs of quickly climbing back to respectability. Baylor needs just two more wins to reach a bowl game and has three of its final five games at home.
We can tell you Nagel is leaning toward the Over, but he also has identified a crucial x-factor that makes one side of the spread a must-back. He's only sharing it at SportsLine.
Who covers in Baylor vs. West Virginia? And what crucial x-factor makes one side of the spread a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see which side you need to jump all over Thursday, all from the expert who's hitting 77 percent of his spread picks involving these teams.