Philadelphia, PA – Two of the worst teams in the Big 12 hook up in Waco, Texas, on Saturday when Baylor hosts Kansas. The two squads are a combined 0-9 in conference play.
Baylor (3-4) has lost its last four games while allowing a combined 210 points. The Bears even gave up 49 at home to TCU in Trevone Boykin's second career start at quarterback.
Baylor can light up the scoreboard on offense, but this game versus Kansas will not be the same type of shootout as other Bears contests have been, particularly those against West Virginia and Texas.
Kansas (1-7), which does not throw the ball as much as those two clubs, has averaged fewer than 30 passes per game while rushing 46 times per game. If the Jayhawks can effectively control the clock with James Sims (124 rushing yards per game), it's doubtful Baylor will be able to rack up 40 or more points.
Kansas has not won since beating FCS South Dakota State, 31-17, in Week 1, but four of its losses have come by a combined 18 points. Not only did the Jayhawks almost knock off Texas, but they led Northern Illinois by 10 points in the fourth quarter earlier in the season. Unfortunately for Kansas, the hometown Huskies came back to win by seven.
Baylor beat Kansas, 31-30, in overtime last year in Lawrence and that was with Robert Griffin III at quarterback. The Jayhawks, who led 24-3 heading into the final quarter, went for the win but failed to convert the two-point conversion.
The home field advantage should help the Bears, who are 8-1-1 both straight-up and against-the-spread in their last 10 games at Floyd Casey Stadium. However, take away the games Griffin III quarterbacked and they are just 1-1 both SU and ATS.
Kansas has lost 17 consecutive road contests while covering just four of them. Nevertheless, the Jayhawks are 3-1 ATS in the last four when getting between 7.5 and 19 points. Baylor is favored by 18.5 on Saturday.
Take Kansas plus 18.5 in this week's lone five-star play.
Thursday's matchup between Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky is an intriguing one. Both Sun Belt clubs are tied with Arkansas State at 3-1, one game behind ULM.
Western Kentucky lost its last home game to ULM, 43-42, in overtime. In fact, all but one of the Hilltoppers' Sun Belt games have been decided by eight points or less.
Middle Tennessee is 3-1 on the road, including a 21-point victory at Georgia Tech. An interesting tidbit for this series is that the home team has won just one of the six meetings.
Both squads had to travel on a short week, so neither club has the advantage in that regard. Expect a close game with the road team having a great chance to pull the upset.
Take Middle Tennessee plus nine points.
Maryland has had one crazy season. The Terrapins have lost their top four quarterbacks to season-ending injuries after Caleb Rowe tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the fourth quarter against Boston College. Former linebacker Shawn Petty will be under center running the option versus Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets should be able to stop the option since that is the same type of offense their defense goes up against during practice. In addition, Georgia Tech will find the going tough versus a Maryland defensive unit that is allowing 2.3 yards per carry. The Terrapins also have given up just three rushing touchdowns this season, which is third nationally behind only Notre Dame and Utah State.
Surprisingly, the over/under is 47. Take the under.
Georgia got a huge win over Florida, but it was more the Gators losing the game than the Bulldogs winning it. Florida turned the ball over six times and still had a chance to win.
Since crushing Vanderbilt, 48-3, Georgia has won three games by seven, five and eight points.
Mississippi comes to Sanford Stadium on a two-game winning streak with victories over Arkansas and Auburn. Prior to those contests, the Rebels lost by only three points to Texas A&M, a game they led by 10 midway through the fourth quarter. Hugh Freeze has them playing inspired ball and a close contest in Georgia is certainly not out of the question.
Take the Rebels plus 14 points.
Tulane has been a much different team with Ryan Griffin back at quarterback. The senior, who is completing 67 percent of his passes with an 11-2 touchdown-interception ratio, has guided the Green Wave to two wins in the last three games with the lone defeat coming by only four points at UTEP.
Rice comes into New Orleans a winner of just two of its last 24 games away from home. Furthermore, both victories came by a single point.
Take Tulane plus 4.5 points.
Go with Kent State -19.5 (Akron), East Carolina +2 (Houston), Utah State -26 (Texas State), LSU +10 (Alabama), Florida -17 (Missouri), Louisiana Tech -32 (Texas-San Antonio), Idaho +19.5 (San Jose State) and Texas +8 (Texas Tech).
Take Michigan State +2 (Nebraska) and Pittsburgh +16.5 (Notre Dame).
AFTER NINE WEEKS
My overall record through Week 9 is 67-55 after a 7-5 week. It would have been an 8-4 week if North Carolina State did not go into meltdown-mode in the fourth quarter.
This game was perhaps the worst loss in the history of gambling. I had the Wolfpack plus 7.5 points against North Carolina. The Tar Heels broke a 35-35 tie with 30 seconds left on a punt return for a touchdown. Then they muffed the snap on the extra point and the holder completed the two-point conversion with a pass into the end zone. That tally gave North Carolina the eight-point victory.
The five-star plays are now at 10-6, the three-star selections are 14-15, the two-star picks stand at 25-21 and the one-star plays are 18-13.
As a reminder, the five-star plays are when my personal plays coincide with my power rating plays (games with at least a five-point differential between my line and the actual line). The three-star choices are my personal picks, the two-star plays are the games the power rating system picks and the one-star plays are my personal secondary selections.
THIS WEEK'S JEFF FRANK "DIRTY DOZEN"
1) Alabama, 108.5; 2) Oregon, 107; 3) Florida State, 104.5; 4) Oklahoma, 100.5; 5) LSU, 99.5; 6-T) Kansas State, Notre Dame, Florida and USC, 99 ; 10) Georgia, 98; 11-T) Clemson and Texas A&M, 97.5
(The Top 12 is not a reflection of a given team's won-loss record. It is based on power ratings used to predict spreads for the upcoming week. At the beginning of the season, all 124 FBS teams are assigned a power number, which changes on a week-to-week basis depending on the results of the previous week.)