Two teams in need of a boost will meet this Saturday (10/7/23) in Waco as the Texas Tech Red Raiders visit the Baylor Bears. Get Texas Tech vs. Baylor odds, predictions, and picks below as our best bet is Texas Tech to win, at -115 odds on the moneyline.
Texas Tech Vs. Baylor Best Bet
Both of these teams came into this season with a bit of hype, and neither has come anywhere close to living up. Baylor was pitched as a major bounce-back candidate after a rough 2022 in the wake of a near bid at the College Football Playoff in 2021, but they shockingly lost to Texas State, and currently own a 2-3 record. Their losses to Texas and Utah were much more understandable than the debacle against State, but the fashion in which they lost each one was concerning. Of course, starting quarterback Blake Shapen was out for both of those matchups, and backup Sawyer Robertson was flat-out awful in relief.
Shapen is back, and he put in a solid return performance against UCF in Baylor’s last game as he tossed for almost 300 yards on 34 attempts with a touchdown and no picks. The offense looked completely different with him back under center, and he led the Bears on a furious comeback as they came back all the way from a 35-7 deficit, including 26 unanswered fourth quarter points. That being said, the win was fluky to a degree. The exact number differs depending on your source of choice, but UCF had a postgame win expectancy well over 90%. Baylor was outperformed but still one, leading them to be a bit overpriced this week.
Tech, who are also 2-3 right now, never cracked the AP Poll this season, but they were the top team in the group of “others receiving votes” in the preseason edition, and also 24th in the Coaches Poll at that time. They failed to deliver on the hype in the slightest, as they lost to Mountain West squad Wyoming in a couple of overtimes to kick off the season. They then suffered a more “impressive” loss to Oregon, by just eight points, but their most recent loss was to a West Virginia team that has rarely looked particularly strong outside of that game.
In addition to the strategic sell on Baylor after a fairly lucky win, there’s another, much simpler reason to bet on Tech in this one; defense. Tech has one, as they’re top-50 in per-play EPA despite playing that out of conference game against Oregon, and Baylor genuinely does not; they’re 124th in the same category. For context, there are only 133 FBS teams, and one of the few with a comparable defensive EPA mark is actually UCF, which brings us to another major point; it makes sense that Baylor looks better with Shapen back, but it’s important to note that the Golden Knights’ defense isn’t much of a test, and even so, Shapen and company failed that test for almost three quarters. Simply put, Tech is perhaps a bit unlucky to be 2-3, but Baylor just might be lucky it’s not even worse than that.
Texas Tech Vs. Baylor Best Bet: Texas Tech ML (-115)
Texas Tech Vs. Baylor Betting Odds
Baylor is an underdog of just one point, or -105 on the moneyline. Tech is set at -115 to win, and for a total of 60.5, both sides are -110.
Texas Tech Vs. Baylor Key Matchups
With one relatively balanced offense and another that has a definitive skew in one direction, let’s take a look at how these defenses can approach the task of slowing them down.
Texas Tech Rushing Offense vs. Baylor Run Defense
Texas Tech offensive coordinator Zach Kittley hasn’t been afraid to run the ball this year; the Red Raiders have done so nearly 36 times per game, despite the fact that they’ve often been playing from behind, and they’re averaging a very solid five yards per carry. Their ground attack is also top-25 in the nation in terms of EPA per play, and senior running back Tahj Brooks is at the center of it all. He’s already getting close to his career-high yardage as he’s run for 518 yards, placing him in the top ten in the country, at a rate of 6.2 per carry, and is the definite workhorse for this offense.
He’s going up against a Baylor run defense that has been simply dreadful, 121st in the country in terms of EPA per play, 126th in PFF’s rankings, and they allow 184 yards per game on the ground at a clip of five per carry. This is one area where Dave Aranda’s defense has not experienced anything close to the bounce-back that many projected, and the mismatch is a major reason I have Texas Tech taking home the win in my Texas Tech vs. Baylor prediction.
Baylor Air Attack vs. Texas Tech Pass Defense
Conversely, Baylor will need to be competitive through the air to stay competitive in the game, as their rushing offense may not be enough to consistently set up manageable down and distance against Tech’s solid defense. The return of Shapen is a boost that cannot be overstated; he’s no Caleb Williams or Drake Maye, but Robertson was absolutely dreadful; he has completed less than 50% of his passes this year, and threw just one touchdown to four interceptions.
Despite Robertson’s best efforts, Baylor has a couple of receivers who have gotten off to solid starts this year. Monterey Baldwin and Ketron Jackson Jr. have both cracked the 200-yard plateau, and the former is averaging an eye-catching 23.2 yards per reception. Drake Dabney has been a leader in the scoring department, as he has recorded touchdowns on a team-high three of his 12 catches.