Russell Athletic Bowl: Baylor vs North Carolina
There are two Baylors -- one with either QB Collins or Stidham, and one without. They will be the Baylor without for the Bowl game, though I guess at the very least they get "QB" Johnson back from a concussion. Johnson, as a converted WR, is still a bit of an unknown factor, as the bulk of his throws this year came in a tremendous downpour against TCU. What with UNC being much better defending the pass than the run, and with Baylor being a run-heavy offense to begin with, don't look for Baylor to ask Johnson to throw them to a victory in this game. Baylor gets RB Linwood back as well, giving them 3 RBs who've averaged more than 6 ypc this year. That's solid. Still, Baylor's running game hasn't been all that down the stretch, most of their stellar stats came early in the season against the likes of SMU, Rice and TTU. The only team with an above average run defense that BAY has shredded this year is WVU's. UNC is going to have to challenge BAY to pass, which is a pick your poison situation as they're bound to give up a long TD pass or three as a result. UNC's offense was strong and consistent all year, not having a single "worst" qualifying game running or passing all season. Perhaps surprisingly, the same is true of Baylor's defense -- consistently good with only one bad game against KSU. Ultimately, though, UNC's offense outranks Baylor's defense across the board, and I project that to get them the victory. *** For Bay lor, the following players are out: QB Stidham, WR Coleman, RB Linwood.
I recommended a 0.8% play on UNC +3 when the lines opened, and am adding 0.5% more on UNC -1.5 today.