This Thursday the No. 12 ranked Baylor Bears will host the West Virginia Mountaineers in a rare weeknight matchup out of the Big 12. Kickoff is set for 8:00 EST at McLane Stadium and will be televised on ESPN. Both teams are coming off a bye in Week 9, so each will be well rested and prepared for this contest.

Oddsmakers opened up this line at Baylor -17.5 and it’s still available at a couple places, but most have jumped the number to the Bears -18. The total for this contest is at 57 points.

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West Virginia vs Baylor Game Preview & Betting Odds

West Virginia Mountaineers (3-4 SU, 2-4-1 ATS)

Last time we saw the Mountaineers they got annihilated 52-14 at Oklahoma as a 32-point underdog. West Virginia has now lost and failed to cover in 3 straight in Big 12 play. The three straight losses are no shocker, given their last three were against Texas, ISU and Oklahoma.

Mountaineers need to find a way to win 3 of their final 5 games to get to bowl eligibility for a sixth straight season and for the first time under new head coach Neal Brown.

Defense has definitely been a problem in Big 12 play. West Virginia is giving up 39.0 ppg and 444.0 yards/game in conference games. The offense was decent in their first two Big 12 games with 29 at Kansas and 31 against Texas, but they totaled just 14 against both the Sooners and Cyclones.

Baylor Bears (7-0 SU, 4-3 ATS)

The remarkable rebuilding job of Matt Rhule at Baylor continues. After going just 1-11 in his first season the job, Rhule guided the Bears to a 7-6 record and bowl win last season. He now has Baylor ranked in the Top 15 and in prime position to at least make the Big 12 title game.

Last time we saw the Bears they pulled off a stunning 45-27 win at Oklahoma State as a 6-point underdog. It wasn’t a complete surprise they won the game. The shocking part was they trailed 20-10 with less than 10 minutes to play in the 3rd quarter and wound up winning by 18.

Baylor offense might not be as potent as it was during the Art Briles days, but it’s one of the best in the country in 2019. Bears rank 12th in the nation at 39.1 ppg. What separates this team from those that Briles guided is the defense. Baylor is 19th in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 19.1 ppg.

Matchup History

The series has been dominated by West Virginia of late. The Mountaineers secured their 3rd straight win over the Bears with a 58-14 victory at home last year. Easily covering as a 14.5-point favorite.

Free College Football Betting Selection: West Virginia +17.5

My early lean here would be take the points with West Virginia. You just have to believe we are getting value with the Mountaineers in this one. With this one of just two college games on the board Thursday, it’s going to get a lot of action. No way the public will want anything to do with West Virginia given their last two games ending in lopsided losses and Baylor sitting there at 7-0 and ranked No. 12 in the country.

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Note that while Baylor lost 38-14 at home to ISU, that was 14-14 at the half. They also only trailed Oklahoma 28-14 at the half before getting outscored by 24 in the final two periods. They only lost by 11 at home to Texas, despite a -3 turnover differential (outgained Longhorns 463-427). This team has what it takes to compete with Baylor.

I also don’t love how Rhule’s team has responded coming off a bye. Last year their only bye came the week before they got annihilated by West Virginia. This year they had an early bye before going to Rice and wound up winning 21-13 as a 27-point favorite.

Baylor has also been a horrible bet under Rhule as a home favorite. They are a mere 2-7 ATS as a home favorite since Rhule came to the program. That includes a 33-30 win at home over Texas Tech as 10.5-point favorite.

Another thing you have to keep in mind with West Virginia is they have played a brutal schedule. Six of their first seven opponents have been against Power 5 teams, as they played both Missouri and NC State in non-conference. Mountaineers are giving up 33.4 ppg, but their opponents offensive average is 32.0. They are giving up 408 ypg, which is actually under their opponents average of 447. Baylor’s opponents averages ar e just 27 ppg and 358.6 ypg, so you can see how much easier their schedule has been. Give me West Virginia +17.5!