What bettors need to know: Baylor at UL Monroe
Baylor at Louisiana-Monroe (7, 69.5)
Arkansas and to a lesser degree Auburn both found out that Louisiana-Monroe is a bottom-tier FBS team only when it comes to its bottom line, and the Warhawks’ most anticipated home opener in years will help in that category. Kolton Browning and Louisiana-Monroe will host their first Big 12 opponent Friday as Baylor puts its eight-game winning streak on the line at Malone Stadium. The Warhawks, the biggest surprise of the season thus far, rallied from a three-touchdown deficit to beat then-No. 8 Arkansas 34-31 in overtime Sept. 8, and took Auburn to overtime before losing 31-28 last week. The Bears, in transition after losing Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III to the NFL, should be wary after struggling with FCS foe Sam Houston State for a half Saturday.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE: Baylor -7, O/U 69.5
WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the high 70s with clear skies at James L. Monroe Stadium. Winds will be light out of the south.
ABOUT BAYLOR (2-0): After a week off, the Bears looked flat and trailed 20-10 at the half against Sam Houston State before awakening from their daze. Griffin III’s replacement, senior Nick Florence, passed for 312 yards and three touchdowns, helping Baylor outscore the Bearkats 38-3 in the second half en route to a 48-23 victory. Florence also ran for 80 yards - including a key 60-yard scamper that set up Glasco Martin’s go-ahead score. Florence has completed 63.4 percent (45-of-71) of his attempts for 653 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions. He has been connecting with senior Terrance Williams (13 catches, 269 yards, two touchdowns) often. Meanwhile, the defense, which ranked 116th (out of 120 FBS teams), forced four turnovers last week.
ABOUT LOUISIANA-MONROE (1-1): The Warhawks haven’t had a winning season since joining the FBS in 1994, but early indications suggest this could be the year. Browning’s game-winning touchdown run against Arkansas vaulted them into the national consciousness and last week’s effort against Auburn proved it wasn’t a fluke. Browning (649 yards, six touchdowns, one interception) passed for 237 yards and three touchdowns, two of which game in the final seven minutes, but Louisiana-Monroe had a field goal blocked in overtime. Louisiana-Monroe’s defense needs a better effort after giving up 255 rushing yards to Auburn.
*Bears are 0-5 ATS in their last five road games.
*Warhawks are 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall.
*Over is 4-0 in Bears’ last four non-conference games.
*Over is 4-0 in Warhawks’ last four non-conference games.
1. “We went sent a message out that last week wasn't a fluke taking our second SEC opponent in a row to overtime," Warhawks’ redshirt freshman tight end Harley Scioneaux on the loss to Auburn.
2. Baylor’s eight-game winning streak is the second longest in the nation behind TCU (10).
3. Louisiana-Monroe sold an additional 16,000 tickets for its home opener after beating Arkansas.