The new kid on the block gets its first Big 12 test when West Virginia hosts Baylor Saturday.
The Mountaineers, one of two new programs to the 10-team conference, will welcome 60,000 frenzied fans to Milan Puskar Stadium for their Big 12 debut. The two new-found rivals have never met before and WVU is 9-4 SU versus Big 12 opponents, going back to 1928.
"It's a new season, man," Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith told the Star-Telegram. "It's all about the conference."
West Virginia has fit the bill as far as Big 12 tendencies are concerned, sitting third in the nation in passing and 10th overall in points scored while giving up almost 400 yards and 22.3 points per game. The Mountaineers defense has left something to desire, having looked soft in its two games versus FBS competition this season.
Baylor is cut from a similar cloth, putting up an average of 51.3 points on 568.7 yards per game. But the Bears stop unit is allowing 29.7 points an outing and watching their three opponents (SMU, Sam Houston State, UL Monroe) average 492.7 yards – 117th out of 124 FBS teams.
The Sports Club, a Nevada-based odds service, sent out a suggested spread of WVU -10.5, however, most early numbers have the Mountaineers as 12.5-point home chalk. It seems a raucous home-town crowd and a lesser of two evils – or two terrible defenses – is worth a little more to the spread.
Here are opening spreads for some of Week 5’s biggest college football games:
Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan State Spartans (-2.5)
This spread has already been bet down to -2 at some online books, with early money fading the home side. The Sports Club sent out a suggested spread of a pick’em for this Big Ten opener.
The biggest knock against the Spartans is their offense, which is mustering only 21 points a game – 105th in the land. Ohio State has rolled out to a 4-0 record versus non-conference competition but has just one ATS win to show for in that span. The Buckeyes offense will run into a MSU defense ranked sixth in the country, allowing 233.5 yards per game, and giving up just under 12 points an outing.
Texas Longhorns at Oklahoma State Cowboys (+2.5)
The Cowboys are keeping hush-hush on the status of QB Wes Lunt, who suffered a knee injury two weeks ago. Backup J.W. Walsh stepped in against UL Lafayette, passing for 347 and four touchdowns.
Head coach Mike Gundy, who has a well-documented disdain for the media, listed his pivots as co-starters for Saturday’s showdown in Stillwater but local beat writers expect Walsh to start the game even if Lunt is active. This spread will be one of the bigger movers-and-shakers as the weekend draws closer.
Wisconsin Badgers at Nebraska Cornhuskers (-13)
The Badgers are playing the waiting game with star RB Montee Ball and the head injury he suffered in last weekend’s win over UTEP. Wisconsin has been one of the biggest disappointments of the young college football season, especially for bettors who have suffered through a 0-4 ATS record.
The Sports Club sent out a suggested spread of Nebraska -13 and most opening numbers stayed true to that figure. The Badgers do have two capable replacement backs in James White and Melvin Gordon, but the Huskers have a lot more firepower and a solid home-field edge in Lincoln.
Check out all the opening odds for Week 5 of the college football season.