#19 OKLAHOMA (-28.0) 38 Baylor 17
Sam Bradford is reportedly back at quarterback for Oklahoma and Baylor is without their star quarterback Robert Griffin. However, there has been too much of an overreaction to those two developments. Having Bradford back should help an already good Oklahoma offense, but don't expect the Sooners to suddenly start averaging 50 points per game like they did last season. The receiving corps isn't as good this season and now top receiver Ryan Broyles is out, so Bradford is not likely to average the 14.4 yards per completion that he averaged last season or even the 13.2 ypc he averaged in 2007.
Oklahoma is averaging just 12.4 ypc this season and Bradford's 10 completions against BYU before getting injured averaged only 9.6 ypc. Bradford also isn't going to have as much time to sit back in the pocket and wait for his receivers to get open, as his offensive line last year was the best in college football and this year's group is inexperienced and clearly not as good. I still rate Oklahoma's pass attack at 2.3 yards per pass play better than average assuming Bradford completes his standard 69% of his passes and that would put the Sooners' offense at 1.3 yards per play better than average. Baylor has a pretty solid defense that's allowed just 4.6 yppl to teams that would combine to average 5.1 yppl against an average team. My math model would predict a modest 32 points for Oklahoma if they were a normal team, but the Sooners have proven to be more efficient offensively than most teams, as they've scored an average of 6 points more than their stats would suggest the last two years with Bradford at quarterback - and I'll assume that trend will still exist this season.
A projected 38 points for Oklahoma will make it tough for them to cover a 4 touchdown spread against a Baylor offense that is still likely to be good even without Griffin. Griffin was great last season as a slightly better than average passer and an exceptional 1034 yards on 145 running plays. Griffin was a slightly better than average passer again this season until getting hurt, but he had run for only 103 yards on 23 rushing plays (4.5 yprp is worse than average).
As a team Baylor is averaging 6.7 yprp and they're still at 5.8 yprp in 3 games against Division 1A opponents (Wake Forest, U Conn, and Kent) that would combine to allow just 4.3 yprp to an average team. The Bears' top 3 running backs combine to average 8.6 ypr this season and star Jay Finley (212 yards at 9.6 ypr in games against good defensive teams Wake and U Conn) is going to be back in the lineup today after missing two games.
I don't think that Baylor's good attack will miss Griffin given that his running stats were down and new quarterback Nick Florence averaged a solid 7.0 yards per pass play in his first start last week (against a Kent defense that would allow 7.0 yppp to an average quarterback). Baylor's offense still rates at 0.8 yppl better than average without Griffin, which is fairly close to Oklahoma's defensive rating of 1.2 yppl better than average.
The spread appears to be way too high here and I'll consider Baylor a Strong Opinion in this game with a solid 56.8% chance of covering at +28 points.
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