The Alamo Bowl is generally one of the better early-season bowl matchups, and I would say this year is no different. Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy early this month, and he’ll lead his Baylor Bears up against the Washington Huskies in this one.
The man they call RG3 is making the rounds in the media after picking up the coveted trophy. Can his Bears reach double-figures in wins in front of a friendly crowd in San Antonio?
Washington heads into a bowl game as a major underdog for a second straight year. Steve Sarkisian and the Huskies hope to be able to pull off a major upset again this year.
Last year, the Huskies won, 19-7, as an 11-point underdog to Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.
The Huskies offense might not have Jake Locker anymore, but they still have plenty of weapons.
Chris Polk is an electrifying runner with terrific cutting ability. Polk finished the season with 11 rushing touchdowns and four receiving touchdowns. Keith Price had big shoes to fill, and he did a terrific job in his first season under center. Price racked up 29 touchdown passes while throwing only 11 interceptions. Price connected on an impressive 67.4 percent of his passes this year.
The Huskies averaged 31.5 points per game in 2011.
Defense was a major problem for Washington in 2010, and this year was no different.
The rushing defense was improved compared to last year, but the secondary has been badly beaten constantly. The inexperience of the secondary really hurt this unit. Opponents torched the Huskies for 284 yards per game through the air.
A major problem for this defense was getting off the field on third down. Opponents converted on better than 49 percent of their third-down conversion attempts.
The Huskies gave up 33.3 points per game this season.
Art Briles has done more for the Baylor Bears football program than most casual fans realize. He has turned this team around in a big way in just a few short years. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have an ultra-talented quarterback like Griffin at the helm, but the Bears have talent all over the field on offense.
Griffin has been a great runner from the first day he got to Waco, Texas. It has been his accuracy through the air that dramatically improved. This is a quarterback who completed 72 percent of his passes in 2011. He also finished the regular season with 36 touchdown passes and just six interceptions.
Terrance Ganaway’s versatility in the backfield really helped keep defenses honest. Kendall Wright piled up 101 catches and 13 touchdown receptions this year.
This Baylor Bears offense is a well-oiled machine that finished second in the nation in total offense.
Defensively, the Bears have struggled all season. The offense has had to outscore opponents on a weekly basis due to the team’s defensive limitations. Phil Taylor was the Cleveland Browns top pick, and the Bears definitely missed having him on the front line.
This unit couldn’t stop anyone most of the season. Baylor gave up 279 rushing yards per game, which was 102nd out of 120 teams in the nation. The pass defense was even worse. The Bears finished 112th in pass defense this season as they allowed 279 yards through the air each game.
2011 Alamo Bowl Odds: Washington vs. Baylor
Baylor opened as 10-point favorites in this one, according to college football odds, but some money has pushed the number down to nine.
The total has been where the real movement has been. The posted total opened at 75 points, but it has quickly been bet up to 78.5.
Alamo Bowl: Washington vs. Baylor Betting Trends
Washington is 5-1 ATS in their last six bowl games.
Baylor is 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
The ‘over’ is 16-4-1 in Baylor’s last 21 games.
2011 Alamo Bowl Predictions: Washington vs. Baylor Betting Picks
Baylor should have a strong home-field advantage in this one.
The Bears defense makes it difficult to lay the points with them, because they could easily give up 40 points in this game. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine Washington slowing down the Bears.
The posted total has been moving up and for good reason. I think it is more likely this game finishes with 100 points than 60 or less. The ‘over’ is the best value in this game.
Doc Moseman is the owner of Doc's Sports football picks Web site.