We're still a few months away from the return of college football, but the anticipation is slowly building across the country with spring practices in the books. There's plenty of optimism surrounding the Baylor football team with David Aranda entering his fourth season as the Bears' head coach. Below, we continue our college football odds series with an over/under win total prediction for Baylor.
Baylor kicked off last season with high expectations and had a target on its back as a top 10 team after securing the Big 12 crown with a 12-2 record in David Aranda's second season at the helm.
The Bears got off to a relatively hot start last September, smoking Albany and Texas State and coming out on top in a hard-fought conference clash with Iowa State. But they were outclassed by BYU's offense in a gut-wrenching double-overtime loss, and that was a theme that reappeared throughout the season.
In a marquee matchup and conference championship rematch in early October against Oklahoma State—the No. 9 team in the country at the time—the Bears were wrangled by the Cowboys' balanced offense and dynamic special teams in a 36-25 defeat. With injuries to starting quarterback Blake Shapen and running back Craig Williams, Baylor followed it up after the bye week with a heartbreaking 43-40 loss at West Virginia to return to .500 at the midway point in the season.
Baylor bounced back by running wild in a shootout win against Oklahoma and blowout wins over Kansas and Texas Tech. The Bears wrapped up the season with three top 25 teams—Kansas State, TCU, and Texas, and they lost each matchup, bringing their record to 0-5 on the season against ranked opponents. Air Force then beat Baylor 30-15 in the Armed Forces Bowl.
It was a colossal letdown for a program following a 12-win season in 2021, as the Bears struggled with inconsistency and red zone inefficiency on offense and dealt with regression on defense (30.7 points allowed in conference play compared to 19.8 PPG in 2021), after losing second-round safety Jalen Pitre (Texans), third-round safety JT Woods (Chargers), third-round linebacker Terrel Bernard (Bills), and seventh-round cornerback Kalon Barnes to the NFL draft.
The Bears lost third-round defensive tackle Siaki Ika (Browns) this year, but he was Baylor's only drafted prospect. They lost some players to the transfer portal, but they had a solid recruiting class, and did even better in the transfer portal.
Will coach David Aranda have the Bears back ready to contend in the ever-changing Big 12? Without further ado, let's take a look at Baylor's over/under odds.
Here are the latest college football odds, courtesy of FanDuel
College Football Odds: Baylor Over/Under Win Total
Over 7.5 Wins: +152
Under 7.5 Wins: -188
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Why Baylor Could Hit The Under
The Bears were left off of our list of way-too-early college football playoff rankings heading into the summer and they'll face some daunting tests this season. That includes five ranked opponents once again, based on our rankings. Three of Baylor's opponents share the same implied win total, and two of them are expected to win more games than the Bears.
Averaging a whopping 32.2 points per game (41st best in the country) last season, Baylor's offense shouldn't be an issue, pending a good bill of health. Likely operating with four new starters on offense that were picked up through the transfer portal could lead to some early growing pains in tough early-season tests against Utah and Texas, however.
But aside from the schedule, the bigger factor in Baylor's over/under pick will be the defense, which allowed an aforementioned 30.7 points per game against Big 12 opponents last year.
While Cincinnati, Texas Tech, Kansas State, TCU, and Iowa State each have dealt with recent turnover, all five programs could pose some real obstacles as potential sleeper teams in 2023. That's obviously in addition to Baylor's two toughest opponents—at least on paper—against Utah and Texas in September.
Why Baylor Could Hit The Over
Despite the daunting schedule, the Bears should be playing with a chip on their shoulders after the way their 2022 season ended. A healthy bulk of their starters are still returning on both sides of the ball.
Wide receiver Ketron Williams and tight end Jake Roberts should have significant impacts as transfers out of Arkansas and North Texas, respectively. Developing continuity quickly will be key for an offensive line that's featuring four new starters and two from the transfer portal out of BYU in brothers Campbell Barrington and Clark Barrington. At the very least, the ground game should continue to roll with Richard Reese leading the way as a focal point of the offense.
Baylor also ended up with nose tackle and Hutchinson Community College (KS) transfer Jerrell Boykin Jr., one of the top FCS players from the transfer portal, per CFN's Cam Mellor. A standout run defender, Boykin has big shoes to fill with the departure of Siaki Ika but redshirt senior defensive linemen Gabe Hall and TJ Franklin will help with the transition. While the secondary is relatively unproven, the front seven is loaded with talent and experience.
Final Baylor Over/Under Pick & Prediction
Baylor is currently fifth in the odds to win the Big 12 and the Bears will have their hands full with the obstacles on their schedule. As the year progresses, health, depth, and leadership will be key factors for David Aranda and Baylor's over/under odds.
Final Baylor Over/Under Pick & Prediction: Under 7.5 Wins: -188