Holiday Bowl Preview
December 27, 2012
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Baylor (+3) vs. UCLA (-3); Total set at 82
For those of you out there that love offensive football, make sure to tune into this game because the scoreboard operator will be getting a workout. Baylor comes into this game with the top ranked offense in the country, averaging nearly 580 yards per game and 44.1 points per game. To borrow a basketball term, Baylor loves to play the run-and-shoot, getting off plays every 15 seconds or so and wearing down a defense by not allowing them time to rest and compose themselves. UCLA has been in their share of shootouts this year having played in the Pac-12, so don't expect them to shy away from one of those games that see the team with the ball last win.
Baylor may be first in yards per game, but the Bruins aren't exactly duds in that category either, ranking 20th in the country at 475 yards per contest. UCLA is coming off two straight losses to Stanford (regular season and Pac-12) and know that despite finishing 9-4 SU this year, many pundits still overlook them when talking about the Pac-12 Conference. Teams like Stanford, Oregon and even Oregon State had very strong years and you can never forget about USC even though they had a tough go of it in 2012. Playing in their home state tonight UCLA has a chance to finish with 10 wins for the first time since 2005 and they get to do it against one of the worst defenses in the country. Baylor may rank 1st in yards per game on offense, but they also rank 2nd last in yards allowed per game and give up over 38 points per contest. Baylor can afford to play like that when they can score the way they do, but up against good teams they are playing with fire because if they get stopped on a few drives, coming back in a game with a defense like this is a really difficult task. UCLA will aim to get up on the Bears early and build a lead against this horrendous defense and force their opponents to make mistakes trying to come back. UCLA is 4-1 ATS in their last five vs. winning teams and have covered the number in two of their last three Bowl games.
But the side could go either way in a game like this as Baylor's offense could, and likely will go off as they always do. Baylor has scored at least 41 points in four of their past five games and eclipsed the 41 point-mark in nine of their 12 contests this season. This is the fourth time this season that a Baylor game has seen a total of 80 or more and they are 2-1 O/U in the previous two contests. In those three games they allowed 63, 45 and 34 points respectively so it's safe to say UCLA will score in the high 30's at a minimum. Chances are Baylor does the same as no matter what kind of defense they are playing they find a way to put up 30 or more.
Many bettors are scared of playing high totals to go "over" but if you remember that they are set this high for a reason, watching the points rack up becomes a lot easier. This total opened up at 78 and has been bet up to this current number with less than 60% on the high side. Points will be scored in this one and with Baylor 5-0 O/U in their last five non-conference games and UCLA cashing tickets for over bettors in their last six, don't be shy of this high total.
Take the over.