College Football Week 1 Best Bet: A new-look Texas State offense can test Baylor to start the season

2M4RY43 Fort Worth, Texas, USA. 22nd Dec, 2022. Baylor Bears quarterback Blake Shapen (12) drops back for a pass during the 1st half of the NCAA Football game between the Air Force Falcons and Baylor Bears at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. Matthew Lynch/CSM/Alamy Live News

• Improvements for Texas State: Wide receiver transfers from SMU and Incarnate Word complete the offensive upgrades, and we are likely to see a much more efficient offense than the one Texas State was able to field last year.

• Thin on defense: Lorando Johnson (75.0) and Alfahiym Walcott (75.4), two of the program's highest-graded players last season, both transferred to Arkansas. Devin Neal (68.4) is now a Louisville Cardinal, and Siaki Ika and Christian Morgan are now in the NFL in some capacity.

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Estimated reading time: 4 minutes


Week 0 gave us a taste of football action, but the season really kicks off this week with a full slate of games and many opportunities to find some inefficiencies within the betting markets.

Last week, I highlighted a potentially high-scoring affair between San Diego State and Ohio. Unfortunately, that never materialized, partly due to Bobcats QB Kurtis Rourke suffering an injury at the end of the first quarter. So, we fired a blank to open the season.

There were seven FBS and three FCS games last week, and it gave us a glimpse of the new clock structure and how it may impact scoring. Although plays were down — roughly five offensive plays per team — and seven of the 10 games went under the totals, I’m still not yet convinced that scoring will be down as much as the market suggested when the new rules were announced.

A one-sided game, such as the Notre Dame-Navy clash that ended up 20 points wider than the closing spread, is never a recipe for scoring. As previously mentioned, losing a starting QB in the first quarter is also detrimental to offensive success.

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Texas State @ Baylor: Texas State +28 (-110 with Caesars) & Money Line (+1800, Caesars)

This market has made for interesting viewing over the last month or so, opening at 27 before being bet down to 24/25 at the start of August. But over the last few days, it has moved right back beyond its starting point and now sits at 27.5 — and that is a lot of points to cover for a team with something to prove.

This matchup closed at 30.5 last year, and since then, Texas State has improved a great deal. Baylor, on the other hand, lacks depth and is depleted on defense. The current 27.5-point spread is a step in the correct direction, but it can be argued that it has not moved enough.

Texas State hired an excellent new coach from Incarnate Word in G. J. Kinne, and they immediately hit the transfer portal hard, bringing in almost the entire offensive line from Incarnate Word’s FCS semifinal-reaching roster. All members of the line graded well last season, so there should be a marked improvement up front.

Texas State Baylor
Power Rank: Overall 101st 33rd
Power Rank: Defense 49th 22nd
Power Rank: Offense 104th 56th
SOS Played
Avg Offensive Snaps 71.9 74.2
% Run Plays 40.00% 51.20%
% Pass Plays 60.00% 48.80%
EPA Per Run -0.15 0.08
EPA Per Pass -0.16 0.08

Two SEC quarterbacks in Malik Hornsby (Arkansas) and T.J. Finley (Auburn) decided to drop down a level to compete for the starting job at Texas State, and this battle still seems undecided, as they are listed as co-starters on the latest depth charts.

Wide receiver transfers from SMU and Incarnate Word complete the offensive upgrades, and we are likely to see a much more efficient offense than the one Texas State was able to field last year when the spread was only three low-value points higher than the current number.

Baylor, on the other hand, made small improvements over the summer, but QB Blake Shapen’s job might not be safe for long, with Mississippi State transfer Sawyer Robertson breathing down his neck.

Texas State Baylor
PFF Grade 58.7 78.9
Passer Rating Clean 93.2 100.4
Passer Rating Under Pressure 50.2 60.9
Big-Time Throw % 3.33% 3.88%
Turnover-Worthy Play % 4.11% 3.02%

Shapen graded well enough last season, but his turnover-worthy play rate was on the high side — he recorded 15 big-time throws and 13 turnover-worthy plays across 421 dropbacks. He will need to cut out the mistakes to give Baylor chances in conference games later in the season

However, Baylor's current concern is the lack of depth on defense. Lorando Johnson (75.0) and Alfahiym Walcott (75.4), two of the program's highest-graded players last season, both transferred to Arkansas. Devin Neal (68.4) is now a Louisville Cardinal, and Siaki Ika and Christian Morgan are now in the NFL in some capacity.

Tevin Williams and Chateau Reed enter the campaign as the starting outside corners, yet they played a total of 250 snaps between them last year. Across the defense, multiple redshirt freshmen are either starting or will be the immediate backup to the starters.

There are a lot of questions to be answered across the board for this Baylor team, and if they’re not up to the task, then this new-look Texas State offense can give them a good test to start the season.

I don’t expect Texas State to get the outright win, of course, but the 18/1 currently available is the kind of upside worth buying in uncertain situations such as this.

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