Previewing Baylor vs. Vanderbilt in the Texas Bowl: Date, Time, Spread, How to Watch

    Who: Baylor (6-6) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6) What: Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl When: 9 p.m. ET, Thursday, December 27 Where: NRG Stadium, Dallas, Texas

    December 26, 2018

    Who: Baylor (6-6) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6)

    What: Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl

    When: 9 p.m. ET, Thursday, December 27

    Where: NRG Stadium, Dallas, Texas

    Spread: Vanderbilt -4

    How to watch: ESPN, WatchESPN

    Baylor and Vanderbilt had to win in Week 13 to become bowl-eligible and both schools took care of business, defeating Texas Tech and Tennessee, respectively.

    A bowl win for the Bears would represent a six-win turnaround after they went 1-11 last season in the first year of Coach Matt Rhule’s tenure. The Commodores are searching for their first bowl win and first season with a winning record since 2013, which was former Vanderbilt Coach James Franklin’s final season at the school.

    One school will break through with a win, bringing it a step closer to returning to annual bowl appearances and being ranked in the AP Top 25. Vanderbilt is the favorite, according to Vegas.

    The Commodores are the 68th-best team in the country, according to Football Outsiders’ S&P+ rankings, compared to Baylor at No. 85. Both schools are better on offense than defense with Vanderbilt’s 45th-ranked offense ranked as the better unit in the game, according to the site.

    On a per-game statistical basis, the two schools have similar profiles.

    • Points per game: Baylor 28.3, Vanderbilt 27.7
    • Rushing yards per game: Baylor 159.5, Vanderbilt 157.5
    • Rushing yards allowed per game: Baylor 174.8, Vanderbilt 187.2
    • Passing yards allowed per game: Vanderbilt 232.6, Baylor 238.4

    Additionally, both schools rank among the 10 worst FBS teams at scoring in the red zone. Baylor scores 75 percent of the time it reaches the opponent’s 20-yard line, just one percent more than Vanderbilt. The Bears also struggle at getting stops once their opponent reaches the red zone. Baylor’s opponents score nearly 91 percent of the time once they reach the 20-yard line.

    Part of these offensive struggles in the red zone are due to each team’s kicking game. Vanderbilt is just 12-of-20 (60 percent) on field goal attempts this season and Baylor is 14-of-22 (63.6 percent).

    The two schools are on opposite ends of the turnover spectrum. Vanderbilt is plus-eight this season, while Baylor is minus-nine, which is one of the worst marks nationally. But like many Big 12 schools, Baylor has been able to move the ball through the air. The Bears average 282 passing yards per game, which ranks 22nd nationally.

    Baylor will be without their leading receiver, Jalen Hurd, who has 69 receptions, 946 receiving yards and four touchdowns this season. The senior recently underwent knee surgery.

    The Bears convert on third down more than 43 percent of the time, tend to win the time of possession battle and average roughly 17 plays from scrimmage per game that result in a gain of at least 10 yards.

    Given their respective conference affiliations, Baylor and Vanderbilt both played nationally ranked opponents this season. Each school came within a touchdown of upsetting a top-10 opponent but went a combined 0-8 in games against ranked opponents.

    Here’s how they fared:


    • Lost 66-33 at No. 6 Oklahoma
    • Lost 23-17 at No. 9 Texas
    • Lost 58-14 at No. 13 West Virginia
    • Lost 28-14 at No. 22 Iowa State


    • Lost 22-17 at No. 8 Notre Dame
    • Lost 41-13 at No. 2 Georgia
    • Lost 37-27 vs. No. 14 Florida
    • Lost 14-7 at No. 14 Kentucky


    Here’s a look at some of the statistical strengths and players to watch for both teams in the Texas Bowl.



    Passing yards per game: 282 (22nd)

    Third down conversion percentage: 43.7% (31st)

    Plays from scrimmage of at least 10 yards: 207 (20th)

    Average time of possession: 32:26 (20th)

    Players to watch

    QB Charlie Brewer — 2,635 passing yards, 61.5%, 17 TD, 8 INT

    LB Clay Johnston — 95 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss

    DT James Lynch — 40 total tackles, 9.0 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 6 QBH



    Points allowed per game: 25.1 (48th)

    Turnover margin: +8 (18th)

    Players to watch

    QB Kyle Shurmur — 2,844 passing yards, 64%, 23 TD, 6 INT

    RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn — 1,001 rushing yards, 7.0 avg., 10 TD

    WR Kalija Lipscomb — 81 receptions, 886 receiving yards, 9 TD

    LB Jordan Griffin — 110 total tackles, 5 passes deflected

    CB Joejuan Williams — 56 total tackles, 10 passes deflected, 4 INT


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