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by - 12/29/2010 2:54 PM Share


Reliant Stadium - Houston, TX

Kickoff: Wednesday, Dec. 29, 6:00 p.m. EDT

Line: Baylor -1, Total: 63

This evening, two teams that have not had much bowl history lately meet in the Texas Bowl in Houston. This will be the first time since 1994 that Baylor goes bowling and Illinois hasn't made a non-BCS bowl appearance since 1999.

Baylor started the 2010 college football season 7-2 before getting drubbed in its final three games by a combined score of 150 to 82. The Bears only had one win versus a team participating in a bowl this postseason, a 47-42 home victory over Kansas State. Baylor is adept at moving the ball in a variety of ways, ranking 20th in passing offense (278 YPG) and 23rd in rushing (201 YPG). Senior RB Jay Finley's 1,155 yards this year rank second on Baylor's single-season rushing list. Quarterback Robert Griffin only has one touchdown and three picks during Baylor's three-game losing skid.

The Illinois Fighting Illini were more competitive in their recent losses, dropping three of their past four college football games by just eight total points. Illinois will look to control the clock with the 13th-best rushing offense in the land (242 rush YPG) led by Mikel Leshoure (126 rush YPG). The Illini rank a sad 115th in passing offense (143 YPG) as quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has only two 200-yard passing games this year. He has passed for a mere 101 yards in his past two games, but has also rushed for 228 yards (5.3 YPC) in the two-game stretch.

The Baylor Bears are playing in their first bowl since losing the 1994 Alamo Bowl, 10-3 to Washington State. The Bears' last bowl win was the 1992 Sun Bowl when they beat Arizona 20-15. Baylor is 8-8 all-time in bowl games, and the Bears will be bowling in Houston for just the fourth time (2-1 SU). Illinois is 6-9 SU in 15 all-time bowls, and hasn't won since the 1999 Bowl. As bettors know the Illini has played in (and lost) two BCS bowls since then, including a 49-17 defeat to USC in the 2008 Rose Bowl.

The Texas Bowl, which used to be called the Houston Bowl, has featured Texas schools in seven of its 10 games in its history. Since 2002, the team playing in its home state is 5-0 SU and 4-0-1 ATS. Although 6.5-point underdog Navy crushed Missouri 35-13 last year, the favorite is 7-2 SU and 6-2-1 ATS in the last nine Texas Bowl games. gives another four-star reason to pick slightly-favored Baylor to win in its home state:

ILLINOIS is 0-10 ATS (-11.0 Units) after allowing 6.25 or more yards/play in 2 consecutive games since 1992. The average score was ILLINOIS 10.9, OPPONENT 32.6 - (Rating = 4*).

Oddsmakers advice bettors to take the Over:

Play Over - All teams where the total is between 56.5 and 63 (BAYLOR) - off 1 or more straight overs, in a game involving two good offensive teams (28-34 PPG).

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