2013 Baylor football's 10 things to know: Hip, trendy, and ready to stay a while

Cooper Neill

Baylor is winning recruiting battles versus Texas, building a ridiculous new stadium, and becoming the hippest, trendiest football program in the country. Baylor! But are the Bears ready for a run at a conference title? For more Baylor, visit Our Daily Bears.

Confused? Check out the glossary here.

1. A sea change

Generally speaking, college football is cold and slow to handle change. You are what you are, and while your short-term fortunes can change, well, the term regression toward the mean was meant for college football. But sometimes the ground changes beneath your feet, and you don't even realize it until it's already happened.

4, 2, 2, 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 5, 4, 3, 4, 4. That's the number of games Baylor won in each of its first 14 seasons in the Big 12. Dave Roberts won four games in two years as head coach. Kevin Steele won nine in four. That Guy Morriss actually managed a 5-6 season at one point was a pretty big deal.

Baylor's fortunes were so bad that they changed history; one of the most common Big 12 narratives was how Baylor used political string-pulling to get into the Big 12 instead of an obviously more deserving TCU program. (Winning seasons in the 17 years before Big 12 formation: Baylor 12, TCU 4.) We just accepted that narrative as truth because Baylor just seemed to have no hope, no history, and no future.

As Art Briles begins his sixth year in charge in Waco, however, things have not only changed, but changed dramatically. Now we're talking about Baylor as a Big 12 dark horse. We're writing series of posts (part one, part two) about how to try and stop the Baylor offense. We're talking about the possibility of the program winning its second Heisman in three years. We're talking about strength records and new stadiums. We're talking about Texas (Texas!) being unable to compete with Baylor (Baylor!) on the recruiting trail (well, at one position, anyway). This is up-is-down, left-is-right territory. Briles, full of piss, vinegar, offensive prowess and an accent so thick that it invades the written word, has not only made us forget what Baylor used to symbolize, but he has also made this program the hip new college football school.

Baylor!

College football doesn't change much, but when it does, it evidently doesn't go halfway. Granted, the Bears' turnaround has only stretched about three years so far, but the foundation for a long-term run of success is in place. Now we just have to find out whether change reaches the defensive side of the ball in Waco. It did at the end of last season, but that's not exactly a huge sample size.

2. Holding steady without the Heisman

As ridiculously impressive as it was for Briles to craft a 10-win season in his fourth year in Waco, his accomplishments in Year 5 might have been even more staggering: he held steady. Without quarterback Robert Griffin III, star receiver Kendall Wright, running back Terrance Ganaway, and two all-conference offensive linemen, the Baylor offense fell all the way from second in Off. F/+ to third. The defense improved from 87th in Def. F/+ to 79th, and at the end of the day Baylor ranked just four spots lower overall (30th) than it had in its transcendent, supposedly once-in-a-generation season (26th).

The close-game record changed the win total -- Baylor went 4-1 in one-possession games in 2011 and 3-3 in 2012 -- but maintaining your status after you lose breakthrough talent is really, really impressive. And perhaps more than anything else, that type of system maintenance, the proof that your program is more than just one person, is what gives recruiting a boost.

2012 Schedule & Results

Record: 8-5 | Adj. Record: 11-2 | Final F/+ Rk: 30
Date Opponent Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L
2-Sep SMU 59-24 W 56.5 - 31.8 W
15-Sep Sam Houston State 48-23 W 32.3 - 30.7 W
21-Sep at UL-Monroe 47-42 W 34.5 - 36.7 L
29-Sep at West Virginia 63-70 L 39.0 - 43.1 L
13-Oct TCU 21-49 L 51.3 - 34.3 W
20-Oct at Texas 50-56 L 39.9 - 35.6 W
27-Oct at Iowa State 21-35 L 35.5 - 32.0 W
3-Nov Kansas 41-14 W 28.6 - 27.5 W
10-Nov at Oklahoma 34-42 L 30.4 - 27.7 W
17-Nov Kansas State 52-24 W 41.8 - 19.3 W
24-Nov vs. Texas Tech 52-45 W 41.3 - 37.6 W
1-Dec Oklahoma State 41-34 W 41.2 - 24.9 W
27-Dec vs. UCLA 49-26 W 37.7 - 16.2 W
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Points Per Game 44.5 5 37.2 113
Adj. Points Per Game 39.2 5 30.6 88

3. Are three games enough?

If not for Louisville, I think Baylor might have been a prime candidate for the West Virginia Effect™, due to which we severely overreact to a great bowl performance and give a team far more of a boost in the preseason polls than it deserves. Baylor laid an outright whipping on UCLA, the Pac-12 runner-up, in the Holiday Bowl in December, sprinting out to a 35-7 lead and coasting to an easy 49-26 win. The offense was great, of course, but what got people's attention was the defense. Baylor sacked UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley six times and held the Bruins to 13 points in their first 12 drives. (The only touchdown came from a 21-yard drive following a Baylor fumble.) We got to see a vision of the aggressive 4-2-5 defense Phil Bennett has spent a couple of years devising, and it was beyond intriguing.

And really, the improvement didn't just take place in the bowl game. It began a couple of months earlier.

Adj. Points per Game (first 9 games): Baylor 38.7, Opponent 33.3 (plus-5.4)
Adj. Points per Game (last 4 games): Baylor 40.5, Opponent 24.5 (plus-16.0)

Baylor lost four games in a row in late-September and October, allowing 52.5 points per game and losing two tight contests at West Virginia and Texas. But the defense improved to an average level against Kansas and Oklahoma, then surged. Baylor was somewhere between above average and great against Kansas State, Oklahoma State, and UCLA.

So ... are three games enough, then? Late-season improvement can be sustainable if you return enough of your core, and between safety Ahmad Dixon, corner Joe Williams, and linebackers Bryce Hager and Eddie Lackey, Baylor does seem to have an impressive number of play-makers returning. The Football Outsiders projections are going to be conservative toward Baylor because of past defensive history, but how much of this tiny glimpse of quality can we expect to see in 2013?

The answer to that question will dictate whether we're talking about another eight-to-10-win season or a second major breakthrough in three years. The offense will almost certainly be excellent; that much, we know. But the defense is the reason why Baylor still has yet to rank in the F/+ top 25.

Offense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 2 12 11 15
RUSHING 14 12 6 23
PASSING 4 12 18 13
Standard Downs 20 13 28
Passing Downs 5 5 5
Redzone 30 12 65
Q1 Rk 7 1st Down Rk 9
Q2 Rk 10 2nd Down Rk 8
Q3 Rk 9 3rd Down Rk 12
Q4 Rk 8

4. The ultimate spread

Teams that want to bring outside defensive backs on blitzes or disguise which players will be covering the slot receivers have tremendous difficulty doing so when the receivers are so far away from the offensive line.

If you want the Baylor QB to wonder whether you are blitzing off the edge or covering the slot receiver, you'll have to really book it right before or after the snap in order to reach your assignment, or the QB will have a pretty open pitch-and-catch for easy yardage.

That's from a great Football Study Hall piece on Baylor's offense. There are spread offenses, and there are spread offenses. Baylor stretches you from sideline to sideline, forces you to make decisions and sacrifices, then punishes you for whatever you decided. If you pay too much attention to the track stars on the perimeter, Baylor destroys you with the run up the middle. If you mind the middle, you get destroyed either on the perimeter or over the top.

The Bears are going to threaten to set records on you one way or another; you get to decide whether they do it via ground or air.

The Baylor spread offense is, conceptually, what the spread offense was designed to be. Baylor combines ridiculously fast skill position players with mean, burly linemen and smart, interesting quarterbacks. Briles and coordinator Philip Montgomery give the quarterback a lot of rope and a lot of options, and it has paid off handsomely. And because of both brains and improved recruiting, Baylor's offense rivals Oklahoma State's for the best plug-and-play offense in the country. It speaks volumes that the Bears are on their third quarterback in three years, a mid-three-star recruit who has thrown just 14 passes in his career, and we are simply assuming that he is going to throw for 3,500 to 4,000 yards and rush for 500-plus.

Bryce Petty and Glasco Martin. Jerome Miron, US Presswire.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2013 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards Comp
Rate
TD INT Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Nick Florence 286 464 4,309 61.6% 33 13 18 3.7% 8.8
Bryce Petty 6'3, 230 Jr. *** (5.6) 7 10 97 70.0% 1 0 1 9.1% 8.5
Seth Russell 6'3, 200 RSFr. *** (5.5)







Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
TD Adj.
POE
Glasco Martin RB 6'1, 220 Sr. **** (5.8) 179 893 5.0 5.5 15 +4.0
Lache Seastrunk RB 5'10, 210 Jr. ***** (6.1) 131 1,012 7.7 8.4 7 +29.8
Nick Florence QB 121 652 5.4 4.5 10 +7.1
Jarred Salubi RB 116 464 4.0 2.1 3 -7.3
Bryce Petty QB 6'3, 230 Jr. *** (5.6) 9 17 1.9 2.6 1 -1.3
Johnny Jefferson RB 5'10, 195 Fr. *** (5.7)





5. If you're looking for a red flag…

...you might want to pay attention to the depth at running back and offensive line. You can only hope to slow this offense down by dominating in the trenches and forcing it to become one-dimensional, and Baylor is just a couple of injuries from making that possible.

Make no mistake: The starters are good to great. Lache Seastrunk clicked midway through last season, becoming the primary running back over the last six games and gaining 831 yards (a ridiculous 8.1 per carry) in that span. Almost overnight, the Oregon transfer transformed into the five-star prospect he was supposed to become. His emergence, meanwhile, made Glasco Martin one of the best backup running backs and short-yardage specialists in the country. Meanwhile, up front Baylor has an all-conference guard in Cyril Richardson and a couple of experienced, mean SOBs in tackles Spencer Drango and Troy Baker.

But the two-deep on the line is filled with sophomores and redshirt freshmen, and there is virtually no experience at running back after Martin and Seastrunk. If two of the five players above go down, then there are some very young, untested players getting major minutes.

Now, if the biggest red flag you can find starts with "If somebody gets hurt...", then you're probably talking about a tremendous offense. And we are.

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Yds/
Target
Target
Rate
%SD Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Terrance Williams WR 151 97 1832 64.2% 12.1 33.7% 65.6% 12.2 245.1
Tevin Reese IR 5'10, 170 Sr. ** (5.4) 85 53 957 62.4% 11.3 19.0% 74.1% 11.5 128.0
Lanear Sampson WR 82 52 646 63.4% 7.9 18.3% 65.9% 8.1 86.4
Levi Norwood IR 6'1, 185 Jr. *** (5.5) 53 40 487 75.5% 9.2 11.8% 56.6% 9.0 65.2
Antwan Goodley WR 5'10, 220 Jr. *** (5.6) 25 17 171 68.0% 6.8 5.6% 52.0% 6.7 22.9
Lache Seastrunk RB 5'10, 210 Jr. ***** (6.1) 14 9 107 64.3% 7.6 3.1% 78.6% 6.7 14.3
Jordan Najvar TE 6'6, 260 Sr. NR 12 10 80 83.3% 6.7 2.7% 66.7% 6.9 10.7
Jarred Salubi RB 12 8 44 66.7% 3.7 2.7% 41.7% 4.4 5.9
Clay Fuller WR 6'1, 205 Jr. NR 5 3 39 60.0% 7.8 1.1% 40.0% 8.0 5.2
Darryl Stonum WR 3 3 51 100.0% 17.0 0.7% 66.7% 15.8 6.8
Jay Lee WR 6'3, 210 So. *** (5.7)








Corey Coleman IR 5'10, 190 RSFr. **** (5.8)








Lynx Hawthorne IR 5'11, 200 RSFr. *** (5.5)








Shock Linwood IR 5'8, 200 RSFr. *** (5.5)








Kaleb Moore WR 5'11, 190 RSFr. ** (5.2)







Robbie Rhodes WR 6'1, 186 Fr. **** (6.0)








Vequan Jones WR 6'4, 201 Fr. *** (5.7)








6. The receiving corps: probably not a red flag

Baylor was strangely thin at receiver last year, with four receivers accounting for 83 percent of all targets. Now two of those four are now gone. Terrance Williams eased into the No. 1 role with no problem following the departure of Kendall Wright, and there's no guarantee that Tevin Reese's transition will be as smooth. Plus, there is almost no proven wide receiver (as opposed to inside receiver) on the roster, and there is almost no way to avoid relying on true and redshirt freshmen to some extent. This has all the makings of another red flag...

...but I just can't get myself to worry about it. Can you? Reese and Levi Norwood are tremendous inside receivers, redshirt freshman Corey Coleman should ease into the rotation with relative ease, and one of those true freshmen is Robbie Rhodes, the No. 8 receiver in the country (No. 69 overall, No. 8 in the state of Texas) according to Rivals.com. With Lache Seastrunk commanding quite a bit of attention, new starting quarterback Bryce Petty (who has earned Phil Steele's preseason all-conference nod before his first start) should still find plenty of easy throws to make.

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 117.7 3.30 3.71 40.6% 66.7% 15.6% 141.6 2.5% 5.5%
Rank 8 11 18 46 62 14 28 21 47
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Career Starts/Honors/Notes
Cyril Richardson LG 6'5, 335 Sr. *** (5.5) 29 career starts; 2012 2nd All-Big 12
Ivory Wade C 46 career starts
Cameron Kaufhold RG 38 career starts
Spencer Drango LT 6'6, 315 So. **** (5.8) 13 career starts
Troy Baker RT 6'6, 315 Jr. *** (5.7) 13 career starts
Jake Jackson RG 3 career starts
Kelvin Palmer RT 6'4, 290 Sr. *** (5.5)
Stephan Huber C 6'4, 290 Sr. *** (5.5)
Desmine Hilliard RG 6'4, 330 So. ** (5.4)
Pat Colbert LT 6'5, 295 So. *** (5.5)
LaQuan McGowan LG 6'7, 375 So. *** (5.6)
Kyle Fuller C 6'4, 295 RSFr. *** (5.7)
Tre'Von Armstead RT 6'6, 280 RSFr. *** (5.5)
Jason Osei RG 6'4, 315 RSFr. NR
Maurice Porter OL 6'5, 285 Fr. *** (5.7)

Defense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 123 77 81 78
RUSHING 78 71 75 70
PASSING 123 77 88 75
Standard Downs 69 73 68
Passing Downs 90 93 89
Redzone 75 53 93
Q1 Rk 71 1st Down Rk 62
Q2 Rk 85 2nd Down Rk 51
Q3 Rk 30 3rd Down Rk 112
Q4 Rk 79

7. Get the ball back, one way or another

I wrote a book this offseason, one I will be pounding you over the head about soon enough. One of my favorite quotes in it comes from Bob Stitt, head coach of the Colorado School of Mines.

Playing bend-don’t-break defense doesn’t work. You want to keep the opponent’s defense on the field; you want fast drives, for better or worse.

I don't know how much Stitt and Briles have ever associated with each other, but they are kindred spirits. In 2012 especially, Baylor's defense was fast, aggressive, disruptive, and all sorts of leaky. Baylor recorded a decent 66 tackles for loss, an above average 71 passes defensed, and a strong 13 forced fumbles. And they also allowed 6,529 yards.

Phil Bennett, of course, knew what he was getting into when he took the defensive coordinator job under Briles.

It's almost 100 percent we're gonna have to play more snaps. We're gonna have to play more guys. If Art can score 49 points, we can hold 'em to 39. That's the thing you look at. On defense you've gotta play good red zone, get some big takeaways, and do what we do. I might not have the numbers I had earlier in my career, but I'll win more games than I ever did before.

The Bears were more successfully aggressive late in the season, and we can take guesses as to whether that is maintainable, but here's what we know: in the six-game, season-ending stretch that saw Baylor playing much better defense, there wasn't one specific aspect of the game that consistently improved. Kansas averaged 6.7 yards per rush (a huge number), but Kansas State and UCLA each averaged 3.1. Texas Tech averaged 8.8 yards per pass, but UCLA and KSU averaged 5.1 and Kansas averaged 2.9.

  • Baylor opponents, first 7 games: 4.8 yards per rush, 8.3 yards per pass
  • Baylor opponents, last 6 games: 5.3 yards per rush, 6.2 yards per pass

Baylor's run defense was great against good running teams and suspect against others, and the overall pass defense improved by quite a bit. Sustained improvement in pass defense could happen with the players Baylor returns, but only if it gets a lot more help from the pass rush than it did in 2012.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 97.7 2.85 3.40 39.8% 70.9% 16.1% 70.3 2.2% 4.5%
Rank 69 52 81 70 85 101 104 117 98
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Terrance Lloyd DE 6'3, 245 Jr. *** (5.6) 13 41.5 5.1% 9 4 0 0 2 1
Chris McAllister DE 6'3, 255 Sr. *** (5.5) 13 35.0 4.3% 8 6 0 6 2 1
Gary Mason, Jr. DT 13 22.5 2.8% 6 2 0 5 0 0
Nick Johnson NT 13 14.0 1.7% 1 0 0 2 1 0
Beau Blackshear NT 6'4, 300 So. *** (5.6) 13 11.5 1.4% 1 0 0 0 0 0
Javonte Magee DT 6'5, 275 So. **** (5.9) 9 8.0 1.0% 1 0 0 0 0 0
Cordarius Golston DE 6'0, 225 Sr. *** (5.6) 12 4.0 0.5% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Trevor Clemons-Valdez DT 6'3, 290 So. *** (5.6) 10 4.0 0.5% 0 0 0 0 0 1
Jamal Palmer DE 6'3, 245 So. *** (5.5) 8 3.0 0.4% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Suleiman Masumbuko DT 6'2, 290 So. *** (5.6) 13 0.5 0.1% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Shawn Oakman DE 6'9, 270 So. **** (5.8)

Brian Nance DE 6'3, 250 Fr. **** (5.8)
Andrew Billings DT 6'1, 305 Fr. **** (5.8)






8. Rushing the passer in the Big 12: kind of a necessity

Baylor recorded six sacks against UCLA. That's awesome and leaves us with quite the West Virginia Effect. But the Bears only logged 13 sacks in the first 12 games, an absolutely awful total considering how many pass attempts you face in the Big 12. Only three Bears had more than two sacks last year, and while all three return, they need more.

Chris McAllister is a particularly disruptive end, and Bryce Hager is a strong blitzer, but Baylor still had almost the nation's worst standard downs pass rush in the country. No matter how active the secondary is, it can only guard Big 12 receivers for so long.

Until proven otherwise, UCLA was the outlier here, not the new rule. Exciting, enormous Penn State transfer Shawn Oakman and four-star freshman Brian Nance are exciting additions, but there's potentially a long way to go here.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Bryce Hager MLB 6'2, 235 Jr. ** (5.3) 13 98.0 12.0% 11 4 0 1 2 0
Eddie Lackey WLB 6'0, 225 Sr. *** (5.6) 13 87.5 10.7% 13 2 4 1 1 1
Brody Trahan WLB 5'11, 245 Sr. ** (5.3) 13 21.0 2.6% 2 0 0 0 0 0
Rodney Chadwick LB 9 11.5 1.4% 0 0 1 1 0 0
Aiavion Edwards MLB 6'1, 225 RSFr. *** (5.7)
Kendall Ehrlich WLB 6'1, 225 RSFr. *** (5.6)
Raaquan Davis LB 6'2, 208 Fr. *** (5.7)






Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Ahmad Dixon S 6'0, 205 Sr. **** (5.9) 13 84.0 10.3% 6 1 2 3 0 0
Sam Holl NB 6'2, 210 Sr. *** (5.5) 13 73.5 9.0% 1 0 3 7 2 2
Chance Casey CB 13 70.5 8.6% 2 0 0 5 1 0
Mike Hicks S 9 60.0 7.4% 0 0 2 6 0 1
Joe Williams CB 5'11, 190 Sr. **** (5.8) 13 46.5 5.7% 1 0 3 12 0 0
K.J. Morton CB 5'10, 190 Sr. ** (5.4) 7 30.5 3.7% 1 0 1 1 2 0
Josh Wilson S 13 22.5 2.8% 0 0 0 1 0 0
Demetri Goodson CB 6'0, 200 Sr. NR 4 15.5 1.9% 2 0 1 2 0 0
Darius Jones CB 5'11, 190 Sr. *** (5.7) 13 12.0 1.5% 0 0 1 0 0 0
Prince Kent NB 6'3, 220 Sr. **** (5.8) 13 5.5 0.7% 1 0 0 0 0 0
Terrell Burt S 5'10, 185 So. *** (5.5) 13 3.5 0.4% 0 0 0 0 0 0
JeMarcus Johnson S 6'1, 175 So. *** (5.5) 9 3.0 0.4% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Anthony Webb S 6'0, 190 So. *** (5.5)
Ryan Reed CB 5'9, 195 RSFr. *** (5.7)
Orion Stewart S 6'2, 185 RSFr. ** (5.3)
Xavien Howard CB 6'2, 200 RSFr. ** (5.2)
Kiante' Griffin NB 6'0, 215 Fr. *** (5.7)
Alfred Pullom DB 6'1, 187 Fr. *** (5.7)



9. The back seven is active

With any sort of pass rush at all, the strength of the Baylor defense -- an active back seven -- could wreak havoc. Hager and Eddie Lackey combined for 24 tackles for loss last year (and yes, facing a ton of plays does pad your defensive stats in some ways), safeties Ahmad Dixon and Sam Holl combined for seven tackles for loss and 15 passes defensed, and Joe Williams had 15 passes defensed on his own. You can tell what Bennett is trying to do here, but while the Bears are guaranteed to allow points and yards, they still need to cut down on the errors and increase the disruption up front to threaten for the Big 12 title.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Spencer Roth 6'4, 225 Jr. 36 43.8 4 8 13 58.3%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB TB%
Aaron Jones 6'3, 190 Sr. 95 58.7 39 41.1%
Chris Winkler 4 47.2 0 0.0%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Aaron Jones 6'3, 190 Sr. 71-71 11-16 68.8% 5-11 45.5%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Antwan Goodley KR 5'10, 220 Jr. 24 22.6 0
Darius Jones KR 5'11, 190 Sr. 11 23.1 0
Darryl Stonum KR 8 19.1 0
Levi Norwood PR 6'1, 185 Jr. 14 10.4 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 102
Net Punting 68
Net Kickoffs 74
Touchback Pct 45
Field Goal Pct 104
Kick Returns Avg 70
Punt Returns Avg 52

2013 Schedule & Projection Factors

2013 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
31-Aug Wofford NR
7-Sep Buffalo 101
21-Sep UL-Monroe 86
5-Oct West Virginia 41
12-Oct at Kansas State 40
19-Oct Iowa State 76
26-Oct at Kansas 104
7-Nov Oklahoma 7
16-Nov vs. Texas Tech 42
23-Nov at Oklahoma State 6
30-Nov at TCU 16
7-Dec Texas 11
Five-Year F/+ Rk 53
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 34
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* +2 / +0.1
TO Luck/Game 0.7
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 13 (6, 7)
Yds/Pt Margin** -0.6

10. All I ask, Sports God…

…is to see Alabama and Baylor play against each other at some point while Nick Saban and Art Briles are still in charge. These two teams very nearly play different sports, and I really want to see what Saban would try to do to stop the Briles attack.

I also want to see what Baylor is capable of this season. The future is bright and seemingly getting brighter, but the Big 12 is in flux, and it is certainly conceivable, even likely, that a version of Baylor with even just a top-50 defense could threaten to reach its first BCS-grade bowl since the 1957 Sugar Bowl.

I can't predict that, though. The schedule is conducive for a lofty win total, with three rather easy non-conference home games (I'm not sleeping on ULM, but it's still a game Baylor should win) and Oklahoma and Texas at home. But to win the conference, the Bears will probably have to win at either Oklahoma State or TCU, and I just can't pick that right now.

Still ... that I had to slowly talk myself out of Baylor winning the Big 12 is staggering. After winning 26 games in seven years (and 17 the seven years before that), Baylor has won 25 in three and should rather easily nab at least another eight, minimum, this year. Art Briles is an unbelievable coach, and the moment he figures out the right chemistry on defense, things get even scarier for the rest of the Big 12.

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