Baylor is a much better team than Buffalo. We suspected it coming into Friday, and now we have proof in the form of a 63-21 Baylor victory. The Bears raced out to a 35-0 halftime lead and the game was over. Buffalo fought admirably in the second half but, even with Baylor mostly playing its second string, the Bulls were still outscored 28-21 in the final two quarters. Baylor outgained Buffalo 669 to 394, a margin that would seem silly had that Bears not made us so accustomed to it over the past several seasons.
Cincinnati has been a volatile team under Tommy Tuberville, and the Bearcats' 58-34 win over Toledo was a perfect microcosm of how their up-and-down seasons have gone. Quarterback Gunner Kiel came out firing bullets (go ahead and brace yourselves for three more years of gun-related puns), throwing four touchdowns in the first half alone. The Rockets could not slow down the Bearcats' offense and mustered little enough of their own. They trailed 34-0 early in the second quarter and it looked like Cincinnati was on its way to a Baylor-style Friday night blowout. But Toledo forced the Bearcats to go three-and-out on all three of their third quarter possessions, giving quarterback Logan Woodside and the Rockets' offense a window to work their way back into the game and cut the deficit to 41-34. But Kiel turned it back on again in the fourth quarter, tossing a pair of touchdown passes in the final frame and putting the game out of reach.
Three things we learned
1. Bryce Petty seems to be healthy. The Bears' star quarterback cracked two bones in his back in their season opener against SMU was held out of their 70-6 win over Northwestern State. But Petty showed no ill effects on Friday night, throwing for 416 yards and four touchdowns before giving way to backup Seth Russell. If Baylor is going to make a run at the Big 12 championship and a bid in the College Football Playoff, keeping the Heisman contender healthy is going to be very important.
2. Gunner Kiel looks great. After flipping his commitment from Indiana to LSU to Notre Dame and then transferring from South Bend after his first year on campus, Gunner Kiel became something of a punchline among college football fans. But Kiel seems to have settled down just fine in Cincinnati, Ohio, thank you very much. He torched Toledo's defense for 418 yards and six (six!) touchdowns in his very first college game. If he can play this well all season -- to say nothing of the chance that he might improve as he gets more experience -- the Bearcats are going to be serious contenders for the AAC championship.
3. We need better Friday night games. Friday night is often a dumping ground for television shows that networks are probably going to cancel or have already canceled. There's no reason that Friday night football games have to be treated the same way, right? Why not mix things up and have, say, Georgia and Florida play every year on a Friday night? If you schedule good games for Friday night, people will watch.