Baylor lost to Duke in football on Saturday, 34-20. The Bears finished non-conference play 0-3 and now look destined to miss a bowl game in Matt Rhule’s first year as coach.
The composition of Baylor’s losses is especially bad:
- Week 1: 48-45 to FCS Liberty, which ran up almost 600 yards of offense and torched the Baylor defense so bad that we Yakety Sax’d a Liberty touchdown.
- Week 2: 17-10 to UTSA, an in-state startup program that plays in Conference USA
- Week 3: 34-20 to Duke, by which I mean the football team and not basketball or lacrosse
This has always been a bit of a rebuilding job for Rhule. He took over for the fired-in-disgrace Art Briles, and Baylor’s recruiting had declined in the year since Briles’ firing amid a sexual assault scandal. But Baylor’s still a Big 12 school with a big talent base in its own state, and it just got whomped against an uninspiring non-league slate.
Also, before this game, Baylor did an “Oklahoma drill” that is not the Oklahoma drill:
The Oklahoma drill involves blockers and ball-carriers. This thing does not.
Baylor used to dominate non-conference, making this downfall even starker.
Under Briles, Baylor lined up the most hopeless suckers possible to be part of its non-league schedules. Baylor cruising past bad teams became a September institution. This was the product of a generally smart desire to play as many low-risk games as possible:
The Bear September is the product of an excellent team playing a schedule that is beautiful for everyone but fans who'd prefer to see Baylor play good teams. If I were an AD and didn't have to worry about playing big-money games, this is the schedule I'd give my team to play, and my coaches would write me direct messages of gratitude.
Baylor’s 2016 non-con schedule: Northwestern State, SMU, and Rice.
2015’s: SMU, Lamar, and Rice.
2014’s: SMU, Northwestern State, and Buffalo.
2013’s: Wofford, Buffalo, and ULM.
You get the idea. Those games were boring, but Baylor won them. These games were kind of boring, too, except Baylor lost all of them. The Bears have made a rapid descent.