As the school and football program continue to move on from the mess under the Art Briles regime, the Baylor Bears could still be a player in the Big 12. They made a solid coaching move hiring Matt Rhule from Temple and have some talented skill position players leftover. Under interim coach Jim Grobe last season the Bears won six regular season games and snatched a bowl victory. Things will be a little different in Waco under Rhule, who built the Owls into a legitimate program with a strong defense. The run and gun days may be over, but the Bears will continue to be competitive.
2016 Record: 7-6 SU, 4-9 ATS, 4-9 O/U
2017 Regular Season Win Total: 7.5
National Championship Odds: +50000
Odds To Win Big 12: +3500
If the Bears were going to suck last season would have been the time. They were dealing with the fallout of the numerous scandals by players under Briles and the former coach took the fall prior to the start of the season. Grobe patched things together and got the team off to a great start winning their first six, including a victory over Oklahoma State. But as the schedule became more difficult, the wins stopped coming.
The Bears would lose their next six and with the exception of a 1-point game against Texas and a 3-point loss to West Virginia, they were outclassed. The team saw a number of players transfer after Briles was let go and the gap between them and the best of the Big 12 became a bit wider. Even with a tough transition, the Bears were able to qualify for a bowl game. They handily beat Boise State 31-12 in the Cactus Bowl.
The offense continued to work under Seth Russell and the Bears ranked sixth in the FBS in yards per game. The numbers were skewed thanks to a weak non-conference slate and early demolitions of the sorrier teams in the conference. Zach Smith did a nice job after Russell got hurt and showed that he’s the leading candidate at quarterback after tearing up Boise State in the bowl game.
We will see a different Baylor team than in years past. The offense will reel it in a bit and the defense will be challenged to slow opponents down on a more consistent basis. Rhule is a former linebacker and he turned Temple into a fierce defensive team during his stay. Work needs to be done on that side of the football with the Big 12 known for its offensive fireworks. A more deliberate offensive approach will help the Bears to slow teams down, and that’s what Rhule has in mind.
Temple ranked 10th in time of possession last season and Rhule will bring the same style to Waco. Defenders will spend less time on the field and the scores will be less like that of an Arena Football League game. Not that the Bears don’t have the offensive weapons. They certainly do and it starts at quarterback. Smith is back as the likely starter, but Arizona transfer Anu Solomon didn’t join the club to be a backup. There will be healthy competition.
The running game is in good hands with the duo of Terence Williams and JaMycal Hasty and the offense will feature more pro sets with the use of, ugh, tight ends. That’s something we rarely saw under Briles, but those days are behind us. Rhule seems like a good fit for the program. He’s a tough leader and understands what it takes to build a winner. It just might take him a few years to get the Bears back to the top of the Big 12.
Week 1: Baylor vs. Liberty, Saturday, September 2
Week 2: Baylor vs. Texas-San Antonio, Saturday, September 9
Week 3: Baylor at Duke, Saturday, September 16
Week 4: Baylor vs. Oklahoma, Saturday, September 23
Week 5: Baylor at Kansas State, Saturday, September 30
Week 6: OFF
Week 7: Baylor at Oklahoma State, Saturday, October 14
Week 8: Baylor vs. West Virginia, Saturday, October 21
Week 9: Baylor vs. Texas, Saturday, October 28
Week 10: Baylor at Kansas, Saturday, November 4
Week 11: Baylor vs. Texas Tech, Saturday, November 11 (ATT Stadium)
Week 12: Baylor vs. Iowa State, Saturday, November 18
Week 13: Baylor at TCU, Friday, November 24
|SEC Conference||Big 10 Conference|
|ACC Conference||Big 12 Conference|
|Pac 12 Conference||Big East Conference|
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