Spring football is over and we now all begin the countdown to the Big 12 Media Days, Fall Camps, and then, yes, the start of the 2018 college football season. So with that being said, let’s have some fun and take a look at the best-case and worst-case scenarios for every team in the Big 12 conference. We will start rolling these out throughout the month of May. Agree? Disagree? Don’t be afraid to let us know in the comments below!
We now take a closer look at the Baylor Bears, who begin Year 2 under head coach Matt Rhule and are coming off a one-win season in 2017. But as the program continues to come out of the shadows of the sexual assault scandal under Art Briles, things should improve in Waco. Or should they?
2018 Baylor Bears: Worst-Case Scenario
The Bears start off the season with a couple of winnable games against Abilene and UTSA. Wait, isn’t that what we said last year? The Bears lost last season to Liberty and UTSA to start the season and were never able to get back on track. Questions remain for the Bears on the offensive line and defensive line, which can define a program’s season. If the offensive line doesn’t improve on the Big 12-worst 37 sacks it gave up last season, then the potential improvement of Charlie Brewer will be stunted. As a result, his new weapons like Jalen Hurd will also not be able to have the impact many expected.
Then, if the defensive line continues as one of the worst in the conference, the Bears will be in even more serious trouble. Before their bye week in mid-October, the Bears have to play Oklahoma, Kansas State and Texas, three teams that will love to pound the rock this season. The only “gimme” in the first half of the season should be Kansas, because a non-conference against Duke is no longer a lay up thanks to David Cutcliffe’s improvements with the program. A 2-4 start, with wins over Abilene and Kansas will crush the forward momentum this program tried to build in the offseason, and then out of the bye it’s a night game in Morgantown, always a difficult place to play, never mind it being on a Thursday. The Bears lackluster defense will get carved up by Will Grier and Co. So that’s a 2-5 start, and that’s followed up by Oklahoma State, at Iowa State and then TCU, before wrapping up a neutral site match up in Dallas against Texas Tech. Winning one of those four down the stretch would give Baylor two wins on the season.
So the worst-case scenario for the Baylor Bears: 3-9.
2018 Baylor Bears: Best-Case Scenario
The Bears are finally healthy and ready to turn the corner. Matt Rhule has put together two solid recruiting classes in Waco and the stigma of the sexual assault scandal under the previous administration becomes a distant memory. Baylor is able to get out of the gates quickly and start off with a 3-0 start to the season against Abilene, UTSA and Duke. This will give the program lots of momentum as it get ready for conference play. Then it’s a game against Kansas to give the program even more confidence, so it’s 4-0 before the meat of the schedule gets underway.
The offensive line is much improved behind Clemson transfer Jake Fruhmorgen, and the unit is protecting Charlie Brewer, who could prove himself to be the second-best quarterback in the Big 12 Conference behind West Virginia’s Will Grier. Jalen Hurd becomes one of the most explosive offensive weapons in the conference and has a couple of big games to open up the season. Baylor’s three-game stretch before its bye week is at Oklahoma, vs. Kansas State and at Texas. If they can take care of K-State at home and split the OU/Texas games, then Baylor is 6-1 heading into the bye week.
The run defense for the Bears is also vastly improved over last season as the line of DE Greg Roberts, NT Ira Lewis, DT Bravvion Roy and Rush End Xavier Jones are keeping teams in check and vastly improving from last season’s 4.9 yards per carry allowed.
Out of the bye week the Bears play two road games in three weeks, at West Virginia and Iowa State, with a home match up against Oklahoma State mixed in. Oklahoma State could be down this season and splitting the road games would be impressive. That’s 8-2 for Baylor. Then the season wraps up at home vs. TCU and a neutral site against Texas Tech. Splitting those two would certainly be a success, as TCU is a proven top 25 program and Texas Tech could be playing (again) to save Kliff Kingsbury’s job. This should be viewed as a major success for the Bears, who are still looking to build back up the depth through the program.
So the best-case scenario for Baylor football in 2018: 9-3.
What say you? Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below!