If I asked you what team hasn’t had a victory by less than double digits this season, has a defense allowing only 17.4 points per game and beat its highest ranked opponent by more than four touchdowns, what team would you name? After another typical Saturday of hanging up more than 60 points on their opponent, the Baylor Bears have gone from unranked in the preseason to No. 3 in the current AP poll. Stanford’s loss to USC Saturday night allowed for the remaining undefeated teams to hold the top four spots in the latest BCS standings. While also undefeated Ohio State still holds the No. 3 spot in the BCS standings, it’s sweating with its .0013 advantage over the Bears in the computer rankings. Baylor heads to Stillwater this weekend to face No. 10 Oklahoma State, and a dominant victory over the Cowboys on their own home field should be enough to allow for Baylor to overtake Ohio State. While we’re still on a crash course for Alabama to meet Florida State in the BCS Championship game, barring one of the two losing, Baylor can make a strong argument for being the best team in the country.
Baylor ranks third in passing yards per game (384.4)and ninth in rushing yards per game (300.3) which explains its absurd 61.2 points per game. The Bears are the highest scoring team in the nation, averaging roughly 10 more points per game than Florida State, Oregon or Ohio State. Comparing the explosiveness of the Baylor offense to any other team is like comparing Usain Bolt to your high school track star. If the Bears continue their current scoring pace and continue to average 684 yards per game, they’ll be the new NCAA record holders for both categories at the end of the season. How explosive is this offense? When down 20-7 against Texas Tech this past Saturday, Baylor overcame the deficit in under three minutes. Oh, and that’s without leading rusher Lache Seastrunk and their second-best receiver Tevin Reese. The Bears offense just keeps rolling no matter what happens. The Bears offense is probably the most exciting thing that has ever come out of Waco. RGIII was a one-man show, the 2013 Baylor offense is a highly efficient scoring machine. While the Bears could certainly hold their own in any offensive shootout, it rarely comes to that.
The Bears defense can simply play, allowing only 17.4 points per game. Yes, the highest scoring offense also ranks seventh in points allowed. The Bears allow more than 300 yards per game to the opposing team, but they lead the Big 12 in both total defense and points allowed categories. The Bears defense has held opponents to single digits three times this season, and only allowed more than 25 points twice. As prolific as the offense is, the Bears have the defense to be able to keep the game close when the offense can’t get going. The game against Oklahoma is probably the best example of this. The Baylor offense only managed a field goal through the first quarter and a half, before exploding for 21 points. Oklahoma had multiple scoring opportunities but the Baylor defense demonstrated itself with a goal line stand, a defensive stop from within 10 yards of the end zone and forcing a missed field goal. While the offense of the Bears gets most of the attention and the credit, the Bears defense will be crucial in the game against Oklahoma State. Not only does Baylor need to win, but it needs to win decisively if it hopes to secure the No.3 spot in the BCS rankings over Ohio State. A high scoring shootout would be exciting for fans, but it’s not going to help the Bears cause as much as a dominant victory.
Now, everyone is going to say that it’s not hard to put up stats when you play the schedule that Baylor plays. It’s like saying that it’s fair that Britney Griner gets to play basketball against women.There’s nothing impressive about hanging up 70 points on Buffalo and UL Monroe or preventing those teams from scoring. I’m of the opinion that putting up 70 points is generally always impressive and that the defense shouldn’t be criticized so long as it does its job. Baylor hasn’t just beat these teams, it has flat out destroyed them. Their closest game is a 35-25 victory against Kansas State. At the time that didn’t seem so good, but Kansas State has now rattled off four straight victories including a win against No. 25 Texas Tech. If it goes on to beat Oklahoma next week, that 10 point victory starts to look a little better. Then-No. 10 Oklahoma is the only ranked opponent that Baylor has played so far, but it won by more than 30 points. With Ohio State having games against Michigan and Michigan State (in the Big Ten championship game) remaining, Baylor will need to take advantage of this opportunity against Oklahoma State. A defining win may be enough to keep the Bears in the No. 3 spot until the end of the season, while a slight victory may only have it switch places with Ohio State for a week. The Bears need a lot of cards to fall into place if they hope to play in the National Championship game, the first being a defining win this weekend. Even if the national championship game is Florida State-Alabama, Baylor is having a record breaking season that may have us wishing the College Football Playoff was starting this year.
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