Why it's critical for Baylor to start the season fast

August, 18, 2009
8/18/09
3:38
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

I know some of you are wondering why I've made it a point of emphasis that Baylor needs a quick start to make its first bowl trip since 1994.

The major reason is that past history has not been kind to Big 12 teams that struggle in the nonconference portion of their schedules.

And with Baylor facing one of the toughest nonconference schedules in the Big 12, it will be critical for them to start fast. Baylor is facing a most daunting schedule in terms of being the only Big 12 team with two opponents from BCS conferences with its opener at Wake Forest on Sept. 5 and a home game on Sept. 19 against Connecticut.

I went back and did some figuring.

Of the 92 bowl teams in the 13-season history of the Big 12, only 10 of them had two nonconference regular-season losses. Only three teams with two nonconference losses have qualified for bowl games among the 46 teams making bowl trips since 2003.

Here's another nugget that might act as an incentive to Art Briles or anybody else in the conference. Of the 43 Big 12 teams that have started the season with a 4-0 record -- occasionally with a conference game thrown in -- all made bowl trips that season.

So that should bode well for the Bears if they are able to run the table in an opening start with nonconference games at Wake Forest and home games against Connecticut, Northwestern State and Kent State.

Here's a look at the Big 12's bowl teams over the years and how they did in nonconference play during the regular season. The two-loss teams are indicated in bold facing.

1996: No losses, Kansas State; one loss, Colorado, Texas Tech, Nebraska; two losses, Texas.

1997: No losses, Kansas State, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M; one loss, Missouri.

1998: No losses, Colorado, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Nebraska; one loss, Missouri, Texas A&M; two losses, Texas.

1999: No losses, Kansas State, Nebraska, Texas A&M; one loss, Oklahoma, Texas; two losses, Colorado.

2000: No losses, Iowa State, Kansas State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas Tech; one loss, Texas, Texas A&M.

2001: No losses, Kansas State, Iowa State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech; one loss, Colorado.

2002: No losses, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas; one loss, Nebraska; two losses, Colorado, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech.

2003: No losses: Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State; one loss, Kansas, Kansas State, Texas, Texas Tech.

2004: No losses, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas; one loss, Iowa State, Texas A&M, Texas Tech.

2005: No losses, Iowa State, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Texas Tech; one loss, Colorado, Missouri; two losses, Oklahoma.

2006: No losses, Missouri, Texas A&M; one loss, Kansas State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech.

2007: No losses, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech; one loss, Texas A&M; two losses, Colorado, Oklahoma State.

2008: No losses, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech; one loss, Kansas, Nebraska.

Additionally, Baylor has never started a season since joining the Big 12 with four straight victories. The Bears started 3-0 in 1996 under Chuck Reedy, finishing 4-7. And they started 3-0 under Guy Morriss in 2005, finishing 5-6.

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