Best and worst-case scenario: Baylor Bears

July, 31, 2013
7/31/13
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Time to wrap up our series looking at the best and worst-case scenarios for each team in the Big 12. Here's a look back at the rest of the league.


Best-case scenario
WACO, Texas -- Art Briles and the Bears showcased major confidence in the offseason. All fall, running back Lache Seastrunk, quarterback Bryce Petty and an improving defense showed why.

The Bears breezed through their nonconference schedule and made quick work of a plucky Louisiana-Monroe team that eyed an upset a season ago. West Virginia didn't put up much of a fight, and a relentless Baylor offense applied too much pressure on the Mountaineers, who had a turnover-prone second half in the 20-point loss.

A trip to Manhattan ruined a hot 3-0 start back in 2011, but Seastrunk torched a young K-State front seven and the Wildcats' dreams of revenge for last season's loss came up short. His 175-yard day was enough to get Baylor back on the plane to Waco with a four-point win and a perfect 5-0 mark.

Baylor earned a bit of its own revenge for a frustrating loss at Iowa State last year, and a week later, the trip to Lawrence lacked the theatrics of the overtime comeback required to win RG III a Heisman back in 2011.

Suddenly, the Bears were sitting at 7-0 with a top-10 ranking and a Thursday night showcase game against Oklahoma awaiting. Just like Griffin did back in 2011, the Bears took advantage of the stage, beating the Sooners by double digits and moving to 8-0 during a dream season. The defense was in the top third of the Big 12, looking like it did during November, 2012 when the Bears were playing the best football of any team in the league. Petty was who everyone thought he was, and Seastrunk backed up all that offseason Heisman talk.

A week later, though, the let down arrived. Texas Tech jumped out to an early lead at Cowboys Stadium, and the Bears couldn't recover. The toughest portion of the schedule awaited, but Baylor was ready.

A week later, it walked into Stillwater and knocked off the one-loss Cowboys to earn the Bears their best win of the season, proving they'd be fighting for a Big 12 title. One loss wouldn't end their season.

TCU's defense and Casey Pachall handed the Bears an overtime loss on the road a week later. However, with a Big 12 title in reach, Baylor won its third game in four seasons against Texas to share the Big 12 title with OSU. And thanks to that win on Nov. 23, the Bears represented the league in the Fiesta Bowl as Big 12 champions. That was made all the sweeter by clinching the bid in the stadium that had seen so much disappointment over the years. Floyd Casey Stadium was now host to one of the greatest moments in Baylor football history before handing over the title as the Home of the Bears to Baylor Stadium in 2014.

Final record: 10-2

Worst-case scenario

WACO, Texas--The cracks in the foundation were there, just like last season. Louisiana-Monroe gave the Bears more of a struggle than they were comfortable with, and the nerves were back in Waco when West Virginia came to town.

The Mountaineers earned a big win in Waco after being rolled by Oklahoma earlier in September, and a week later, a very different K-State offense made Baylor's defense look like the Achilles' heel it had been for most of the Briles era.

At 3-2, the Bears earned narrow wins against Iowa State and Kansas, but they had a lot to prove to the folks who saw them sliding into the bottom half of a deep Big 12, despite a respectable 5-2 record, heading into November.

They wouldn't prove it. Oklahoma made quick work of the Bears in a Thursday night game, and a week later, the Bears couldn't win a shootout with Texas Tech at Cowboys Stadium, losing 51-45. Road trips to Oklahoma State and TCU, though, definitively proved that the Bears had no business talking about Big 12 title before the season, and Texas laid one final indignity on the Bears heading into 2014. The 2012 season ended beautifully, with a four-game winning streak. This season was the polar opposite, as the Bears were sent to the Big 12 cellar with a five-game losing streak and an eighth-place finish in the league.

Final record: 5-7

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