Monday, March 25, 2013
Is Baylor a Big 12 contender or pretender?
By David Ubben
We've asked you about two Big 12 teams thus far, and the people labeled Texas a "pretender," while casting enough votes to make their voice heard in regards to TCU, who this blog's readers say is a Big 12 title "contender."
What about a team from a little bit off the beaten trail? Let's take a look at a team that might be more of a sleeper in the title race this year, but a team that definitely believes it can win after finishing the season with the Big 12's longest winning streak in each of the past two seasons.
Yep, I'm talking about the Baylor Bears, who won their last four games of 2012, highlighted by a beatdown of BCS No. 1 Kansas State and UCLA in the Holiday Bowl.
This year, coach Art Briles' eye for offensive talent will be put to the test again as he tries to replace quarterback Nick Florence and receivers Lanear Sampson and Terrance Williams, a Biletnikoff Award finalist who led the nation in receiving yards.
Bryce Petty looks like a fitting heir to Florence, but the Bears will need to do some sorting out this spring to see who they can depend on at receiver. Running back Lache Seastrunk is the league's best returning talent at the position in my book, topping 1,000 yards last season despite barely sitting at over 200 when November began.
The defense has been the biggest problem for the Bears, but any Big 12 title talk will have to hinge on it being better in Year 3 under Phil Bennett at defensive coordinator. Linebackers Eddie Lackey and Bryce Hager had big years and safety Ahmad Dixon will try to cap a good career as a senior leader in 2013. Is the unit good enough to help Baylor win a title?
Cast your vote and we'll see if readers are giving Baylor a fighting chance this upcoming year.