Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Midseason report: Baylor
By Max Olson
It’s hard not to marvel at what Baylor has achieved through five games, becoming not only the frontrunner in the Big 12 but also perhaps the most dangerous, explosive team in the country.
The Bears lead the country in scoring and total offense, with the No. 2 passing offense and No. 4 rushing offense in FBS. They scored 35 points last week and are still averaging 63 per game. They have the best quarterback (Bryce Petty), running back (Lache Seastrunk) and receiving duo (Antwan Goodley and Tevin Reese) in the conference, and it's really not even close.
And the defense, mocked for so many years during the offensive explosive Art Briles has brought to Waco, is one of the five best in the Big 12 in most statistical categories at this point and is playing with serious confidence. The Bears are only No. 12 in the AP poll but can crack the top 10 and earn some serious respect nationally with a win over Oklahoma in Waco on Nov. 7.
From there, the schedule is a bear: Texas Tech, at Oklahoma State, at TCU and the Floyd Casey Stadium home finale against Texas. Three of those four games could come against ranked foes, and at this point we have to believe Baylor can put up 70 on any of them when everything is clicking.
They destroyed their nonconference opponents and West Virginia but were slowed to some extent by K-State, and the difference-maker will be how these Bears play on the road. But they control their destiny and just might steamroll the rest of the conference if they keep improving.
Offensive MVP: Petty is your Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year if the season ended today, and he would be deserving. The junior has been lights out in his first year as a starter and ranks No. 1 in the conference in every statistical category as a passer. In a year with so few great Big 12 quarterbacks, Petty is the real deal.
Defensive MVP: The Baylor defense is full of guys who have stepped up in 2013, and Bryce Hager is their leader. The junior linebacker has a team-high 48 tackles and a whole lot more: 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack, three pass breakups, three QB hurries and a ridiculous 91-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.