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Baylor at SMU primer

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Shawn Oakman and the Baylor defensive line can start staking a claim to being one of college football's best, starting with the season opener against SMU. AP/LM Otero

Baylor kicks off its 2015 season with a trip to SMU to battle the Mustangs and new coach Chad Morris. Here's a quick preview of the matchup:

How Baylor can control this game: Unleash its defensive line. The lineup of Shawn Oakman, Andrew Billings, Beau Blackshear and Jamal Palmer could send a message to the nation that they plan to be one of college football’s top units. If Baylor’s defensive line can dominate the game, it will make life easier for quarterback Seth Russell and allow him to ease into his new role as the top tog on the offensive side of the ball.

Baylor's X factor: Senior receiver Jay Lee hasn’t gotten the notoriety of teammates Corey Coleman and Kd Cannon, but he could end up being just as important to Baylor’s offense. SMU will likely focus on ways to slow Coleman and Cannon, leaving Lee in one-on-one opportunities. Don’t be surprised if the senior improves on the 41 receptions for 633 yards and seven touchdowns he had in 2014, beginning with a solid performance tonight.

What a win would mean for the Bears: Baylor’s constant offseason mantra about its soft non-conference schedule has essentially been "if we go 12-0, we shouldn't have to worry about it." Thus, a win over SMU is critical. If Baylor has any hopes of earning a spot in the College Football Playoff, the Bears must win every non conference game. And it starts against the Mustangs tonight.