Petty will be challenged to stay among best

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Bryce Petty helped lead Baylor last year to the most PPG (52.4) since Houston averaged 53.5 in 1989.Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley and Bryce Petty are all being talked about as potential first-round NFL draft picks, while Braxton Miller and Everett Golson have the chance to solidify their places in their respective school’s storied histories.

In preparation for the 2014 season, and in conjunction with interviews conducted by ESPN CFB analyst Kirk Herbstreit, ESPN Stats & Info will take a deeper look at the top QBs entering the fall. Today we examine Baylor's Bryce Petty.

A Look Back at 2013

In his first season as Baylor’s starting quarterback, Petty led the Bears to a school-record 11 wins, their first Big 12 Championship and first outright league championship since they won the 1980 Southwest Conference title.

Petty was the central piece in the Bears’ hurry-up offense, which averaged 52.4 points per game last season, the most since Houston averaged 53.5 in 1989.

Petty recorded stats comparable to those of fellow Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III in his Heisman Trophy-winning season.

Notable Baylor QB Passing Stats

One thing that set Griffin apart from his competitors in 2011 was his success with the deep ball. RG III led AQ quarterbacks in touchdowns on passes thrown 20 yards or longer (21) with two interceptions. Petty also led AQ quarterbacks on such passes in 2013 (18) with just one interception.

With such high numbers, it’s not surprising that Petty threw for at least 200 yards and two touchdowns in every game last season. No other quarterback from a Power Five conference has accomplished that feat in at least 10 seasons.

A Look Ahead to 2014

The Bears’ one regular-season loss in 2013 produces a big question about their chances this season.

Through its first seven games, Baylor was on pace to break FBS records for points (56.0) and yards (624.9) per game, which were set by Army in 1944 and Houston in 1989, respectively.

However, the Bears did not play one team ranked in the top 25 in defensive efficiency in those games. Oklahoma finished the season 21st in defensive efficiency, sacked Petty three times (including a safety) and held him to 50 percent passing. But the Bears still managed a 41-12 win over the Sooners in Baylor’s eighth game.

Baylor faced an even tougher test Nov. 23 in Stillwater against Oklahoma State, which finished the season fourth in defensive efficiency and served Petty and the Bears their only loss, 49-17, during the regular season.

Bryce Petty by Team Game Number
2013 Season

But in 2014, Baylor will face four top 25 defenses, according to ESPN’s Efficiency Rankings: Oklahoma (4), TCU (5), Oklahoma State (15) and Texas (22).

According to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI), Baylor has the sixth-best chance of all FBS teams to go undefeated, at 5.3 percent, and the second-best chance in the Big 12 (Oklahoma has a 6.2 percent chance).

If Petty can lead Baylor to a second consecutive Big 12 title, he could end up in the Heisman race as well as the inaugural College Football Playoff. It will likely come down to Week 11 when Baylor faces Oklahoma in Norman.