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Baylor Football Preview Picks and Schedule 2011
Baylor has been a Big 12 punching bag for many years. When the Big 12 Elite would look at their schedules before the season, they'd put a big W next to the Baylor game, and they wouldn't use pencil either. But that may be changing. Last season Baylor was 7-6 and played in the Texas Bowl in a losing effort, a 38-14 loss to Illinois. While we won't make a judgment based on one good year, it sure seems as though Coach Art Briles has been able to close the gap a bit between Baylor and the Big 12 Elite.
Baylor has 3 losses that resembled the old Baylor. They were beaten soundly by TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, with two of those losses coming on the road. Every other game was a close loss or a win, and some wins came against winning programs. Baylor beat Texas on the road and they beat Kansas and Kansas State. They came within a TD of Texas Tech and lost by 12 to Texas AM.
Baylor got it done with offense last season and they are once again loaded on that side of the ball. QB Robert Griffin threw for a school record 3501 yards and 22 TD's to go along with 635 yards on the ground and 8 rushing TD's. They return all of their Wide Receivers as well as what many feel is their best offensive line ever. Last season they averaged 31 points per game and ranked 13th in the Nation in total offense. The only team that was able to bottle them up was Rose Bowl Champ TCU. The Baylor offense is going to do some damage in 2011.
The problem, the missing link to Baylor being the complete package, is the defense. While the offense was among the best in the land, the defense was among the worst. Art Briles has brought in respected defensive coordinator Phil Bennett from Pitt to run the defense and while we wouldn't expect miracles, any improvement will help with a defense that gave up as many points as they offense scored. They bring back about half of last years defensive starters including most of the line.
Winning breeds confidence. Beating a team like Texas and going toe to toe with others will have a positive impact on these kids. The intimidation factor is gone. But it won't be easy to duplicate last year's success. They won't be able to sneak up on anyone. Teams like Texas don't take to kindly to being upset at home. Baylor plays Texas their last game of the season, on December 3rd. Baylor going to a 2nd consecutive bowl game could very well come down to that game, not a favorable position by any stretch.
It's difficult to gauge the impact Bennett will have on this defense. It takes time to build a defense. There's certainly no place to go but up on that side of the ball and how well this defense performs will be the key to Baylor's 2011 season. Baylor will be an exciting team offensively and will be able to punch it in against anyone, but with teams like Texas and Kansas State looking for revenge, and everyone else on alert, it's hard to come up with more than 6 wins for this team in 2011. As mentioned above, look for the Texas game to have a big impact on the Baylor season. We'll call it a 6-6 year and another Bowl game for Baylor.
2011 Baylor Football Schedule
09/02/11 vs. TCU
09/17/11 vs. Stephen F. Austin
09/24/11 vs. Rice
10/01/11 at Kansas State
10/08/11 vs. Iowa State
10/15/11 at Texas A&M
10/29/11 at Oklahoma State
11/05/11 vs. Missouri
11/12/11 at Kansas
11/19/11 vs. Oklahoma
11/26/11 vs. Texas Tech
12/03/11 vs. Texas
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