Schedule and Odds
Baylor is losing its stud starting quarterback from a year ago, yet is still ranked as a Top 5 team in plenty of preseason rankings. That just shows how much talent the Bears have returning on both sides of the ball. They bring back 17 starters in all. However, since the Big 12 still won’t have a Championship Game, they’ll need a great season to reach the College Football Playoff, especially since they have to travel to TCU.
Baylor is listed at odds of 24 to 1 to win the National Championship and 3 to 1 to win the Big 12. Those odds are available at 5 dimes sportsbook as of late spring. 5 dimes also lists odds for the Baylor Games against TCU and SMU along with odds to make the 4 team playoff and over under total wins.
Seth Russell is next man up to takeover at quarterback for the potent Baylor offense. He played a bit last year while Bryce Petty nursed a back injury, but most of that experience came against scrub teams or in blowout wins. Russell will be a junior so at least he has the experience in the offense, and he’s a little more mobile than Petty, which could help.
The Bears run five-deep at running back led by Shock Linwood (1,252 yards, 16 TDs), but Johnny Jefferson and Devin Chafin will get plenty of touches as well. Antwan Goodley is gone at WR, but that shouldn’t affect things too much for this receiving corps. Corey Coleman, KD Cannon and Jay Lee all expect to have big years with Lee looking to break out in his senior season. Not to mention, it looks like 400-pound tight end LAQuan McGowan could receive a few more looks in the red zone this year. Baylor returns all five starters from an already great offensive line, led by All-American LT Spencer Drango. This group is a main reason Baylor shouldn’t see a drop-off at all on the offensive end, even with a new quarterback.
Baylor returns even more starters on the defensive side, which is another reason they are projected so high this year. While the Bears allowed 25.5 points per Game a year ago, that number should improve after a bit of a falloff at the end of the year that includeda 42-41 loss to Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl.
Shawn Oakman and Andrew Billings are going to be absolute nightmares for opposing offensive lines. Those guys anchor one of the most exciting groups around and we’ll see that early. Oakman could have 10 sacks after the first five Games with the way the Schedule looks. The linebacking core loses Bryce Hager, who is almost impossible to replace, but Grant Campbell looks ready to fill that role and Aiavion Edwards brings some experience to the weak side. The major question for Baylor, which was the case last year, is in the secondary. They only have one senior in the entire group and dealt with multiple injuries in the spring.
The Bears have one of the easiest non-Conference Schedules in the Conference and they follow those Games with three of their next Four against Big 12 bottom dwellers. Unfortunately for them, that also means their slate in the second half of the season is going to be a pain. That starts with a trip to Kansas State at the beginning of November and then back-to-back road Games at Oklahoma State and TCU with home Games against Oklahoma and Texas in between. If Baylor comes out of those Games with an undefeated record, there’s no doubt they should make the playoff. However, that’s a long way from now.
Baylor should reach that 10-win mark again, but those late-season road Games may be too much to overcome, especially at TCU. Leave expectations at the 10- or 11-win mark.
2015 Baylor Football Schedule
Sept. 4 at SMU
Sept. 12 vs. LAmar
Sept. 26 vs. Rice
Oct. 3 vs. Texas Tech (AT&T Stadium)
Oct. 10 at Kansas
Oct. 17 vs. West Virginia
Oct. 24 vs. Iowa State
Nov. 5 at Kansas State
Nov. 14 vs. Oklahoma
Nov. 21 at Oklahoma State
Nov. 27 at TCU
Dec. 5 vs. Texas