2014 Baylor Bears Odds to Win the Big 12 with Picks & Predictions
by Aaron Smith - 8/14/2014
The Baylor Bears had a tremendous 2013 season. Art Briles has done an amazing job changing the culture at this program. Before Briles was here, this team was a doormat on a yearly basis. How bad were they? Going into 2011, Baylor was 18-102 all-time in the Big 12 Conference. It's truly stunning how quickly Briles has been able to get this Baylor program turned around.
Robert Griffin III won a Heisman Trophy here, and he helped accelerate Baylor's move toward the top. Many experts believed that Baylor's bump up would quickly go away after Griffin was gone. Instead, Baylor won 11 games and had what most would agree was the program's best season ever in 2013.
In 2014, Baylor will begin playing games on campus at McLane Stadium. The Bears had played the past 64 seasons at Floyd Casey Stadium, which was off campus. Baylor's home-field advantage will likely get even better beginning this season. Baylor did lose a lot of talent from last year's team. The Bears return 10 starters, though, and with a star quarterback leading the way this team has high expectations again in 2014.
2014 Baylor Offense
Bryce Petty is the main man under center for Baylor, and he's one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. Petty was considered a Heisman contender for much of last year, and I fully expect him to contend for the Heisman once again in 2014. In fact, I believe Petty is likely to be a finalist for the award. Petty's numbers from last year were remarkable. He threw for 4,200 yards and 32 touchdowns compared to only three interceptions. Petty is going to light up the Big 12 this year, and he'll be a NFL starter within a couple years as well.
Lache Seastrunk is gone, but that doesn't mean Baylor is in trouble in the backfield. Shock Linwood averaged 6.9 yards per carry in his freshman season, and he is a budding star. Devin Chaffin, Johnny Jefferson, and Terrance Williams should all get carries as well. The biggest problem for this extremely deep group could be keeping everyone happy by getting them touches.
Baylor has churned out some very good wide receivers in the past few years. Kendall Wright, Terrance Williams, and Tevin Reese are all gone, but there are still plenty of talented guys here. Levi Norwood and Corey Coleman are the new leaders of the group. Baylor will be just fine here. On the offensive front, Baylor does lose three starters from a year ago. On the other hand, Spencer Drango and Troy Baker were both injured last year, and they are high quality linemen who should lead this year's unit. I'm not worried about this offensive front.
Baylor averaged 52.4 points per game and 619 yards of total offense per game last year. Both of those were good for first in the nation. It's hard to expect quite that much again, but this Bears offense will get very close.
2014 Baylor Defense
While I'm not concerned about the Baylor offense, I do have some real concerns about the Bears defense. The biggest reason that Baylor started 9-0 and was able to finish 11-2 last year was the improvement of their defense. Baylor finished No. 28 in the nation in total defense. They allowed 142 yards per game less in 2013 than they did in 2012. In order to be a national title contender again, Baylor's defense needs to stay at that level. I don't think they can do it.
The biggest concern on this defense is the secondary. Baylor has real issues at the two cornerback spots. The Bears have a two-deep chart at cornerback that includes players who made a grand total of 18 tackles and zero interceptions last year. This youth and inexperience is going to hurt them against the better passers in the Big 12.
With Eddie Lackey gone, the linebackers are a bit down from a year ago, but there is some quality depth here. Bryce Hager will head up this group. They won't match last year's numbers, but they are better than many believe. The defensive line is an area of relative strength. Oakman and Palmer are strong pass rushers. Blackshear and Billings will do a good job clogging the running lanes.
The Baylor defense isn't terrible, but they won't be able to stop the opposition the way they were last year. Can the pass defense hold its own?
2014 Baylor Odds to Win Big 12
Oklahoma is a significant favorite in the Big 12, but odds from Bovada show Baylor as the second choice at 11/4. Baylor is listed at 33/1 to win the national title this season. The Bears season win total is set at 10 wins.
2014 Baylor Bears Picks & Predictions
Petty and the offense won't miss a beat. Baylor will probably average at least 45 points per game again this year. The defense will be down a couple notches though, and I think that's too much for Baylor to overcome in the Big 12. The Bears 2014 schedule shows road games at Texas and at Oklahoma as well, so it is tough sledding. Look for a successful season, but they won't be able to match last year's total of 11 wins.
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