The preseason prognosis from most college football experts is that the Baylor Bears improved on last season's near-playoff team and added multiple pieces that could land the Bears a Top 4 playoff spot this year. ESPN currently has the squad ranked third in its college football power index, right behind Ohio State and Alabama. The oddsmakers, however, do not as much faith in the Bears as they are receiving the seventh-best national title odds in the nation.
Baylor is one of the few team's with a legitimate complaint about last season's playoff selections. The Bears ended 2014 with an 11-1 record and beat its co-Big 12 champion TCU, while playing a tougher nonconference schedule during the year. Baylor and its fans feel they got skipped over by both TCU and Ohio State in the rankings and that they should have been invited to the first-ever College Football Playoff. This season may be Baylor's year to settle the score. Let's take a closer look at the team's national title odds with predictions and analysis. All odds come from Bovada.
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Baylor Bears Odds to Win 2016 College Football National Championship Story Lines
Baylor's major concern heading into the 2015 season will be figuring out what the team needs to do in order to earn a playoff berth. Last season the Bears produced an 11-1 record and beat their Big 12 co-champion counterpart in TCU and could still do no better than the No. 5 spot in the final regular-season playoff rankings. Playing in the Big 12, a conference that does not hold a championship game, definitely hurt the Bears last season. If TCU and Baylor had played in a conference championship game in 2014, the committee may have been forced to choose one of the teams over Ohio State.
Baylor Bears 2015 Schedule
Sept 4: @ SMU
Sept 12: Lamar
Sept 26: Rice
Oct 3: Texas Tech
Oct 10: @ Kansas
Oct 17: West Virginia
Oct 24: Iowa State
Nov 5: @ Kansas State
Nov: 14 Oklahoma
Nov 21: @ Oklahoma State
Nov 27: @ TCU
Dec 5: Texas
Baylor has a tough Big 12 schedule , but there is really no matchup that will bother the team outside of its big TCU showdown toward the end of the year. The Bears should be favorited in 11 of their 12 regular-season games but will probably be the underdog for that TCU game on Nov. 27. Outside of that matchup, the team still faces a rough patch to end the year with two other road games against Kansas State and Oklahoma State while hosting Texas during the final game of the regular season.
Baylor Bears 2016 National Title Odds and Trends
Title Odds: +2000
2014 ATS Record: 7-5-1; 4-3 home.
2014 Totals Record: 5-2; 3-3 home
The Bears will be returning the most players from any team in contention last season with 18 starters and six all-conference players coming back for another shot at a national title. The major roster departure was starting quarterback Bryce Petty, who helped Baylor produce consecutive 11-win seasons while breaking 25 school records of the course of his career. The Bears are expected to be a major player in the title hunt, and a road win over TCU in late November could catapult the program into a playoff spot. The odds are enticing at +2000. The team has talent and experience.
Baylor Bears 2016 College Football National Championship Picks and Predictions
Coach Art Briles and his staff have turned Baylor into a perennial contender, and a playoff berth is within reach for the team. The big question will be how well Seth Russell transitions into his role as the starting quarterback and whether or not he can take advantage of a talented corps of receivers while being protected with an excellent offensive line. Baylor will have enough name value and attention, particularly after last season's performance and eventual slight by the committee, to be considered for a Top 4 spot. At +2000 there is value simply because the Bears are a part of a handful of programs that have a shot at making the playoffs.
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Read more articles by George Monroy
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