As we have gotten to know the Bearkats this week, you have read quite a bit about their strengths and what they do best. They are a really good team and maybe even a great team….for FCS. The fact is they are a division lower than Baylor. In their marquee win last year against an FBS team, they needed overtime to beat a 1-win team in New Mexico. New Mexico has won 1 game in each of the last three seasons, against teams like Colorado State, Wyoming, and UNLV. Needless to say, the Bearkats victory did not go down in the annals of amazing upsets.
In that game, the Kats allowed 434 passing yards, and 528 total yards against a team that averaged 296.2 yards per game, an increase of 78%! If the Bears offense from last year had a game with a 78% growth, they would have had 1,045 yards!!! I do not mean to demean Sam Houston State as a team. They really do have a chance to win it all in the FCS division, and against a lesser team from the FBS division, they would have a real good chance to win. However, against a Top 30 team according to most polls, it is an uphill battle, and to say that they have a puncher's chance of winning might be giving them too much credit.
They do have a chance, but this game will be more about what Baylor does or does not do, than what Sam Houston State does.
What is going to happen??? – Random Predictions for the Game
1. One little anxious moment - An early Baylor punt either on its 2nd or 3rd possession will have the game in balance for a brief moment, as the Kats cut the Baylor lead to less than a possession. Bear fans will get anxious, but the Baylor offense led by Nick Florence will not. The Bears will answer the call, and march down the field in a quick and efficient manner and score a touchdown to comfort Bear fans.
2. Lache Seastrunk will be the leading rusher – With several runs late in the 3rd quarter and into the 4th quarter, Seastrunk will break 125 yards and lead the Bears in rushing. Salubi will get his share of the carries, and lead the Bears at halftime in rushing, but will be needed very little from that point on.
3. Turnovers will change the game – After the Bears answer the anxious moment, Baylor will force a string of punts and turnovers to blow up the game as they go into halftime. I imagine 1 fumble (possibly on a kickoff return) and 2 interceptions in a span of 5 drives to end the half will allow the Bears to spring out to a 35-3 lead at half.
4. Bears offense rolls - The Bears offense will get over 600 yards for the 2nd straight game, but most of the damage will be on the ground. Baylor will rush for over 320 yards against Sam Houston State, as they will be able to get through the first line of defense, and take advantage of their blitzes by running free into the defensive backfield.
5. Bears get some sacks – In the first week, the Bears struggled to get pressure on the SMU quarterbacks and did not record 1 sack. This week, that changes. The Bears will show more of a traditional 4-man front, as they will need the extra bulk against a good running attack. With that, their defensive ends will be able to push up the field better and attack the quarterback, after the Bears get out to a bigger lead. Terrance Lloyd leads the Bears with 2 sacks, and the Baylor defense as a whole gets 5 sacks.
Final Score – Bears win 55-13
Bears win in a blowout, as they break the 50 point barrier for the second game in a row, but the defense does not allow the late scores that hampered it in the first game against SMU. Most of the starters are pulled in the 3rd quarter, as several backups make a case for more playing time, being led by defensive end Javonte Magee, who records his first career sack. The Bears are led by a three-head rushing attack, Salubi, Martin and Seastrunk all get at least 75 yards rushing. Baylor fans are happy as the rain subsides for the evening and the Bears win easily.