1. With the loss to West Virginia, a 41-27 game that the Bears let get away from them in the fourth quarter after tying it up in the 3rd, Baylor has completely removed their margin of error. One more loss and the Championship Playoffs are completely gone from the realm of possibilities. One more loss, and their Big 12 championships goals are probably removed as well, at least an outright championship. The media machine though is saying that the losses by Baylor and Oklahoma have removed the Big 12 from the playoff picture.
That is laughable at best. Even if Florida State, Oregon, one of the Mississippi schools win out, there is still one spot left? The SEC west will beat each other up, good and bad for that conference. Three spots locked up is the WORST case for the Big 12. There can’t be four, unless you think Notre Dame running the table is better than any other Big 12 team going in with 1-loss.
The Big 12 has 5-ranked teams, with three in the Top-12. What hurts them is that they are 10th, 11th, and 12th. Oklahoma is next at 17, with West Virginia at 23 and Oklahoma State is just outside the Top-25 at 26. This is a very deep conference, with 60% of the league in the Top 27. Any of TCU, Baylor or Kansas State would have some great wins on their resume if they were to run the table. Baylor would have wins over TCU, KSU, and OU for Top-25 teams, while Kansas State could run the table on the whole Big 12.
2. Kansas State is in the driver’s seat, but they have two tough road games to go; at TCU and at Baylor. The Wildcats probably deserve to be the top team in the Big 12 right now. They beat OU, on the road as well, but the Sooners are not the powerhouse that most expected. They have lost two of their last three games and were outplayed by the Longhorns in their only win. The Sooners are pretty much done with the Playoffs and might have just a fraction of a chance at a shared Big 12 title, if chaos reigns supreme. Oklahoma State has an outside chance, though they also have to go to Oklahoma, Baylor and Kansas State for their last three road tests.
For the Bears, it is simply win out time. They win out, the best anyone else can do is tie the Bears and lose the tie-breaker. They already have that over TCU if they end with the same record. The Big 12 championship is still well within the Bears grasps, and if a Big 12 champ finishes with just 1-loss, a Championship Playoff spot is also a strong possibility as well.
3. The Bears won’t be helped by the perception of their team though. The calls for overrated due to a weak schedule to start the year are already being heard. A drop to 12th and 13th in the polls echoes those thoughts. Never mind the fact that the Bears fell behind a team they beat in TCU, a team with a loss to an unranked team in Georgia, and an Ohio State team that lost handily at home to a 4-3 Virginia Tech team. Even with the Bears flaws, this is still a Top-10 caliber team. We saw that against the Horned Frogs in one of the best games of the year. Baylor will have their chances to climb back up the polls, starting in 2 weeks with a homecoming game against Kansas. After that one though, it is a road game against Oklahoma. In 2014, it appears that chaos reigns. The Bears were bitten by that chaos in Morgantown. The last two weeks, Top 5 teams are just 6-6. These are supposed to be the best teams in the land, and they are .500. There will be more losses for the Top 5 and Top-10 teams in the country.
4. What, besides winning, can the Bears do to get back on track? First off, the bye week is coming at a great time. Baylor has lost their second starting offensive lineman for the year, with Troy Baker joining Desmine Hilliard on the sidelines. Against West Virginia, we saw Pat Colbert come in and struggle a bit. Could maligned guard Blake Muir slide outside to his more natural tackle position and help the Bears there? That was my first thought when I learned of Baker’s injury. Jarell Broxton stepped in for Hilliard, but was pulled for Tyler Edwards in the second half. The Bears offensive line is in shambles right now, and that has hurt the Bears running attack and made the passing attack spotty at best. That has to be mission # 1during the bye week, getting the right 5 offensive linemen out on the field. It doesn’t have to be your best 5, as I think it was a mistake to play Blake Muir at guard. He is a tackle and does not have the run blocking
5. Baylor has forgotten some of the things that make this offense so dangerous. It is the ability to put multiple game-changing weapons on the field and simply find the weak spot. The Bears offense has pretty de-evolved into a home run hitting contest, usually starring Antwan Goodley or Corey Coleman. Sure, we sprinkle in KD Cannon here and there, but it seems to me that Bryce Petty is locking in on a particular target too often. We saw it against Texas, where just four Bears caught passes, and just one player caught more than a single pass. We saw it again against West Virginia with just four players again catching passes with two of those catching a single pass. The Bears are not spreading the ball around at all.
Levi Norwood and Clay Fuller are getting snaps, and giving very little production right now. Davion Hall has disappeared from the game-plan, due to injuries against him and guys coming back healthy. Jay Lee, who was the Bears most dependable receiver to start the year has been a ghost, outside of his long touchdown against TCU for the last month of the season. Right now, it is Antwan Goodley and Corey Coleman as option #1 and #2, with a big gap to everyone else.