BearsIllustrated Co-Owner and Recruiting Coordinator
This is a statement year for the Baylor Bears. The Bears return almost everyone on offene and defense, but do have to plug in at one key position, the QB position. This isn’t as much of a concern as it might have been 3 or 4 years ago, but it does cause some to pause for a second. Seth Russell takes the helm in place of record setting QB Bryce Petty, who is now battling for position in the QB rotation of the NY Jets. With a defense that seems poised to be dominate and one of the tops in the Country, look for Russell to come out and gain confidence early against SMU. The Ponies will be working in a completely new system under new Head Coach Chad Morris, so this will be a prime opportunity for the Bears to make a nice opening statement to begin the year. The Bears run away with this one.
BearsIllustrated Contributor, DMN Baylor Blogger, City Editor for Baylor Lariat, Correspondent for Sports Illustrated
Chad Morris might be the best hire in college football this season, but he might be playing with one of the five worst rosters in football. SMU probably does not have a single player who would crack the rotation at Baylor, and the pieces do not fit together quite as yet either. The Mustangs return three quarterbacks with starting experience, and none had more than 1,000 yards last season. In fact, SMU was the worst scoring offense in college football last season and the second worst scoring defense. Morris is a very good coach, but he's not a miracle worker. The Mustangs have little ability to stop Baylor, and won't be able to score themselves. SMU's day is coming. It's not coming on Friday. Baylor is a team with legitimate talent to compete for and win a national championship, and that path will get started without much opposition at Ford Stadium in Dallas.
BearsIllustrated Recruiting Contributor
I personally believe in the "National Title or Bust" scenario the Bears have put themselves in this year. There will be no lifting off the gas pedal this year. This team is ANGRY, but fuels that anger by striving for a perfect season. I will confidently say I have more faith in Seth than anyone. I genuinely believe he will win Baylor a national title and potentially another Heisman trophy. The Mustangs have no idea what they're in for tomorrow. Although I am a big believer in the turnaround job Chad Morris has accepted the challenge of at SMU, there simply isn't enough talent to field right now to beat Baylor. To open the season last year, Baylor struggled by a large stretch and still shut a very similar SMU team out 45-0. I would love to see Seth slide into comfortability tomorrow, and I'm excited to see the defensive approach as we return basically the entire unit minus Hager. A shutout would be beautiful, but because I want SMU to do well I grant them one touchdown in this game.
BearsIllustrated Co-Owner, Publisher
Football is back! Woo. Sorry, had to get that out of the way. Look, let's be honest here. SMU was an absolutely awful football team last year, maybe one of the worst I have ever seen. They were mid-2000s Baylor bad, and I do not say that lightly. It was a quick fall for the Mustangs, but the climb back up will take much longer. They have quite a ways to go to get to just "bad", let alone competitive. To put it in perspective for Baylor fans, in Art Briles' first two years in Waco, both 4-8 finishes, the Bears faced off against #1 Oklahoma in 2008 and #2 Texas in 2009. Baylor lost 49-17 and 47-14 in those two games at home.
That is probably the best case scenario for what SMU fans should expect Friday evening. Even if Chad Morris is Art Briles 2.0, it will be several years before they can get to competitive with a Top-5 team, if they ever get there. Remember, this is Morris' first head coaching job, so we should be really looking at Briles' Houston tenure for clues. In 2003, during Briles' first year at Houston, they lost 50-3 to 3rd ranked Michigan. In year 2, they lost 63-13 at 2nd ranked Oklahoma.
So, even if the best case scenario is Morris turns SMU around like Briles did Houston (and stays there, unlike Briles), then a beating by the Bears would still fit that scenario perfectly. SMU is a bad team, starting their rebuilding efforts, while being outside of the Power-5 world. This could get bad.
Baylor 66, SMU 10