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5-Things: Are the Baylor Bears #1 in the nation?

At 4-0, and playing their best football of the young season, are the Baylor Bears the best team in the nation?

1. The Baylor Bears are 4-0, and starting to move up the polls. With the loss of Ole Miss to Florida, Baylor has moved up to 3rd and 4th in the nation.  Baylor is also receiving the second most 1st place votes in either poll, behind Ohio State.  The Bears are less than 100 points behind 2nd place TCU in the AP Poll, and 27 points behind the Frogs in the Coaches poll.  They have 10 first place votes in the AP, and 5 in the coaches.  Any way you look at it, the Bears are one of the best teams in the nation, solidly behind Ohio State in both polls, but right there with TCU and Michigan State.  Those three teams are 2-4 in each poll, with the Frogs in the lead.  

The 3rd place finish in this weeks AP Poll is tied for the highest ever polling for the Bears, and they have never received this many 1st place votes in program history. Baylor has also risen up to the second spot in the Scout.com rankings as well.  

2. But should the Bears be behind TCU at this point in the season?  To me, it looks like a standard case of the Frogs starting higher, and simply not losing.  There is little doube that the Bears have looked like the more dominant team, even with the Frogs 50-7 thrashing of Texas this weekend.  Luckily for us, the Bears and Frogs already have two common opponents in this young season in SMU and Texas Tech.  I have already taken a look at both teams performance against SMU (with the Bears on the road, and the Frogs at home), and Baylor came out looking significantly better.  

Statistic Baylor TCU
Points Scored 56 56
Points Allowed 21 37
Yards Gained 723 720
Yards Allowed 369 508
Yards Per Play 10.48 10.14
Yard Per Play Allowed 4.73 6.42
2nd Half Points Allowed 0 20
Turnover Margin -1 -1
Second Half Yards Allowed 109

265

3. So, how do the two teams stack up against Texas Tech?  In this one, the Frogs get the benefit of the doubt, having to travel to Lubbock, while Baylor met the Red Raiders on a neutral field.  With the games one-week apart, this is a great view of how the Bears and Frogs are playing right now. 

Statistic Baylor TCU
Points Scored 63 55
Points Allowed 35 52
Yards Gained 680 750
Yards Allowed 636 607
Yards Per Play 8.95 7.28
Yard Per Play Allowed 7.15 7.23
2nd Half Points Allowed 14 24
Turnover Margin +3 0
Second Half Yards Allowed 310 371

The Frogs overall yardage numbers are slightly better than the Bears, but on a per-play level, Baylor has a slight edge on offense and defense.  Baylor also forced 4 Tech turnovers, while the Frogs failed to force a single turnover.  Both teams forced 3-punts, while the Bears forced more 4th down attempts (5 to 3).  The main difference defensively in this one was the turnovers for the Bears.  

Offensively, Baylor was simply dominant, and much better than TCU against the exact same defense.  Baylor had 56 points after their first drive of the 3rd quarter, and took their foot off the gas.  After that score, they only gained 121 more yards and just 1 more touchdown.  They gained 5.76 yards per offensive snap.  Before that point, Baylor was averaging 10.16 yards per play.  While TCU's offense was asked to play the entire game, the Bears were asked to play just over half.  

4. I already spoke about the dominance of the offensive line in the Bears victory over the Red Raiders, so lets shift our attention to the other side of the ball. The Baylor defensive line might have had its best game of the season, and it isn't even close.  They had 13 quarterback hurries, more than they had in their first three games combined (12).  They frequently put pressure on the Red Raiders quarterbacks, and for the most part, kept Mahomes inside the pocket.  The Red Raiders eventually had to adjust their play-calling to focus more on the underneath routes, and screen-plays, simply because they didn't have any time to generate plays down the field.  This led to a lot of yards for the Red Raiders, but little points to show for it.  They would drive the ball, and then a penalty, or a turnover would derail their drive.  

In the second and 3rd quarters, the Texas Tech offense had 8-drives (not counting their kneel-down drive to end the 1st half).  They scored two touchdowns, punted the ball once, had 3 turnovers and gave the ball up on downs 1 time.  Those 30 minutes saw the Bears lead go from 14 to 28.  With the Baylor pass rush forcing Mahomes to make quick decisions, it protected the Bears secondary, which has had its fair-share of problems with the deep ball.  

Jamal Palmer led the team with 4 quarterback-hurries, while Patrick Levels came on in the 2nd half to generate 3 off of some tremendous blitzes. Seven different Bears applied pressure to the quarterback, so it was a balanced effort by the Baylor defense.  

5. Ranking the Big 12:

  1. Baylor - The best offense in college football made it look easy on its way to 63 points.  If the defense can continue to rush the passer like that (against a very good Tech offensive line), the Bears are going to be in great shape.
  2. TCU - The Frogs almost shut out UT, wining 50-7. TCU looked great, but that game might have been more about how bad UT is, rather than how good TCU is. 
  3. Oklahoma - Best conference win of the season so far, as OU beats WVU at home. They dominated the 4th quarter to put this one away. 
  4. West Virginia - Tough effort in Norman, but just fell short. The defense is good, just not elite.  The question will be about the offense, and turning the ball over. 
  5. Texas Tech - They picked a bad game to play their worst 60 minutes of the season.  Mahomes looked healthy, and that will be a key the rest of the season.
  6. Oklahoma State - Two gifted wins for the Cowboys, who are still not playing very good at all.  The conspiracy was never against UT, it was always for OSU. 
  7. Kansas State - Should have beaten Oklahoma State on the road.  They outplayed the Pokes, but came away with the "L"
  8. Texas - Anyone else enjoying Austin crumbling to the ground.  I know I am, maybe a little too much.  Nah. 
  9. Iowa State - Congrats to the Cyclones for beating Kansas.  
  10. Kansas - Worst team in the Big 12, and it isn't even close.  Maybe the worst Power-5 team in the country....again.

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