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5-Things: Proving time for the Baylor Bears

The Baylor Bears have risen up to 2nd in both the AP and Coaches polls. With a big test against West Virginia this weekend, it is proving time for the Bears.

1.   1.  The Baylor Bears are the second ranked team in the nation, in both the AP and Coaches Poll.  Think about that for a second.  Truly think about that.  It is amazing.  For older Baylor fans, this was unheard of just 10 years ago.  I speak about this often, but in my 4-years at Baylor, I saw 11 wins.  COMBINED.  The past two years, we have matched that win total.  Now, we are setting new program bests, as the Bears had never before reached the second spot in the polls.

Baylor picked up three first place votes in both the AP and Coaches poll, and are now closer to top ranked Ohio State than they are to 3rd place TCU in the AP Poll.  With Ohio State struggling the past two weeks with Maryland and Indiana, there is now an opening for the top spot.  When the year began, Ohio State had ALL of the 1st place votes.  While they still have the most in Week-7, they have just 44% of the top votes in the AP, and 74% in the Coaches Poll.  Baylor has the third most 1st place votes (Behind Ohio State and Utah), so with a dominant victory over West Virginia, the Bears have a legitimate chance of climbing that final rung up.   

2.      Of course, that is getting ahead of ourselves.  Also, it truly doesn’t matter if Baylor is #1, #2, #3 or any other number right now.  With several weeks before the first CFP Poll announcement gala, this is all truly meaningless.  In the era of the playoffs, the rankings have been relegated to a nicety, rather than something to obsess over.  Still though, you have to admit it is pretty cool to see that “#2: next to the Bears on the scroll at the bottom of your screen, at least for this upcoming weekend. 

3.       Baylor’s movement up the polls will depend on their performance against West Virginia this weekend. An 11am kickoff, the Bears at least have some experience in that early morning slot, as their Kansas game can attest to.  Also, it looks like the 11am kickoff will be a theme of the year, as Homecoming will also get the early morning treatments.  Nothing like a 6am parade to get your day started.

As Baylor fans remember, it was an 11am kick last year as the Bears traveled to Morgantown.  In that 41-27 defeat, Baylor was beaten all over the field.  "Going into last year against WVU, we felt good. They just outplayed us and outcoached us” Art Briles said of the game last year.  Tied going into the 4th quarter, the Moutaineers dominated the last 15 minutes of the game.  Forget all of the penalties earlier, forget the missed chances. The Bears were beaten in the most important 15 minutes of the game. 

Don’t use the “revenge” word though, at least in front of the Bears.  "Revenge is not something in our vocabulary. If there's any revenge, it's on us. They did their job, we didn't do ours." Baylor is approaching this as another step in the process. A way to get better every week, the same goal every team in the nation has.  This isn’t about vengeance for last year, it is about winning this year. 

4.       While West Virginia is 3-2 on the year after consecutive losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, the Mountaineers will have by far the most talented and successful defense the Bears have seen in 2015.  The Mountaineers are ranked 14th in Defensive S&P+ according to FootballOutsiders.com.  The other four FBS teams the Bears have faced?  121st, 117th, 123rd and 124th.  That is out of 128 teams. 

Simply put, the Bears have yet to face a BAD defense.  All four FBS opponents have been truly awful on the defensive side of the ball, even if you take out the Baylor game.  This isn’t a case of the Bears offense making the opposition look bad.  These are bad defenses. 

Against West Virginia, the Bears will be playing a much better defense, one that actually might have a fighting chance of at least slowing down the Baylor attach.  The past three games, the only thing that has slowed down the Baylor offense has been the scoreboard and the mercy of the coaching staff.  West Virginia will have at least a chance of doing it themselves. 

5.       Ranking the Big 12

  1. Baylor - Still the best, and the gap is growing. 
  2. TCU – Two road games in a row, they were lucky to win.  The tip against Tech, and Bill Snyder electing to kick that field goal on 4th and 1.  Gifts.
  3. Oklahoma State – They still haven’t looked right this year, but an OT win over West Virginia helps them. 
  4. Oklahoma – You had one job OU.  ONE JOB.  Don’t suck before Baylor. 
  5. West Virginia – A two game losing streak going into Baylor.  Not good.
  6. Texas Tech – At least they beat up on Iowa State.
  7. Kansas State – Why did the Wizard kick that field goal? 
  8. Texas – That was a butt kicking by their offensive and defensive lines against OU.  Can they do it outside of the Cotton Bowl though?
  9. Iowa State – Well, they are bad, but at least not Kansas bad. 
  10. Kansas – Sorry Kansas, but thanks for giving Baylor starters a half game break!


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