Russell is a good quarterback and has experience having started a game last season for an injured Bryce Petty. Baylor radio play-by-play announcer John Morris tells me that Russell is ahead of Petty when he took over as the starter. If that is true then I may be wrong placing the Bears in third.
I originally had them second but Baylor has struggled in Stillwater and the two teams will play back in "the Boone" this season with both in the middle of a tough stretch in the schedule. I'm going with the Cowboys, and going big actually.
Beyond Russell the offense is so good with running back Shock Linwood back after running for 2,133 yards and 24 touchdowns the past two seasons. Corey Coleman, K.D. Cannon, Jay Lee, and young talents like Chris Platt and Ishmael Zamora give the position even greater depth. The offensive line returns all five starters including probable first-round NFL Draft pick Spencer Drango at left tackle.
On defense, defensive coordinator Phil Bennett returns most of the front seven including preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in defensive end Shawn Oakman, another potential first-round NFL Draft pick and defensive tackle Andrew Billings. There is also a lot of experience in the secondary including free safety Orion Stewart.
Baylor has a cupcake non-conference slate with a beefed up SMU and a solid Rice team, but these are teams that Baylor should beat handily. For the Bears the season will come down to November and games with Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State, and at TCU.
2015 BAYLOR BEARS (10-2 / 7-2)
9/4 @SMU - SMU is improved with Chad Morris as head coach but Bears win 51-27.
9/12 Lamar - Name the score which means it could climb above 70, but we stopped at 63-10.
9/26 Rice - The Owls don't back down but lose 48-20.
10/3 Texas Tech @Arlington - I know this was a shootout last season and it will be again 56-45; Bears win it.
10/10 @Kansas - Another name the score game with Baylor winning 49-6.
10/17 West Virginia - Mountaineers defense slows down Baylor some but not enough, 31-13.
10/24 Iowa State - Remember the Cyclones last trip to Waco? A kor for touchdown at the end of the game so Baylor wins but only 31-21.
11/5 @Kansas State - Baylor cranks it up for serious run with a 52-24 win over K-State.
11/14 Oklahoma - Bears thrash OU defense 45-24.
11/21 @Oklahoma State - Stillwater as in Waterloo and Cowboys win 47-28.
11/27 @TCU - No questions this time as Patterson's defense makes sure 49-20 TCU.
12/5 Texas - Bears unload frustrations on a tired and depleted Longhorns team 38-21.