SportsRatings 2014 College Football Pre-season Top 128
|Baylor Bears (Big Twelve #1)|
|AP #13 USA #13||Strength:#2 Success:#10 Overall:#2|
|Record: 11-2||Bowl: Lost to UCF 52-42 (Fiesta)
|Picks: AP #10 | USA #10 | Lindy's #10 | Athlon #10 | Steele #9|
|Record: 10-2||Bowl odds: 99.9% Playoff odds: 58%|
Baylor is #10 almost across the board, but we put the Bears a little higher. Look for more shootouts as the offense actually improves while the defense gets weaker.
6 ret. starters
|2013 Scoring Offense: #1 (raw) #1 (adjusted for opposition)|
|2014 Projected Scoring Offense: #1 (adjusted)
Despite some key losses, Baylor's offense may maintain its #1 ranking.
|2013 Passing Rank: #6 (raw) #4 (adjusted)||2013 Sacks Allowed (adj.): #43|
|2014 Projected Passing Rank: #2 (adjusted)
||2014 Sacks Allowed (proj.): #46|
Can Bryce Petty (4,200 yards, 32 TDs, 3 int) possibly increase his production from last year? Even while losing #3 all-time receiver Tevin Reese (867 yards, 8 TDs last year)? Well, consider that last year's #1 Antwan Goodley (1,339 yards, 13 TDs) is back with Levin Norwood (733, 8), Corey Coleman (527) and Clay Fuller (512). In all, 5 of the top 7 return (#7 Robbie Rhodes dismissed). The offensive line loses three starters but it may be just as good at protecting Petty (22 sacks last year), who probably won't match last year's insane 32:3 ratio but he could surpass his yardage from '13. Backup Seth Russell (427, 3:3) returns as well.
|Rushing||2013 Rushing Rank: #14 (raw) #12 (adjusted)||2014 Projected Rushing Rank: #23 (adj.)
Lache Seastrunk (1,177 yards, 11 TDs) didn't win the Heisman as he promised, but he had a good year before heading to the NFL. Glasco Martin (509 yards, 7 TDs) also departs, leaving #2 Shock Linwood (894, 8) as feature back; he filled in well when Seastrunk and Martin were hurt. Four others rushed for over 100 yards including QB Petty who had 14 touchdown runs. The offensive line returns just two starters, Desmine Hilliard and Spencer Drango, but Troy Baker started in 2012 and they add transfer Blake Muir (starter at Hawaii in 2012). The running game looks weaker but not weak by any means.
|2013 Adjusted Stats:||Rush Defense: #61 Pass Defense per-game: #26 Per-attempt: #34|
4 ret. starters
|'13 Scoring Defense: #41 (raw) #40 (adjusted)||'13 sacks: #53||'13 picks: #12|
|'14 Projected Scoring Defense: #80 (adjusted)
||'14 sacks: #73||'14 picks: #57|
Baylor's defensive line loses Chris McAllister (6.5 sacks) but reserves Jamal Palmer (5 sacks) and Shawn Oakman (10.5 tackles for loss) might have been their best linemen; they move into starting roles this year. At linebacker top tackler Eddie Lackey (108 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss) is gone, and four of five are gone in the secondary (4-2-5) including KJ Morton (10 pass breakups) and Demetri Goodson (13 pass breakups). We don't think they'll match last year's 32 sacks nor come close to last year's 19 interceptions, and with 6 of their 8 top tacklers gone the defense becomes more of a liability.
- Kicking Game: Punter Spencer Roth (45.8 average) is back but kicker Aaron Jones (14 of 23 FG) is gone.
- Return Game: Corey Coleman averaged 28.4 yards per kickoff return and had a touchdown return, while Levi Norwood averaged 9.6 yards per punt return with two touchdowns.
- Turnovers projection: We think Baylor will have a lot fewer than last year's 19 interceptions on defense; this will hurt their turnover margin as Petty can't go much lower than 3.
- Injury correction: Baylor didn't have an excessive amount of injuries on offense or defense.
Coaching/Recruiting 2014 Recruiting Rank: #13 2013 Recruiting Rank: #34
Art Briles had a great recruiting year, better even than the years immediately following RG3. It may have been last year's great season, or perhaps the indication that the program is going to excel even after Griffin's departure. The relative decline of Texas probably had something to do with it. Whatever the reason, Baylor has their best class in a long time, ranking 2nd in the Big Twelve. The star recruit is wide receiver KD Cannon from Mt. Pleasant, TX.
Baylor scored 69, 70, 70, and 73 points in their first four games. Beating Wofford, Buffalo, and UL-Monroe didn't really impress but the latter two were bowl-eligible. West Virginia scored 42 in the 4th game and showed that the Bears' defense wasn't great. At Kansas State they scored just 35 (won 35-25) which started a patter of much weaker road play. They bounced back to put 71 up on Iowa State but didn't "prove" themselves until beating Oklahoma 41-12. Two games later they fell apart against Oklahoma State 49-17 on the road. The Bears edged TCU (road again) and throttled Texas (home) to finish 11-1. They were overconfident in the Fiesta Bowl against Central Florida and lost 52-42.
Last year's prediction: We didn't have confidence in Bryce Petty last year (we do now) and figured the offense would take a step down. Instead it took a huge step up. We ranked the Bears #28 and projected a 7-5 record.
Baylor 2014 schedule & forecast
Straight up: 12-0 Cume: 10-2 Odds of 12-0: 15%
We don't see the Bears losing a whole lot of games. In fact, we favor them pretty heavily in most games and favor them to be 12-0. The cumulative projection is right around 10.5 wins and their actual odds of going 12-0 is 16%.
The first few games should be foregone conclusions with SMU, Northwestern State, and Buffalo unable to match up with Baylor's offense. They will be of interest only for the final scores, which will tell us something about how good the offense and defense are compared to last year's model. The Buffalo game is on the road, and might give a hint as to how the Bears might fare at the next two at Iowa State and Texas. Recall that Baylor was considerably better at home last year.
The next real challenge, the toughest on the slate, is Oklahoma. Since that game is on the road don't expect anything like last year's 41-12 bulldozing; we still favor Baylor but it should be a very close game. The last three games should all be relatively easy as none of them is a road game.
The question is, what are Baylor's chances for going to the College Football Playoff? If they are undefeated, they are in—there's no worry that 1-loss teams might hold out a 12-0 Big Twelve team. At 11-1 their odds against any 12-1 teams is a concern, but there might not be many 12-1 teams out there. Overall we give them a 58% chance to make the playoff based on how we rate them and how the other contenders might finish. In other words, they are one of our four favorites to make it.
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SportsRatings 2014 College Football Pre-season Top 128