2015-16 Football Previews – (Big 12) – Bears
Baylor Bears Head coach Art Briles has sure built a juggernaut in Waco, TX. Anyone who doubts that Briles is one of the best college coaches in the land needs their head checked.
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Big 12 Conference 2015-16 College Football Preview – Baylor Bears
Head Coach: Art Briles
2014 Record: 11-2
Baylor BCS Odds: +2000
Baylor Odds to Win the Big 12: +275
In only a few seasons – let’s call it five – Briles has transformed a program that was once the laughingstock of the Big 12 Conference into a perennial powerhouse, and the Big 12’s best team. After going 8-1 in the conference last year (11-2 overall), expect Baylor to once again be punching with the big boys in 2015.
Briles returns 16 starters overall, although he must replace his starting QB, as Bryce Petty went to the NFL. The Bears have the skill-position players to ease the transition to a new field general.
The Bears lost a heartbreaker to Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl last year, the Spartans edging them 42-41. Baylor had one other rather inexplicable loss to West Virginia earlier in the season, but the Bears were flawless against everyone else, including their many in-state Lone Star brethren.
Texas and Oklahoma used to rule the Big 12, but no more.
Baylor returns its entire offensive line from last season, led by superstar left tackle Spencer Drango. While he is the star, the whole unit is outstanding and they block as a unit extremely well.
This will make the job of the skill players much easier, especially RB Shock Linwood, a junior who ran for 1,252 yards and 16 TDs last season. He will garner first-team All-Big 12 honors.
The Bears also feature two phenomenal wideouts in junior Corey Coleman and sophomore K.D. Cannon. This duo combined for 122 receptions, 2,149 receiving yards and 19 majors in 2014. All of this will make new QB Seth Russell’s job less stressful.
The defense is in good shape too, especially along the line with impact player Shawn Oakman back for a third season. Oakman is a physical specimen that should be a star at the next level, but he’ll terrorize opponents in Waco for one more year. He is joined by All-Big 12 pick Andrew Billings on the nose and Freshman All-American K.J. Smith at end.
Look for JUCO transfer Grant Campbell to make lots of plays at middle linebacker.
New QB Russell has lots of talent, but it’s always daunting to replace a two-year starter that threw for over 8,000 yards, 60+ TDs and sported a record of 22-4.
Russell provides more mobility than Petty did, so that will be interesting to watch.
The defensive secondary may be a cause for concern. If junior CBs Xavien Howard and Ryan Reid and safeties Orion Stewart and Terrell Burt don’t up their play, they could be benched because Baylor’s depth is improving.
The Bears roll out a new kicker in Chris Callahan and a new punter with freshman Drew Galitz.
2015-16 Baylor Bears Prediction: 11-2
While it’s unoriginal to predict a repeat of last year’s record, the Bears are unquestionably among the Big 12’s elite even without Petty under center. College football is very much about dominating the front lines (look at Ohio State’s 2002 title for proof of that) and the Bears have the two best units in the conference in that department.
Texas Christian should also be fantastic, and that is where I predict Baylor will slip up. Perhaps it comes up short against Oklahoma (who will be looking for revenge after being embarrassed last year, 48-14), or slips in a bowl game.
If Seth Russell can have a smooth transition as this year’s starting pivot, the Bears absolutely have a chance to three-peat in the Big 12, and might even be in the mix if Russell struggles.
2015 Bears Schedule
- 9/4/15 7:00 PM ET @SMU
- 9/12/15 7:30 PM ET LAMAR
- 9/26/15 3:00 PM ET RICE
- 10/3/15 TBD TEX. TECH (Arlington, TX)
- 10/10/15 TBD @KANSAS
- 10/17/15 TBD WVU
- 10/24/15 TBD IA. ST.
- 11/5/15 7:30 PM ET @KSU
- 11/14/15 TBD OU
- 11/21/15 TBD @OK. ST.
- 11/27/15 7:30 PM ET @TCU
- 12/5/15 TBD TEXAS
The 2015 College futures betting season is here in full force! If you like to bet on NCAA football, you are in the best possible place for online betting. CappersPicks.com has NCAAF odds up on a ton of futures, and you will also find College football lines up for early games as well.