Is Baylor ahead of Texas in the Big 12 pecking order this season?
It’s not an absurd question after the No. 18 Bears dispatched Oklahoma State 45-27 on Saturday. The Cowboys took a 27-24 lead on Baylor thanks to a long TD run by LD Brown with 13 minutes left. And after that it was all Baylor.
Charlie Brewer scored the go-ahead TD on a 2-yard run with nine minutes left. And then the game swung even further three plays later when Oklahoma State QB Spencer Sanders fumbled while trying to escape the pocket on third down. The ball was picked up by Baylor’s Terrel Bernard, who returned it 20 yards for a touchdown and a two-touchdown lead.
The game swung even further in Baylor’s direction when JaMycal Hasty ran 73 yards to the end zone on Baylor’s first play of its next possession.
Baylor racked up 532 yards of offense as Brewer threw for 312 yards on just 17 passing attempts. The Bears also rushed for 220 yards on 35 carries as Hasty scored twice.
Brewer has quietly been one of the more efficient quarterbacks in the Big 12. He’s completed 65 percent of his passes and thrown 12 touchdowns to just three interceptions. And both Hasty and John Lovett are averaging over five yards a carry on the ground while Denzel Mims and Tyquan Thornton are averaging over 15 yards a reception.
The win also came in the Bears’ first game without middle linebacker Clay Johnston. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in Baylor’s overtime win over Texas Tech in Week 7. He had 58 tackles through Baylor’s first six games of the season. No other player had more than 30.
Could Baylor be 9-0?
Baylor will creep closer to the top 15 in Sunday’s AP poll. And should keep getting closer and closer to the top 10 over the next two weeks. The Bears’ next two opponents are West Virginia and TCU. Both are winnable. Especially if Baylor is as good as we think it could be.
Two wins in those two games would put Baylor at 9-0 heading into a Nov. 16 showdown against No. 5 Oklahoma. That game against Oklahoma comes a week before No. 16 Texas. A split in those two games coupled with wins over the Mountaineers, Horned Frogs and Kansas would come close to guaranteeing Baylor a spot in the Big 12 title game.
Heck, the playoff could even be a consideration if Baylor is 11-1 and going to the Big 12 championship game. And while we’re still a long way from that possibility, the fact that we’re even typing that sentence is remarkable given where Baylor’s program has been in recent years.
The Bears last won 10 games in 2015, the final year of Art Briles’ tenure. Since then Briles was fired in the wake of the sexual assault scandal that enveloped the school and Baylor stumbled to a seven-win season in his absence.
Rhule was hired ahead of the 2017 season and took over a roster that was decimated by transfers. The Bears went 1-11. The team improved by six games to 7-6 in 2018 and, crazily, another six-game improvement is still a mathematical possibility in 2019. Don’t be surprised at all to see Rhule’s name atop many coach of the year lists in the coming weeks.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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