Heading into week 4 of the college football season, Baylor is firmly in the race for a top 4 playoff spot. Let’s take a look at some key factors in what will impact Baylor’s season the most.
Is Seth Russell the Real Deal?
A 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior, Russell also moves well, and he is surrounded by one of the nation’s deepest receiving corps and all five starters returning to a good line. Right now, draft-niks have Russel ranked as the number 20 QB in the nation. Seth Russel will be in good hands with Art Briles at the helm. Under Briles, the past three Baylor QB’s (Robert Griffin III, Bryce Petty, Nick Florence) have thrown for at least 3,500 yards over the past five years. Russell completed 48-of-85 passes for 804 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception and ran 32 times for 185 yards and three touchdowns last year, so it is no surprise that he has already cemented himself as one of the best quarterbacks in college football this year. Look for Seth Russell and the Baylor offense to be in the top 5 for points for all season long.
How is the defense coming along? The Baylor defense starts with Shawn Oakman, the 6’8 defensive end who became an internet sensation after Baylor’s bowl game last year in which people across the country finally got to see just how truly large Oakman is. Oakman can stuff the run or bulrush an offensive tackle with ease, which makes him a matchup nightmare. He has to be consistently double-teamed, which opens up opportunities for other Baylor defensive linemen and blitzing line-backers. Baylor also has a stingy secondary, starting with cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Ryan Reid. Both Howard and Reid are juniors, and they certainly play like veterans. The Baylor defensive line gets enough pressure to force errant passes, leading to interception opportunities for Howard and Reid.
Will Baylor make the college football playoff this year?
After coming so close in 2014, the Baylor Bears are certainly playing every game this year with a vengeance. Art Briles and all of the Baylor team feel like they deserved a chance to compete for the national championship, and this year they will certainly have the opportunity to prove it. Baylor has a very rough three game stretch in November, when they play Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State, and at TCU. See schedule> If Baylor can win two out of those three games, I think they will have a very good chance of ending the season in the top 4, something they have been craving since last season. Art Briles believes in Seth Russell, and rightfully so. Russell looks to prove that losing Bryce Petty may have been a blessing in disguise.