The College football season fully got underway on Saturday afternoon, and while there were a few scares in the top 25, most of the ranked teams went unscathed. All eight of the top 10 teams that played on Saturday came away with victories, but Sunday brings about a challenge for another preseason top 10 university.
Southern Methodist visits No. 10 Baylor on Sunday night in Waco, Texas. The Bears open the season in uncharted territory in 2014. Not only are they opening a new on campus stadium, Baylor is starting the season as defending Big 12 champions. Even though they aren’t defending national champions, for a program like Baylor, this season presents about as much pressure as it does for Florida State to continue their undefeated streak.
Last season, Baylor’s offense was ridiculous. That’s the only way to put it. They averaged 359 passing yards per game in the historic season. The Bears also ran the ball for 259 yards per game. If you’re looking for an efficient, game breaking offense, this is one of the first places to check this season.
Baylor lost a couple key contributors on the offensive end, but they return Heisman candidate Bryce Petty at quarterback. Petty threw for 4200 yards, while averaging 10 yards per attempt. Those numbers were spectacular, but they were far from the best stat in 2013. Bryce Petty passed for 32 touchdowns, while only giving up three interceptions. In other words, Jameis Winston has to throw one more interception for the rest of the year to match that feat.
If Baylor wants to show improvement in the passing game, they could get their running backs involved more. It’s something that Coach Briles to keep the defenses honest this season. Just a threat of the running backs in the passing game would be enough.
Antwan Goodley and Levi Norwood are back in action at the receiver position. Both players make huge plays in the passing game, but it’s expected when you play for Baylor nowadays. The top seven receivers averaged more than 14 yards per catch.
While the Baylor offense should roll up the points on Sunday, all eyes will be on the defensive performance. The SMU Mustangs have a new quarterback to replace Garrett Gilbert. Neal Burcham made two starts to end last season, however, SMU dropped both of those games, including a game to UCF. The Golden Knights went on to beat Baylor in a BCS Bowl game, so both teams ended their season with a loss to UCF.
Burcham should feel more comfortable this season as he takes the reigns for good. He will be facing a hungry defense at the outset, but it’s important for SMU to maintain their composure, as both teams settle in.
Baylor is playing themselves as well as playing the opponent when they take on SMU. If they do what they do best, the Bears should find the end zone early and often. They’ve seen other teams struggle this weekend, so an impressive win in this position will give Baylor some nice confidence.