Baylor Football made a big jump in 2018, and they hope to do the same in 2019. Coach Matt Rhule took the Bears form 1-11 in 2017 to 6-6 with a bowl win over Vanderbilt in 2018. In his third year, Can the Bears jump into Big 12 title contention? Let’s break down the gauntlet in front of them.
It won’t be an easy road. They are projected to be in the middle of pack; along with TCU and Oklahoma State. However, Baylor has one thing going for them that those teams don’t in junior quarterback Charlie Brewer.
Let’s take a look and the upcoming schedule and opine on how many wins and losses are in store for the Bears.
2019 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
AUG 31 – Stephen F. Austin
SEP 14 – UTSA
SEP 21 – at Rice
SEP 28 – Iowa State
OCT 5 – at Kansas State
OCT 12 – Texas Tech
OCT 19 – at Oklahoma State
OCT 31 – West Virginia
NOV 9 – at TCU
NOV 16 – Oklahoma
NOV 23 – Texas
NOV 30 – at Kansas
The Bears should start out 3-0 thanks to some soft scheduling by the previous regime.
Baylor opens the season with Stephen F. Austin, a team coming off a 2-8 season in the FCS. If Baylor struggles here then throw away this entire outlook. They should easily handle the Lumberjacks at home.
Up next, they welcome UTSA to Waco. Last season, they defeated them in San Antonio 37-20. This is another game that Baylor should handle without issue.
Baylor will go on the road for their last non-conference game after an early bye week. They don’t have to go far though, as they will not leave the state of Texas until October.
They travel to Houston to face a rebuilding Rice team. Same song different verse as Baylor should again have no issue with this opponent.
This sets Baylor up quite well for a good start to the season. It will probably take you longer to read this post than is will take the Bears to dispatch their first three opponents; which will only help build confidence in younger players going into conference play.
Big 12 play won’t be quite as sweet as that cupcake non-conference. Baylor went 4-5 in conference a year ago, and they will need to improve on that to make another jump in 2019. If the Bears do not at least flip that record it will be a seen as a disappointing season in Waco.
To start conference play, the Green and Gold have three of the first five games at home. They only have to travel to Manhattan and Stillwater while they get Iowa State, Texas Tech and West Virginia at home.
Iowa State has beaten Baylor the last two years, and knocking off the Cyclones out of the gate would go a long way to showing the rest of the conference just what this squad is capable of.
Baylor then faces off against two teams with new coaching staffs in back to back weeks in Kansas State and Texas Tech. Not a bad position to be in, especially early in the season. These are very winnable games for the Bears.
Through the first half of the season, the Bears are looking at a possible 6-0 start, or at worst, a 5-1 start.
However, things get tougher in the back half of the season.
Baylor has never played well in Stillwater and the Cowboys will be looking to get a win over Baylor after 2018’s last second touchdown to give Baylor the win.
Up next, the rebuilding Mountaineers travel to Waco looking to give Baylor a boost of confidence heading into their toughest 3-game stretch of the season by far.
In the final four games of the season Baylor will play TCU, Oklahoma and Texas in consecutive weeks before finishing up the season at Kansas. Luckily for Baylor, the two toughest opponents of that stretch are at home.
Matt Rhule has not beaten TCU, Oklahoma or Texas in his first two years in Waco. If Baylor really wants to start making strides in the conference they will have to upset at least one of these teams. I feel as though TCU and Texas are 50-50 games while Oklahoma is another story.
The Sooners will be coming off of a game against Iowa State, and following Baylor is TCU. So, it could definitely qualify as let-down, caught-looking-ahead game for the Crimson and Cream. That’s probably wishful thinking though as I expect the Sooners to take care of business.
Finally, Baylor will travel to Kansas for the final game of the season. Kansas has a new head coach however he is a seasoned vet in Les Miles. Baylor should have no trouble with the Jayhawks as even in the 1-11 season they were able to handily beat Kansas.
PREDICTED WINS: 8-9
This feels like a natural progession of the rebuild that Rhule is leading in Waco. If they take another step forward from what they were last year, the schedule sets them up well with home games against Iowa State and Texas. The trajectory of the season hinges on the Iowa State game and this could be difference between eight or nine wins.
The absolute worst the Bears should be is 7-5. After going 7-6 last season including big win over SEC opponent in bowl game, Baylor should expect to at least be bowling and playing in late December or early January.
Baylor needs win games that they are not supposed to win in order to take the next step forward, and the 2019 schedule sets up nicely to do just that.