November 5, 2010

Bear of a Season: Can BU keep winning?

In the end, maybe the Mayans had it all wrong after all.

Maybe, just maybe, the end of the world is coming this Dec. 21st and not in 2012.

How else could you explain Baylor sitting atop the Big 12 South Division with the most conference wins in the entire league?

There are definitely some strange things afoot at the Circle-K.

No matter your rationalization on this issue, the fact is the Bears are 7-2 overall, 4-1 in the Big 12, and have control of their own destiny the rest of the way. Keep winning and BU will be playing for the Big 12 title in Arlington next month.

But that's just it - the winning might stop for them starting this weekend.

Look, BU is much better than usual. Art Briles is an amazing coach and Robert Griffin should be a serious candidate for national awards (but he won't be, because college awards are mostly high school-level popularity contests). The Bears aren't a pushover anymore - no guaranteed W's against them now. And, for as long as Briles is there, the Bears are probably a consistent 6-6 or 7-5 program.

But their season really starts this week when they travel to Oklahoma State - aka, the second team with a pulse they've played all year.

BU, while improved, has benefited from a schedule that has been mostly easy so far. And while winning in Austin last week was a huge thing and a big deal, we all know that Texas isn't the Texas of normal. They look more Texas State Fightin' Armadillos than Texas Longhorns (or even Texas Colts, for that matter).

Just look at who they have played this season, records in parentheses, wins in bold:

Sam Houston State (4-4)
Buffalo (2-7)

TCU (9-0)
Rice (2-6)
Kansas (2-6)

Texas Tech (4-4)
Colorado (3-5)
Kansas State (5-3)
Texas (4-4)


So, that's seven wins and two losses on a slate that is, up to now, a combined 35-39. And nine of those wins (and zero losses) is from the first team with a pulse they played, TCU. Take out TCU and that is a combined 26-39 mark for the other teams.

As Nick Bakay used to say, "The numbers never lie."

Is Baylor having a nice season? Absolutely - probably the closest they'll ever get to a dream year in the Big 12. But they've been fortunate enough to pay a host of bad teams, two teams that are down (UT and Tech) and a team with fight but not much in the way of talent (KSU).

Now, for only the second time this year, BU gets a team worth a darn. The Horned Frogs shellacked them. Yes, Tech beat them as well, but I'm filing that in the fluky file after what I've seen from both teams. Tech isn't that good this year.

So Baylor has played - at this point - two teams with winning records. After TCU, the other team is KSU, which needed to score 47 points to beat them. OSU fans saw last week just how slow and un-offensive the Wildcats are. And if KSU can put up 42 on Baylor, what could the number be for OSU? (Of course, on the flip side, what will BU put up on OSU? This game could be the shootout of the season.)

The overall point in this column being: Baylor is having a great year - for them. Give them credit for that. But they're not a serious contender for the Big 12 South. The Bears have very losable games coming up against OSU (7-1), Texas A&M (5-3) and Oklahoma (7-1). Combined, those three teams are 19-5 - a Tony Stark difference from their slate so far.

For the record, I expect Saturday's game to be an interesting one. Griffin could really do some damage, given what Taylor Martinez did against Bill Young's unit a few weeks ago. I could see this be a 49-35 type of game in OSU's favor. The first half could be tight before OSU makes its halftime adjustments. This game won't necessarily be easy for OSU. If the Cowboys make mistakes, they most certainly could lose.

I'm not saying BU is a pushover or that OSU should roll. But what I am saying is that the Bears are imposters. They have benefited from a schedule breaking their way nearly every week and their toughest tests are still to come. The Texas win has over-inflated their stock a tad. While a good, competitive team, Baylor will ultimately not be a factor in the Big 12 race, must less win it.

And if they do, they will have earned it, because they will have beaten the Cowboys, Aggies and Sooners in successive weeks. And I don't see that trifecta happening.

Saturday should be an exciting game, but Baylor's magical mystery tour ends this weekend.

Justin Wilmeth is the editor of OStateIllustrated.com. He can be contacted via e-mail at justin@ostate.com.
Follow him on Twitter! Twitter.com/JWilOSI


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