October 15, 2008

Scouting the Bears: Trap game?

Oklahoma State is getting a lot of national talk after its win over Missouri last weekend.

And with a potential mammoth game coming up next week at Texas, it might be easy for the Cowboys to overlook their next opponent, Baylor. After all, that's a hard team to get up to play. For most of its existence in the Big 12, Baylor has been a doormat, going 11-85 in the conference up to this season. There have only been two seasons (2005, 2-6; and 2006, 3-5) in Big 12 history where BU has won multiple conference games. After beating Iowa State last week, the Bears have one Big 12 win already. Could more be on the way? Will they post it over OSU in a big upset? Here's a quick primer on all things green and gold.

Waco, Texas
2007 record: 3-9 (0-8 Big 12)
Game time: 2 p.m. Saturday in Stillwater (no TV)
Current record: 3-3 (1-1)
Last week: 38-10 win over Iowa State
Current ranking: N/A (Cowboys are No. 8 in AP)
Fact of the week: Dating all the way back to 1845, Baylor is the oldest university in the state of Texas. It is also the largest Baptist university in the world, boasting around 14,000 students.

… the Bear offense:
Not ranked as highly as what OSU saw last week, Baylor still has a pretty effective offensive output. Nationally, they're ranked No. 38, gaining 403 yards per game. They rank 35th in scoring offense, putting up 32 points per game. Their ground game is a strength, racking up 206 ypg (18th nationally). Running back Jay Finley leads the way for them in this department, averaging almost 71 ypg. On the season, he has 425 yards on 64 carries with four touchdowns. Not far behind him on the ground is quarterback Robert Griffin. He has 425 yards on 85 attempts and eight scores. He's a quick running and hard to contain and isn't a throw-first type. Through the air, Griffin has 1,109 yards and nine touchdown passes on 79-of-128 passing. He averages about 184 ypg in this category. As a team, the Bears rank 79th in passing offense.
… the Bear defense: They seem to be hit-or-miss depending on the competition. BU has allowed more than 40 points twice and 30 points once. In their other games, they've limited opponents to 17 points or less. Those opponents? Northwestern State, Washington State and Iowa State. Not exactly world beaters. Those higher point totals came against bowl-level teams Wake Forest, Connecticut and Oklahoma. Nationally, they rank 58th in total defense, allowing 351 ypg. BU is more vulnerable to the pass, allowing 216 ypg (73rd). As far as the ground game goes, the Bears rank 58th (134 ypg).
… the coach: It appears he is putting together a very quick turn around on the Brazos, which is making the move to Art Briles a good one. OSU fans remember him from the road loss at Houston a few years back. He's in his first year leading the Bears and already they have as many wins this season as they did in 2007. They might be brought back to reality during the second half of the slate, as road games against not only OSU, but Nebraska, Texas and Texas Tech, loom. Even so, the Bears are more competitive and, with Briles at the helm, the days of Baylor being an automatic win for Big 12 teams might be starting to disappear. There's still a long way to go, however.

The Bears are being talked about as a possible trap game for the top 10 Cowboys, as they have been playing better, but a dose of reality needs to be shot into the situation. So far this season, BU has played five of its six games at home. Their only road game was a loss to Connecticut. Now the Bears hit the road in the Big 12 and it'll be interesting to see how they fare. As for the Cowboys, they're coming off a monster road win at Missouri and carry a top 10 ranking into a game for the first time in 20 years. Will OSU overlook BU in advance of its game next week at Texas? This could become a trap game, but the Pokes won't let it become one. The Cowboy players have been a part of some mediocre teams that let some wins slip away in the past, so don't look for them to come in unfocused against the Bears. It'll be competitive for a while, but look for a 52-28 victory by the Pokes.

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