The Case for Big-12 Champion Baylor Bears to Win the College Football Playoff

Editor’s Note: This is the second of our series of articles looking at the Power Conferences in College Football. Each day one of our college football writers will pick a conference winner, and make a case as to why that team has what it takes to win the new College Football Playoff and become 2014 National Champions.

Say it aloud to yourself: Big-12 Football Champion Baylor Bears. It was true following the 2013 college football regular season. It will be true again in 2014. Moreover, all of the ingredients are in place for the Bears to make a run to the top of the college football mountain in 2014. Sure, Baylor returns Heisman-candidate QB Bryce Petty, but he is not the most important returnee from last year’s championship team. Head Coach Art Briles owns that distinction. If you don’t believe that the coach is one of the most highly-coveted football minds in the country, then you weren’t paying attention when the NFL team that employs his Heisman-winning QB was interested in a next-level reunion, nor when Baylor’s Big-12 neighbors in the state capitol tried to lure him 80 miles down the road to replace Mack Brown. Most would probably say that Big Game Bob Stoops is the best coach in the Big-12, but Briles is right there with him. In many ways, Briles’ tenure has been more impressive; Stoops merely re-established a dominant program, while Briles built one from the ground up out of whole cloth.

Baylor Bears Offense

As for the players that return for Baylor, the offense promises to be just as explosive as last year’s edition. Scary proposition? You bet. Triggerman Petty is going to put up obscene numbers for a team that has the weapons to run the table this season. Shock Linwood will star as the feature back. Losing Lache Seastrunk hurts, but Linwood is a very talented runner in his own right, and will have a strong season. Antwan Goodley joins a loaded receiver core, which returns star Robbie Rhodes, who is unburdened by an unwanted brush with the law this offseason.

Bears Defense

On the defensive side of the ball, the defensive line is stacked, and adds Javonte Magee after missing 2013 for personal reasons, and Boise State transfer Sam Ukwauchu, who will be eligible to play this fall after sitting out 2013. The back end is the potential weak link, having lost star LB Eddie Lackey to graduation. JUCO transfer Grant Campbell will need to step up, and Lackey will be replaced by Aiavion Edwards, who will start in Lackey’s stead. The secondary will be anchored by Orion Stewart and Terrell Burt, but this position group will suffer the biggest change in personnel versus last year’s team. There is plenty of speed and talent in Baylor’s secondary though, and by the time the toughest challenges present themselves, this group will be a quality unit.

Schedule

This brings us to the biggest reason for optimism. Baylor’s 2014 schedule is quite favorable. The Bears play seven games within the friendly confines of the brand-new McLane Stadium, including the last three of the regular season. This difficult stretch includes strong opponents Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Kansas State. With all three at home, it is easy to see the Bears sweeping those contests. Texas and Oklahoma are both road games, but both far enough into the season to allow the defense to gel and the offense to be clicking on all cylinders.

Prediction

Baylor runs the table, and rolls into the playoff. The old adage is that defense wins championships, but none of the other CFP participants will have seen an offense like this. The Baylor Bears will be the winners of the inaugural College Football Playoff Championship Game in a de-facto home game in Arlington, TX on January 12, 2015.

 

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