It’s not that Baylor just lost Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III. The Bears are moving forward without leading rusher Terrance Ganaway and leading receiver Kendall Wright. Add in Baylor’s defensive woes last season and we thought Art Biles was going to have a rebuilding year in Waco.
That might still be the case — it’s just Week 1 — but Baylor showed no signs of slowing down from a 10-win season last year in a 59-24 debut over SMU Sunday night.
Nick Florence, RGIII’s successor, was sharp against the Mustangs, throwing for 341 yards and four touchdowns. And what about the departures of Ganaway and Wright? Say hello to Jared Salubi and Tarrence Williams. Depth at the running back and wide receiver position is a luxury for the Bears this year, especially with the arrivals of Darryl Stonum and Lache Seastrunk from Michigan and Oregon, respectively.
Baylor’s defense still gave up some yards to SMU and Texas transfer Garrett Gilbert (34-of-59, 286 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions), but was able to force enough turnovers to get the game out of hand early. The Big 12 isn’t a conference that plays great defense so it’s not necessary to win a league title, but if the Bears can continue to force turnovers like they did tonight, they can be a an upper-tier Big 12 team.
This game was never in doubt in terms of the better team, but Baylor was impressive and could be the most underrated team in the Big 12 this season.