Baylor’s defense was one of the worst statistically in 2012, but it looked as though the Bears turned a bit of a corner last month when it physically dominated Kansas State’s offense and then-Heisman frontrunner Collin Klein.
Baylor built on that defensive success in a 49-26 Holiday Bowl win over No. 17 UCLA. The Bears held the Bruins to just 33 rushing yards, one third-down conversion on 17 attempts and less than 50 percent on fourth down conversions. UCLA’s two touchdowns* came when the Bruins started inside the Baylor 40-yard line after recovering fumbles. Had Baylor held on to the ball, it’s possible UCLA would have had fewer points.
(*Technically, UCLA had three touchdowns, but the one as time expired in the game was clearly short of the goal line.)
Speaking of points, Baylor had plenty of ’em. Art Briles‘ offense had 35 in the first half after running out to a 21-0 start. Though quarterback Nick Florence attempted just 13 passes he still broke the school’s single-season passing record for yards previously held by some guy named Robert Griffin III (4,293).
But the Holiday Bowl was Florence’s last game. Who takes over the offense next year is to be officially determined, but the Bears still have talent at skill positions led by Lache Seastrunk. The Oregon transfer is a self-proclaimed preseason Heisman contender next year, rushing for over 1,000 yards this season. He had 138 yards and a touchdown tonight.
This is beginning to feel redundant, but Baylor should be a team to keep an eye on for 2013. Briles’ name has been tossed around for other jobs, but he appears committed. If nothing else, the Bears should be an exciting team to watch once again.