A look at the Big 12: Baylor prevew


Baylor players celebrate after a pass on Sept. 27 at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones fell to the Bears 49-28.

Luke Manderfeld

TCU may have been the Big 12’s best chance to have a representative in the inaugural College Football Playoff, but thanks to the Baylor Bears, the Horned Frogs were unable to remain undefeated last season. 

Running to a 11-1 record in the regular season and a Big 12 title, Baylor knocked off TCU in a high-scoring 61-58 game

Settling for an appearance in the Cotton Bowl against Michigan State, Baylor ended up on the wrong side of a 42-41 game.

This upcoming season, many have already tabbed the Bears as the favorites in the Big 12 conference. While the Bears will have to break in a new starting quarterback, most of the impressive surrounding cast is returning. 


Baylor’s offense was top five in the nation last season, finishing fourth in the NCAA with 7,559 yards in total offense— edging out Big 12 foe TCU by two spots. 

Like the Horned Frogs, the Bears’ offense was centered around the passing attack, amassing 4,757 yards through the air.

But the biggest question when looking at Baylor’s roster is what exactly will happen to the passing game, especially at the quarterback position.

The Bears lost starting quarterback Bryce Petty to the New York Jets, who picked him in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. 

The two-time All American played in 12 of the Bears’ 13 games and finished tenth in the Heisman Trophy voting. The two-year starter graduated with 10 career records at Baylor.

The quarterback cabinet at Baylor isn’t exactly bare though, it is now Seth Russell’s turn to take the snaps, and he may be just the man for the job.

The redshirt junior played in eight of last season’s 13 games, starting once, and threw for 804 yards with eight touchdown passes while completing his passes more than 50 percent of the time (48 for 85).

Russell will have some of the best protection in the NCAA in front of him, with an offensive line that boasts experience and depth. It will be anchored by All-American offensive tackle Spencer Drango, who is entering his senior season.

It would be tough to talk about Baylor’s offense without taking a look at its receivers. After graduating Antwan Goodley in 2015, it’s on junior Corey Coleman and sophomore KD Cannon to take over as the top targets for Russell.

Cannon was one of the most talented freshman in the NCAA last season, grabbing 58 catches for 1,030 yards and eight touchdowns on his way to an All-Big 12 honorable mention. 

Coleman garnered All-Big 12 honors last season with 64 catches for 1,118 yards. 

Last season, injuries to some of the receivers and offensive line made an impact on the offense, but without injuries, Baylor’s offense may once again be one of the best in the nation.


The Bears’ defense finished 50th in the NCAA in total defense (4,964 yards) in 2014. Although on paper Art Briles’ squad was middle-of-the-pack in total defense, the quick striking offense often forced the Bears’ defense to play extra snaps.

The defense led the NCAA in three-and-outs at 6.38 per game and ninth in yards allowed per play at a 4.75 clip.

Experience shouldn’t be a problem for the Bears. The defense will return nine of last season’s starters and will be led by the “Gang Green,” the nickname for Baylor’s defensive line. The gang returns back five starters from last season.

The line will be anchored by senior All-American Shawn Oakman, who came to the forefront on the national scene last season because of his six-foot-nine, 280-pound frame. 

Defensive end Jamal Palmer will also bolster the defensive line, returning to the lineup after tearing his ACL last October. 

The weak point on the highly ranked Bears team was the poor play of the secondary. Baylor ranked 101st in the NCAA in passing yards allowed (3,201).

Junior safety Orion Stewart was underrated in the grand scheme of the NCAA, but was one of the top defensive backs in Waco, Texas. 

Stewart tallied 82 tackles with four interceptions and three pass breakups. 

He was one of the few bright spots for Baylor’s defensive backs. In order for the Bears to make a run at the NCAA college playoff, the secondary may have to make a dramatic improvement.

Baylor will open its season on Sept. 3 at SMU. The game that may decide the Big 12 comes on Nov. 27 against TCU.