Baylor Bears 2023 College Football Preview
July 19, 2023
Record – 6-7
ATS – 7-6
The Bears followed up their 2021 Big 12 Championship and 12-win season with a bit of a stinker. It looked like they started to get things going in October after winning three straight games but they got POLEAXED by Kansas St at home (L 31-3), and that started the GLUG GLUG GLUG process. Baylor ended up losing their final four games including a blowout loss to Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl..
Baylor Bears 2023 Outlook
Baylor was mediocre on offense LY (#6 Big 12 rushing, #8 passing) as they only averaged 4.4 YPC (#7) and threw a few too many interceptions (19-11 TD to INT). QB Blake Shapen has shown flashes of brilliance, as well as inconsistency, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can improve in 2023. The RB room is one of the best in the conference as they bring back #1 RB Richard Reese (972, 14 TD) and add Oklahoma St’s leading rusher in Dominic Richardson (543, 8 TD). Three of their top-four THROW GAME targets are back and they just might have sneaky-upside at WR/TE. The offensive line looks like a problem area as they’ll be without four starters from LY including their center and LT. Hopefully the bodies added thru the portal can gel with the 2022 leftovers and form a solid group. Color us skeptical for now.
Baylor has been disappointing on defense in two years under HC Dave Aranda (2022, 2020) and phenomenal in one season (2021, Big 12 Championship). New DC Matt Powledge has just five returning starters to work with and our initial reaction to the depth chart is that it looks “good, but not great” at all three levels. The DL looks decent but they’ll miss the devastating presence of NG Siaki Ika who’s off to the NFL. #3 tackler Matt Jones and some intriguing transfer portal bodies should form an acceptable LB corps, but they only return one starter on the back end in safety Devin Lemear. This has the feel of an “average” Big 12 defense on paper but we’ll see how things go.
The Bears were subpar on special teams last season and this year they’ll have to find a new punter and PK. They’ll miss Gavin Holmes who booked a PR TD LY.
Overall – They start with four home games in a row but two of those are nasty (Utah, Texas). The Bears miss the Sooners in Big 12 play but have to play Kansas St and TCU in back-to-back weeks on the road (!) in November.
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – at UCF (Sept 30)
This game falls after the yuuuge date with Texas and before the battle with the Red Raiders. They’ll be playing in the BOUNCE HOUSE and the weather may not be to their liking.
Season Win Total
Market consensus July 19
Over 7 -115
Under 7 -115
It’s not impossible, but we believe it’ll be difficult to get to eight wins with this roster and schedule.
In 2014, both Baylor and TCU finished with 8-1 conference records. They were declared co-champions by the Big 12 despite the fact that Baylor defeated TCU during the regular season. Seems fair. There was no conference title game at that time so the Big 12 got screwed out of a spot in the College Football Playoff.
The Bears will be looking to avenge last season’s disappointing result but it doesn’t appear that they’ve got the talent to do a ton of damage. The offensive line is a concern and QB Blake Shapen will have to improve significantly for the Bears to have a shot to SHOCK the WORLD. The defense doesn’t look like anything resembling the 2021 stop unit so we’ll call for six or seven wins and a bowl game appearance.