Enjoy It While It Lasts, Baylor Fans, Here's Why the Bears Won't Go Undefeated

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Enjoy It While It Lasts, Baylor Fans, Here's Why the Bears Won't Go Undefeated
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

As the great, and fictional, race car driver Jean Girard once opined, "God needs the Devil. The Beatles needed the Rolling Stones. Even Diane Sawyer needed Katie Couric.

This is our Katie Couric to all the love Baylor football has been receiving. 

The Bears have been one of the most frightening teams for opponents in college football this season. Sources tell Bleacher Report that Baylor is the No. 1 cause of sadness among Big 12 coaches, as well as a major contributor to defensive coordinators refusing to get out of bed in the morning. 

In five of its six games, Baylor has been unstoppable, scoring in every way imaginable: offense, defense, special teams, short drives and long drives. Sometimes it looks like Baylor scores without trying.

However it scores, Baylor does it faster than most people can comprehend. 

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All those blowout wins resulted in the Bears receiving a No. 8 ranking in the first BCS standings. Baylor is fun to watch and all, but it's terrorized a group of opponents who, simply put, aren't all that good.

The schedule gets tougher once November starts, but the early verdict is that Baylor would need to go undefeated and have just about everyone else in a major conference lose along the way to earn a berth in the BCS National Championship Game.

There is a lot of football left to be played, though. So before Baylor can start comparing résumés, it needs to take care of its own business first. 

Four of Baylor's final five games come against teams with winning records: Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Texas. Three are ranked in every major Top 25 poll. All are very much in the Big 12 title conversation. 

The Bears are the best-equipped team in the Big 12 to go undefeated because, even on a bad day, they can score at any moment, thanks to their world-class speed. That's their saving grace. 

But all it takes is one time for things not to go according to plan. Here's how a team can beat the Bears.

 

Limit Baylor's Big Plays While Creating a Few of Its Own

Kansas State was able to do the first part in a 35-25 loss to the Bears in Week 6. What the Wildcats couldn't do was create a few big plays of their own. Rather, K-State ground out 327 yards rushing and ate up the time of possession. 

Limiting Baylor's big plays is a task easier said than done, but if K-State, replacing a majority of its defensive starters, can do it, someone else can too. There are some good defenses left on Baylor's schedule. 

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The Bears have shown they too can march down the field and score if necessary, but the M.O. of this offense first and foremost is to score quickly. 

In turn, that takes a lot of pressure off the defense, which did lay remarkably well in a 71-7 win against Iowa State in Week 8. 

"The fact that their offense is scoring so many points, they can let their pass rushers loose on defense," Kansas coach Charlie Weis said of the Bears on Monday during the Big 12 coaches teleconference. "The rest of the defense can sit back and play coverage."

Baylor is tied for 23rd in the country in passes intercepted with nine, according to NCAA stats. In six wins, Baylor has won the turnover battle four times. 

But the one time this season Baylor was in a close game, the defense struggled to take the ball away.

Things could have turned out differently had it not been for a late interception by K-State quarterback Daniel Sams, the Wildcats' only turnover. 

To have a chance at upending Baylor, teams need to beat the Bears at their own game. 

 

Disrupt the Bears Up Front

This is a continuation of the first point. How does a defense limit Baylor's big plays?

Baylor plays fast and scores quick because everyone knows their jobs and executes. That allows other skill players to make plays in space. 

Also, Baylor quarterbacks have only been sacked a little more than one time per game, per NCAA stats. That's a credit not only to the O-line, but how quickly the ball is out of the quarterback's hands. 

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

What K-State did well was to go sideline to sideline with the Bears and cause disruption up front, both with the offensive line and receivers blocking on the perimeter.

On average, Baylor loses about 16 yards rushing a game, according to the school's official stats. In comparison, against Kansas State, the Bears lost 31 rushing yards.

It's all about getting negative plays. And it just so happens that Texas Tech is one of the best defenses in the country at getting those negative plays. 

Play Baylor on the Road

The Bears have won 11 of their past 12 games dating back to 2012, so the sample size of "bad games" is admittedly small.

But if there's been an Achilles' heel for Baylor, it's playing on the road.

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Obviously, the worst game for the Bears so far in 2013 was the trip to K-State, and the last loss for head coach Art Briles' team was on Nov. 10 of last year at Oklahoma. Baylor is 2-7 in its last nine road games dating back to the 2011 season. 

Fittingly, only two of Baylor's final six games are at home. Three are on the road at Kansas (Oct. 26), Oklahoma State (Nov. 23) and TCU (Nov. 30), and the Nov. 16 game against Texas Tech is in Arlington.

Baylor shouldn't have an issue against the Jayhawks and neutral-site games have actually been good to the Bears lately, but one of those back-to-back road games could be a slip-up.

The 2013 Bears are the most dominant team the Big 12 has had since the 2009 Texas Longhorns. That could be enough to save Baylor from its recent road woes. Just don't be too surprised if it isn't.

 

Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval. 

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