With Strength of Schedule Already Paying Off, Baylor Could Be Primed for BCS Run

Ben KerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterNovember 10, 2013

Nov 7, 2013; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears mascot Bruiser celebrates with the team after a victory against the Oklahoma Sooners at Floyd Casey Stadium. Baylor beat Oklahoma 41-12. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The formula for Baylor in the national title race has been the same since the first BCS standings were released: Keep winning and hope for help. 

That strategy is, little by little, paying off. The Bears came in at No. 5 in the latest BCS standings released Sunday night, up one spot from No. 6 a week ago. 

That small lift is courtesy of Oregon's loss to Stanford. And, for now, the one-loss Cardinal remain ahead of Baylor, along with undefeated teams Ohio State, Florida State and Alabama.

Nov 7, 2013; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears running back Shock Linwood (32) runs the ball in the third quarter of the game against the Oklahoma Sooners  at Floyd Casey Stadium. Baylor beat Oklahoma 41-12. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

But after Baylor's 41-12 win over Oklahoma Thursday, the Bears are closing the gap. Baylor's BCS average is only .007 behind the Cardinal and .03 behind the Buckeyes. All of the BCS' six computer rankings have Baylor in the Top 10. 

Baylor's strength of schedule in the final few weeks of the season will, at best, continue to improve with the possibility of two games against ranked opponents (Oklahoma State and Texas). At worst, it will remain the same. Point being, it's not getting any worse. 

In a perfect world, the Bears would not only like to go undefeated, but have Oklahoma State and Texas continue to win down the stretch. Baylor travels to OSU on Nov. 23 and hosts Texas on Dec. 7. The Longhorns and Cowboys play each other this coming Saturday. 

In the big picture, Baylor needs Alabama or Florida State to lose to have a shot at a BCS championship appearance. Where good seasons by Oklahoma State and Texas come in to play is if Baylor is fighting for that spot with an undefeated Ohio State. 

Given who Ohio State has left on its schedule—Illinois, Indiana and Michigan—another factor could be who Ohio State plays in the Big Ten title game (assuming, of course, the Buckeyes make it there). ESPN's BCS Countdown host, Rece Davis, argued Sunday night that, hypothetically, an Ohio State win over Michigan State in the Big Ten title game would be every bit as impressive as Florida State's road win over Clemson earlier in the season. 

Of course, there are already a lot of ifs/ands/buts being tossed around. There's still nearly a month of football left to be played. But, if Baylor keeps taking care of business, there's no reason it won't rise one more spot—maybe two. 

If either Alabama or Florida State loses in the regular season, Baylor could be in a good position to make its first BCS championship appearance.