By Will Martin
Art Briles was very matter of fact when talking about the way the 2014 season was going to begin.
Three games in thirteen days. That mantra was hammered into the team by Coach Briles.
Be prepared to get tested to start the month of September.
A Sunday night Labor Day Weekend matchup with SMU to christen the brand spanking new McLane Stadium. Perched perfectly in between the Brazos River and I-35. George W. and Laura Bush present along with former Heisman Champion Robert Griffin III to welcome 45,000 rabid fans (whom coach Briles thanked after the game) who were treated to a 45-0 whitewashing of the Mustangs.
Bryce Petty was money in the opener despite sustaining an injury in the shutout. Which took us to last Saturday in Waco where Baylor went with Seth Russell to start. We also saw ample playing time for two freshmen with a whole lot of upswing in the receiver core.
KD Cannon alone caught six passes for 223 yards-second best in Bear history. Backup Seth Russell amassed 438 first half yards (a new record by a Bear QB in a half) as Baylor rolled to a 70-6 victory.
Before we look ahead to what might slow down the Bears on Friday let’s check in with Art Briles and his thoughts on the 2-0 start thus far.
By virtue of the 70-6 win over the Demons of Northwestern State this marks the fifth straight year that the Bears begin a season 2-0. In the event Baylor gets a win in Buffalo (Bears lead the all time series 3-0) this would mark the fourth straight season to begin 3-0 under Art Briles.
KD Cannon’s 223 yard game against Northwestern State is the second best performance in the NCAA so far in 2014. Only 91 yards less than the all time record for receiving yards in a game. 314 is the record set by Terrence Williams a few years back. Ranked #6 with 141 yards per game average and second with four touchdowns after two weeks.
Unaware of the history that he was on the brink of making here’s KD Cannon talking about the 70-6 victory over Northwestern State.
Once upon a time Phil Bennett was a coach at SMU with mixed results. Since placing all of his focus on defense Baylor has been a juggernaut with creating turnovers. When Baylor creates two turnovers or more in a game, their record in the last 22 games is 18-4. The Bears defense has managed to cause two turnovers in 16 of 22 games.
The 45-0 shutout over SMU was the first for the Bears since a 27-0 shutout over the Cougars of Houston in 1963. When JFK was still alive.
In allowing only 88 yards to SMU in their opening day win that was the smallest amount since a victory in 1988 when getting a victory over the Running Rebels of UNLV.
One play that helped allow Baylor to get into the end zone was a great interception by Xavien Howard in the first half. Here’s Xavien in his own words.
It should also be noted that with two picks in two games Howard is now tied for fourth nationally in interceptions. Despite the 2-0 record, Baylor came into the Saturday night game with the Demons somewhat banged up. This allowed opportunities for Seth Russell, Corey Coleman, Clay Fuller, Antwan Goodley, Levi Norwood, and KD Cannon to shine. And shine they did.
In case you missed let’s check in one more time on the sophomore gunslinger who earned Big 12 Player Of The Week Seth Russell. Great backup to Bryce Petty in the event he can’t go in Buffalo on Friday.
The Bulls of Buffalo are 1-1 and are coming off a 47-39 donnybrook defeat to Army on September 6. Baylor will become the first Big 12 team to play in Buffalo. The Bulls are led by Joe Licata. Buffalo has won eight straight games at home with Licata under center.
With a #8 ranking Baylor becomes the highest ranked team to play at Buffalo’s stadium. Should Buffalo (having scored 38 or more points in each of their first two games) get 23 points on Baylor it will mark the fastest time since 1981 for the Bulls reach 100 points in a season.
Buffalo defeated Duquesne August 30 to claim their first win 38-28.
Two players to keep an eye on are junior wide receiver Marcus McGill #7 and senior linebacker Lee Skinner. It will be the start of three straight home games for Buffalo followed by Norfolk State on September 20 and Miami of Ohio on September 27.
Representing in the MAC kudos also go out to Joe Licata. Despite the loss to Army he still cranked out 401 yards on a 35 for 60 night and five touchdowns.
After the ESPN game in Buffalo on Friday the Baylor Bears will get the week of the 20th off followed by two road games to Ames, Iowa for the Hawkeyes followed by a trip to Austin to play the Longhorns of Texas on October 4.
Next home game at McLane Stadium will be on October 11 when TCU makes the trek into town. I will be there for that game. Hopefully weather won’t be a factor on that day.
If you have not made the trek to McLane Stadium by all means do so. They’re playing football on the Baylor campus again for the first time since 1935. I absolutely love what they did with the assembly of this stadium. It was like being back in Seattle to watch a Huskies football game right next to Lake Union.
Absolutely priceless. Here is one last recap of the night that was on September 6 in Waco with yours truly. A violent thunderstorm brought heavy rains moments after taping.
Look for a high scoring affair in upstate New York on Friday night. I’m placing the over/under at 119. Baylor should get to 3-0. Buffalo will play tough in the first half prior to Baylor pulling away in the second.