Lamar Cardinals vs #4 Baylor Bears
Saturday – September 12 – 6:30 pm CT
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
McLane Stadium – Waco
Baylor started the season off last Friday night with a crucial victory over the SMU Mustangs. The first quarter saw Baylor QB Seth Russell torch the Mustangs for 182 yard passing and two touchdowns. Russell added 24 yards on the ground which including a 4-yard TD run. Running back Devin Chafin added to the score with his own 3-yard TD run. However, SMU was not going to go down quietly and midway through the second quarter, the score was 28-21. Baylor’s next two drives went backwards for -8 and -6 yards. An interception by Russell on the second drive gave the Mustangs the ball at the Baylor 33 with 2:38 left on the clock. However, the defense came up big with an impressive goal line stand to end the period. With the ball at Baylor 3 yard line and just under a minute to play, Baylor stuffed the Mustangs for no gain on consecutive plays. On third down, a timely sack of Mustang QB Matt Davis by MLB Grant Campbell let time expire and allowed Baylor to escape the half with its 7 point lead intact. SMU wouldn’t score again as the Baylor defense forced the Mustangs into 5 punts and a second interception in the second half. The Bears would go on to score 28 unanswered points, and coasted to victory 56-21.
The Bears next face FCS opponent, Lamar. The Lamar Cardinals are coming of a 66-3 win over NAIA Bacone. In the game the Cardinals demonstrated a balanced offensive attack, rushing for 264 yards and passing for another 261 yards. In the game, the Cardinals QB Joe Minden went 16 of 20 for 170 yards and three touchdowns. Lamar is coming off an 8-4 season that included a 73-3 loss to Texas A&M which should provide a good indication of how this game will play out.
- Baylor’s backups should make an early entrance. Coach Art Briles has stated that it hard to finish a season without losing starters to injuries for at least a portion of a season. The Bears will be looking to keep their starting lineup healthy and give the second team players more in game experience against the Cardinals. This is especially true for freshman QB Jarrett Stidham, who would be called upon to lead the Bears if Russell were to go down. Look for the backups to get the call as soon as things get out of hand.
- Even though starting QB Seth Russell passed for 376 yards and 5 touchdowns, there are still things he wants to improve on. His .500 completion percentage for starters. After the game, Russell admitted he missed some throws and threw the ball behind his receivers on several occasions. In his post-game statement Russell also expressed concern about his turnover “…I forced that ball, I probably shouldn’t have thrown it”. Lamar should be the perfect opportunity for Russell to work on his accuracy and decision making.
- The Bears offense has to fix its penalty problems. In the SMU game, on the first four drives, the Bears had zero penalties and came away with four touchdowns. On the next three possessions, the Beats had five penalties, totaling 30 yards, resulting in two punts and an interception. On the Bears four scoring drives in the second half, they managed only one penalty free drive. Penalties kill drives and lose games with the Michigan State loss being just the latest example. Coach Briles knows this, so look to see if the Bears can get it corrected this Saturday.
- As with the offense, look for the Bears to bring on the backups as early as possible. TCU lost one of its defensive starters for the year, and might lose another. Baylor will not want to risk injuries to the starters in this game. This should mean that the Bears second team defense is matched up against Lamar’s first team offense for much of the game. Watch to see how well they do at getting the Cardinals off the field.
- Shawn Oakman sat out the opener against SMU for a violation of team rules. Look for him to make his presence known against Lamar. Oakman is being talked about as a potential first round draft pick, and he is going to want to put his talent on display against the overmatched Cardinals. Look for Oakman to be a disruptive force in the Lamar backfield, for at least as long as he and the starters are in the game.
- In the SMU game, poor tackling allowed the Mustangs to gain extra yards, get first downs and extend drives. Senior Safety Terrell Burt addressed this after the game by saying “We work on tackling every day, and that’s something that shouldn’t happen”. It will be interesting to see how much the defense takes this to heart this week.
This game is generally expected to be a one sided blowout. Given the speed at which Baylor can put points on the board it’s hard to argue with that assessment. However, games like this have bitten ranked teams before. In 2007, #5 ranked Michigan was embarrassed at home by a visiting FCS opponent, the Appalachian State Mountaineers, 34-32. So the Bears will want to come in focused and ready to play. With that being said, it is doubtful that Lamar can hold Baylor under 40 points and just as unlikely that they can put up enough points to defeat the Bears. Look for the Bears to win in a one sided drubbing that is over by halftime.
Prediction: Baylor 73, Lamar 10.