Mustangs vs. Bears Game Preview

Bryce Petty returns as the helmsman for the high octane Baylor Bear offense. Photo Courtesy: Matthew Lynch
Bryce Petty returns as the helmsman for the high octane Baylor Bear offense. Photo Courtesy: Matthew Lynch

By Kendrick Johnson

Game Info
SMU Mustangs vs. Baylor Bears
Sunday – August 31 – 6:30 pm
TV: FOX Sports 1
McLane Stadium – Waco

The Baylor Bears enter the 2014 season with high expectations. The Bears are looking to build upon their historic season of a year ago which saw them start the season 9-0 while getting as high as number three in the AP poll.

The Bears will be defending a championship for the first time in 33 seasons with the kind of explosive firepower that has come to be expected from a team coached by Art Briles. Bryce Petty returns after winning the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2013 as a first-year starter, returning for his final season of college ball after throwing for around 4,200 yards and 32 touchdowns and rushing for an additional 14 scores as a junior.

Defensively, the Bears return the bulk of their front seven including linebacker Bryce Hager. There soft schedule at the beginning of the season will give the Bears ample opportunity to get good and work on developing all available cogs into their war machine.

After 64 seasons at the off-campus Floyd Casey Stadium, the Bears will open the new on-campus McLane Stadium for the 2014. The Bears first victims at the new stadium will be their former rival from their Southwest Conference days… SMU. A sellout crowd of 45,000, which will include people arriving by boat, will be there when the Bears open McLane Stadium against the Mustangs.

Baylor’s young secondary will get an immediate test from SMU, which finished sixth in the FBS in pass attempts last season with 619 and eighth with 341.4 yards through the air. That philosophy isn’t changing this season. Despite the pass-happy attack, the Mustangs struggled to reach the end zone – scoring only 26.8 points per game – and their 10.2 yards per catch was the lowest under Jones. Both receivers with more than 100 catches, including returning junior Darius Joseph (103 yards, 808 yards, five TDs), averaged fewer than 10 yards.

The teams have played 79 times and are tied 36-36-7, but Baylor has won 10 straight meetings and has a chance to lead the series for the first time since 1924.