Sunday, May 29, 2016

Baylor Bears 2016 outlook

Baylor Bears

2015 record: 10-3, 6-3 Big 12

2016 schedule:

Sept. 3 vs Northwestern State
Sept. 10 vs SMU
Sept. 16 (Fri.) at Rice
Sept. 24 vs Oklahoma State
Oct. 1 at Iowa State
Oct. 15 vs Kansas
Oct. 29 at Texas
Nov. 5 vs TCU
Nov. 12 at Oklahoma
Nov. 19 vs Kansas State
Nov. 25 (Fri.) vs Texas Tech (Arlington)
Dec. 3 at West Virginia

With the suspension and eventual termination of coach Art Briles on May 26 as a result of allegations of multiple players committing sexual assaults on fellow students, the Baylor Bears are in limbo going forward.

Sans the coaching situation, Baylor comes off a 10-3 season, but critical late season losses to TCU and Oklahoma destroyed any chances of not only making the College Football Playoff, but any of the New Year's Six games.

The second-ranked rushing offense (326.7 yards per game) in the FBS will be led by the one-two running back punch of Shock Linwood and Johnny Jefferson.

In order for quarterback Seth Russell to receive maximum protection, the offensive line will go through a rebuild as center Kyle Fuller returns as the only starter from last season.

Players To Watch For- Senior quarterback Seth Russell:

Barring any setbacks, Russell should be on track to start against Northwestern State on Sept. 3 after missing the final six games last season because of a neck injury which required surgery.

Russell's 2015 stats proved to be gaudy in seven games with 29 touchdown passes and six interceptions, with a quarterback rating of 189.7.

Senior center Kyle Fuller:

As mentioned earlier in the outlook, Fuller returns to man the Baylor offensive line and was named to the 2016 Rimington Trophy Spring watch list on May 17. 

Fuller earned second-team All-Big 12 honors and started all 13 games last season for the Bears, along with being a part of the offensive line that allowed a conference best 1.15 sacks per game.

Key Game- Nov. 5 vs TCU:

As former members of the Southwestern Conference, both teams rarely contended at the same time, but things changed after the split in 1996 to the Western Athletic Conference and Big 12, respectively.

Both teams played frequently, but it was not until the 2011 high-scoring affair in Waco, where the rivalry began to pick up national steam with Baylor defeating TCU 50-48.

Baylor became a force to be reckoned with on the national stage as it has been bowl-eligible in each season since. The duels these two teams have put together in recent years have made this game stand out on the schedule.

The last three meetings have been decided by a total of 13 points and expect this edition to be no different as potential stakes in the New Year's Six could be up for grabs in the first week of November.

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Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.