Baylor Not a Traditional Big 12 Power, but Are They the Best Title Contender?

Ben Kercheval@@BenKerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterOctober 11, 2013

Oct 5, 2013; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Bryce Petty (14) drops back to pass against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the first half at Floyd Casey Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Oh, what hanging 73 points on a respectable Big 12 defense will do for a team. 

Following Baylor's 73-42 win over West Virginia in Week 6, the Bears' national championship odds shot up again, this time to 6/1, according to Bovada. 

Of course, betting odds and realistic odds are two different things. The Big 12 is down and if there are more than two undefeated teams at the end of the year, chances are a Big 12 team would be left out. 

In that vein, there's no more polarizing team in the country right now than the Bears. They're fun to watch and can score with their eyes shut, one hand tied behind their back while spinning pottery. They're also largely untested, save for WVU's defense, and will remain that way until the final month of the season. 

Oct 5, 2013; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears cornerback Joe Williams (22) breaks up a pass intended for West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Ronald Carswell (12) during the second half at Floyd Casey Stadium. The Bears defeated the Mountaineers 73-42. Man
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Assuming for a moment that Baylor is in a position to play for a BCS title at season's end, how well would this team do if, say, Alabama or Oregon lined up on the other side of the ball?

Both have athletes for days and are extraordinarily well-coached. 

The biggest question for Baylor will be how the defense holds up if/when an opposing team keeps the offense from scoring a point a minute. Baylor's early-season defensive stats are solid, but again, competition has been lacking. 

The key for opposing defenses facing Baylor will be to limit big plays and force the Bears to score by marching down the field on long, sustained drives. That's something this offense isn't used to doing, but it is something it may have to do a lot more of once the final month of the season rolls around. 

Looking at the national landscape of possible BCS championship contenders, Clemson, Oregon, Florida State and Alabama all rank in the Top 25 of third-down defense. 

If placed in a shootout with Oregon, would Baylor's defense be able to make enough stops against the Ducks? Alabama showed it could score against a regressed Texas A&M defense; could it do the same thing against the Bears?

It would seem the danger to Baylor is going up against an offensive-minded opponent who can do just enough on defense rather than a defensive-minded opponent who can only do so much on offense. 

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