The Matt Rule era at Baylor didn’t exactly get off to the start many may have hoped for and expected. As if dropping the season-opener to FCS Liberty wasn’t enough, Baylor then fell to UTSA, 17-10, and capped the non-conference slate with a 34-20 loss to Duke. Baylor didn’t notch its first win until Nov. 4 in a 38-9 win over Kansas.
There’s quite literally nowhere to go but up for Rhule and the Bears, and there’s good news to that end.
After showing life at various points last season, including at home against No. 3 Oklahoma and against No. 23 West Virginia, Baylor will enter 2018 with a clean slate and enjoy what Athlon Sports ranked as the easiest schedule in the Big 12.
“Despite winning only one game in 2017, the Bears played hard for first-year head coach Matt Rhule,” Athlon Sports’ Allen Kenney said. “Baylor is climbing out of a deep hole, but this schedule may put a bowl bid in striking range.”
Similar to last season, Baylor’s non-conference schedule is one that, by comparison, is quite forgiving. The Bears open at home against Abilene Christian before traveling to UTSA for a revenge game, and the same opportunity will present itself the following week at home against Duke. On paper, Baylor has the talent to enter its Big 12 schedule at 3-0 before hosting Kansas, so ideally and quite realistically, the Bears could built plenty of confidence and momentum throughout the first third of their schedule.
Of course, the schedule that follows isn’t quite as kind, as Oklahoma will spark what may prove to be a stretch of seven straight ranked foes in the Sooners, Kansas State, Texas, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and TCU before the regular-season finale against Texas Tech. Simply put, Baylor doesn’t necessarily have an easy schedule, but in comparison with the rest of the Big 12, the Bears may enjoy the easiest path to progress, thanks in large part to the first month of their schedule.