Baylor football is recovering from a 1-11 record during coach Matt Rhule’s debut campaign in 2017. The Bears suffered an embarrassing Week 1 loss to Liberty at home and never recovered, with the lone win of the season coming against Kansas.
Of course, time heals wounds, and the 2018 season has a bit more promising of an outlook for Rhule and Co. Charlie Brewer appears to be the go-to man at quarterback after emerging as the Big 12 Co-Offensive Freshman of the Year last fall, and Rhule hauled in the No. 30 recruiting class in the nation this past winter.
With all the factors present, SB Nation’s S&P+ has Baylor favored in five games this season — including the team’s Oct. 6 matchup with Kansas State at 60 percent. Aside from Kansas, it’s the only Big 12 matchup that Baylor is favored in.
The projection comes as a bit of a surprise, even with the Bears having home-field advantage this time around. The Wildcats return not one but two mobile quarterbacks in Alex Delton and Skylar Thompson. Though Kansas State only went 8-5 in 2017, four of the Wildcats’ five losses came by 7 points or fewer — the exception being a 26-6 loss to TCU on Oct. 14.
Nonetheless, the Wildcats will have their own questions to solve coming into the 2018 season. Kansas State will be without wide receiver Byron Pringle and defensive back/kick returner D.J. Reed, among others. But with Bill Snyder owning more than 25 seasons of coaching experience in Manhattan, Kan., fans can only expect him to make the most of a group that has no shortage of transfers and other potential unsung heroes.
Another factor to consider is that Baylor has defeated Kansas State in five of the last eight meetings, including a shocking upset of a No. 1 Wildcats team in 2012. Snyder and Co., however, have won the last two meetings. And while Baylor’s roster will have plenty more experience under its belt this time around, the unit is still largely unproven when it comes to winning Power 5 matchups.
Baylor begins the 2018 season vs. Abilene Christian on Sept. 1 — a game which the Bears have a 100 percent chance of winning, per the S&P+ ratings. Should the Bears avoid the mess they encountered last Labor Day Weekend, there could be a new hope on the horizon in Waco.