• No. 16 Baylor football rolls into conference play as true Big 12 title contender

    Lache Seastrunk, Baylor football

    After scorching through non-conference play, leading the nation in six offensive categories and averaging 70 points per game, No. 16-ranked Baylor football finally begins conference play this Saturday with a primetime showdown at Floyd Casey Stadium against West Virginia (7 p.m., FS1).

    Outlets such as Sports Illustrated have noted the Bears’ prolific start and added Baylor alongside Oklahoma and Oklahoma State on the short list of Big 12 Conference title contenders. ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt called Baylor “this year’s ‘IT’ program in college football.” The Dallas Morning News wrote that Baylor “looks like the Big 12’s best chance to return to the BCS title game.”

    Baylor’s offensive numbers have been so outlandish that they merited an entire article from ESPN’s stats department. Among many notes, the Bears are the first FBS team to score at least 60 points in each of their first three games since LSU in 1930.

    Through the first quarter of the season, quarterback Bryce Petty has joined running back Lache Seastrunk in Heisman Trophy discussions, even as the duo have taken a rest early in all three games due to Baylor’s commanding leads. Petty leads the country in passing efficiency and yards per completion, while Seastrunk has extended his program-record streak of consecutive 100-yard rushing games to seven and ranks among the nation’s leaders in both rushing yards per game (ninth, with 139.0 ypg) and total rushing touchdowns (12th, with 6 TD). And yet another Bear is the Big 12’s breakout player of 2013, according to Fox Sports Southwest.

    But it’s not just the offense. Baylor’s defense leads the nation in tackles for loss, red zone defense and in forcing 3-and-outs, and BU ranks second in scoring defense (allowing just 7.7 points per game). The Bears have actually scored more touchdowns on defense than they’ve allowed. Sure, the Bears have “only” played Wofford, Buffalo and ULM. But where No. 3 Ohio State beat Buffalo 40-20, the Bears pounded the Bulls 70-13. And whereas No. 10 Oklahoma beat ULM 34-0, Baylor blew out the Warhawks 70-7.

    Limited tickets remain for the Bears’ final four home games: vs. West Virginia (this Saturday, 7 p.m.), Iowa State (Oct. 19, Homecoming), Oklahoma (Nov. 7, a Thursday night FS1 national broadcast) and Texas (Dec. 7, the Floyd Casey Stadium finale). Get yours before they’re gone.

    Sic ’em, Baylor football!

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