• Aranda era begins Saturday with 2020 Baylor football season opener

    Baylor football head coach Dave Aranda addresses players at practice

    There’s no denying it — when it comes to college football, 2020 has already been a weird year. COVID-19 essentially wiped out most teams’ spring practices and summer workouts, and schools across the nation spent months debating whether football could even be played this fall.

    None of this is how new Baylor football coach Dave Aranda would have laid things out for his first season as a head coach — but he’s certainly up for the challenge. At long last, his Bears begin the season Saturday against Ole Miss Louisiana Tech Houston Kansas (6:30 p.m., ESPNU). Many things about this season will be different — from the reduced schedule to a tweaked gameday environment and beyond. But some things are also familiar; here are just a few:

    * Expectations remain high for Baylor football. The Bears received votes in both the preseason AP and coaches polls and are currently the first team outside the top 25 in the AP poll.

    * Quarterback Charlie Brewer will again lead the Bears’ offense this fall. Brewer has a chance to become only the second Bear ever to lead the team in passing yards for four straight seasons (joining J.J. Joe, BBA ’93). He is one of just two returning FBS quarterbacks to have passed for 20+ touchdowns and rushed for 10+ touchdowns in 2019.

    * Preseason All-American Terrel Bernard returns to anchor the Baylor defense. The 2019 All-Big 12 honoree was named to Athlon Sports’ preseason all-America team and is on the watch list for the Bednarik (best defensive player), Butkus (best linebacker) and Nagurski (best defensive player) awards, plus the Wuerffel Trophy (best combination of community service with athletic and academic achievement).

    * Other familiar names abound. In addition to Brewer and Bernard, returning starters include wide receivers R.J. Sneed and Tyquan Thornton; running backs John Lovett and Trestan Ebner; offensive linemen Blake Bedier, Connor Galvin and Khalil Keith; cornerback Raleigh Texada; kickers John Mayers and Noah Rauschenberg; and punter Isaac Power.

    * McLane Stadium remains one of the most beautiful spots to watch a game in all of college football. The photos speak for themselves.

    Sic ’em, Baylor football!

    [Updated 9/22/20]
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