Under second-year coach Dave Aranda, the Baylor Bears had the best season in school history in 2021. They reached the Big 12 title game for the first time and edged Oklahoma State in a 21-16 thriller as the Cowboys’ Dezmon Jackson came up inches short on a desperate, fourth-down dive in the final seconds. Baylor safety Jairon McVea knocked Jackson out of bounds without letting him reach the pylon with 24 seconds remaining.Let’s take a look at the following analysis for your NCAAB Odds.
Baylor Bears College Football Season 2022
The Bears then capped their season with a 21-7 win over Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl thanks to Sugar Bowl-record 10 sacks, a 96-yard interception return from Al Walcott and two picks by JT Woods. BU’s Abram Smith rushed for 172 yards on 25 carries and shattered Terrance Ganaway’s single-season record with 1,601 yards. He also picked up a big first down on a six-yard reception that set up Gerry Bohanon’s two-yard TD pass to Tyquan Thornton that gave Baylor the two-touchdown lead with 7:24 left in the game.
The Bears finished 12-2, the first team in school history to win 12 games. Aranda won the 2021 George Munger Coach of the Year Award. Aranda, the former LSU defensive coordinator, was in high demand this offseason for the job he has done in just two seasons in Waco. However, the school was able to sign Aranda to an extension through 2029. Because Baylor is a private school, terms weren’t released but he got a huge raise.
What to expect this year from the Bears? Oddsmakers expect a step back as Baylor is given an over/under win total of 8.5 and is a +625 fourth favorite to repeat as Big 12 champion.
Aranda has to replace his star running back in Smith as well as excellent No. 2 back Trestan Ebner as the duo combined for 2,400 yards rushing. Waiting in the wings are rising juniors Taye McWilliams, Craig Williams, Qualan Jones and Jacoby Clarke, redshirt freshman Jordan Jenkins and fifth-year senior Josh Fleeks, who is transitioning from receiver.
McWilliams had a breakout 100-yard game last year against Texas Southern and was fourth on the team with 181 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries (10.6-yard average). He seems to be the heir apparent and most complete back.
“Last year was last year, we’re letting that go,” said Craig Williams, who missed most of last season after leading the team in rushing in 2020 with 196 yards and two TDs on 26 carries. “We took a lot of mental reps last year. This year, we’re just looking forward to getting better as a team, getting better in the running back room and taking up the slack with the guys who left.”
In addition, primary 2021 starting QB Gerry Bohanon transferred to South Florida. Bohanon’s entry into the NCAA transfer portal was a surprise but he left because Bohanon got beaten out for the starting job this spring by reserve quarterback Blake Shapen. Aranda told Bohanon he’d be the backup in 2022, and by alerting him, Aranda gave Bohanon the option to enter the portal and attempt to find a starting job in his fifth season in college.
As a redshirt freshman last season, Shapen started two games, including the Bears’ upset of Oklahoma State in the Big 12 championship game. In that contest, Shapen set a Big 12 title game record by completing 17 straight passes. Shapen, a four-star recruit and the No. 22 quarterback in the class of 2020, threw for 596 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions in six games last season.
Leading receiver Tyquan Thornton is in the NFL and No. 2 man R.J. Sneed transferred to Colorado, leaving new wide receivers coach Dallas Baker with some huge gaps in his unit. Ben Sims is a dangerous threat at tight end, but the leading returning wideout is senior Josh Fleeks, who had just seven catches in 2022 and is moving to running back.
Aranda has proved his mettle as a defensive coach and despite losing key pieces such as Jalen Pitre and Terrel Bernard, there’s reason for optimism that the defense that helped the Bears win a Big 12 championship can still be excellent. In Aranda’s two seasons, Baylor came up with 44 takeaways. That’s not going to stop.
Baylor hosts Albany and Texas State in non-conference play and visits BYU – that’s probably a 2-1 record with a loss to the Cougars. In Big 12 play, Baylor will be an underdog for sure at Oklahoma and Texas and perhaps at West Virginia. The Bears could run the table at home, although Oklahoma State won’t be easy.
Expert Baylor Record Prediction: Under 8.5 wins with 8-4 mark
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