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Baylor Bears vs. TCU Horned Frogs preview: How Texas was won

September 2, 2011  |  By Benjamin Miraski

Baylor made a bowl game last season.

Sure they got crushed by Illinois -- yes, Illinois -- but they made a bowl game, which means that Bears fan had something to cheer about for the first time since the kids that were playing on the team were in diapers.

And this season, the Bears are back with most of the team that helped them to that bowl game last year.

They don't have to worry about Nebraska or Colorado showing up on their schedule any longer (although Colorado might not be such a bad thing). And they are still operating under Robert Griffin III.

Not only is Griffin still running the show, but he is surrounded by the rest of his team that averaged 475 yards a game last year.

The same can't be said for TCU, which looks like a shell of itself after losing not just Andy Dalton, but most of the offense that helped the Horned Frogs get to the Rose Bowl.

Expectations are still high for TCU, but will this first game be more than they can handle?

Here are five things to watch:

1. How good is RG3?

Griffin is one of those players who performance gets lost in the weaknesses of his team. He was responsible for more than 4,000 yards of offense and yet, you wouldn't know it. That is because the rest of the country stopped watching Baylor when the Bears started losing games in the Big XII.

He will be facing a Horned Frogs defense that had its own share of losses up front on the defensive line and in the backfield. Because TCU is moving to a five DB set, it will be hard to throw the deep ball, but RG3 should have success battling the Frogs on the ground and in the short game. RG3 should be set.

This game could go a long way to establishing the lead Bear as someone to be reckoned with this season.

2. How does TCU move on?

Don't expect TCU to totally change its offensive scheme, but without an established passer, the running game should definitely take a step forward. That is, provided the line can protect it.

Baylor is returning an experienced front six and the TCU will have a hard time battling against it. The new offensive line will be tested quickly. There will definitely be a battle in the trenches early on.

3. Is there a hangover from the Rose Bowl?

Perhaps the best thing for TCU is that the opening game is on the road. It is still in Texas, but not at home in Fort Worth, which gives the Horned Frogs a little space.

That means no celebration of the Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin. That means fewer alumni hanging around the sidelines.

And it is Baylor on the other sideline, which means there won't be any celebration of the 2010 version of the Bears either.

Gary Patterson is too smart to allow last season to impact this year. He didn't do it last year after the Fiesta Bowl loss, and it won't happen again.

4. How long does ESPN spend discussing the future of Baylor in the Big XII?

Like Vanderbilt in the SEC, Baylor is an outlier in the Big XII. It isn't a football school. So, if things get crazy over the next few months as teams are pledged to new conferences, will Baylor be left out in the cold?

And where would the Bears be able to latch on in a realignment?

It will definitely be discussed (although TCU avoided it being a target of speculation by already being pledged to the Big East). The over/under is probably at least an hour.

"Oh was there a football game going on?"

5. The line is 3.5. Does TCU have what it takes to cover?

It is not surprising the line is tight on this one. TCU's offense is a big question, its defense is a question, and RG3 and Baylor can do a lot of damage on the ground and in the air.

With the game in Waco, it is not out of the realm of possibilities that there will be an upset Friday night.

And that is the way the MRI is going. Bears win straight up.


Posted September 2, 2011 3:40 PM

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