Matt Rhule’s first season as Baylor football’s coach in 2017 didn’t go according to script. The Bears went 1-11 — the team’s worst mark since going winless during the 1969 season.
A turnaround could be coming, however, this fall in Waco.
After hauling in the No. 4 recruiting class in the Big 12 this month, per the 247Sports composite rankings, Baylor is all but on an upward trend heading into Rhule’s second year as coach. And at least one expert expects his team to make some incredible strides in 2018.
Sports Illustrated’s Joan Niesen listed Baylor as her pick for a team that won two games or less last season to make a bowl game during the 2018 campaign. In other words, that would put the Bears at at least five more wins than 2017 — needing to record six victories for bowl eligibility.
“Rhule’s second year will have a bit of momentum from a recruiting class that finished on the edge of the top 30 in the 247Sports composite rankings. With a bit more luck on its side—and a little more continuity at quarterback, after injuries and transfers left sophomore Charlie Brewer as the most experienced returnee—Baylor has a shot at a bowl in 2018.”
Despite the ugly record in 2017, Baylor was competitive in its fair share of games within Big 12 play. The Bears held a second-half lead over Big 12 champion Oklahoma in late September and nearly overcame a double-digit deficit vs. West Virginia one month later. Baylor also hung tight with TCU for one half in the team’s season finale.
The Big 12 sent eight of its 10 teams to a bowl game last season — the highest percentage of any Power 5 conference. A bit of resurgence from Baylor would only further indicate the depth and parity within the conference.
Baylor kicks off the the 2018 season with a home game vs. Abilene Christian on Sept. 1. The Bears begin Big 12 play at home vs. Kansas on Sept. 22.
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