A team’s schedule is critically important in college football as with many sports. The type of schedule hoped for depends on where a team’s program is at that time and what goals can be realistically accomplished in that season. As a general rule, teams vying for a conference championship want the top contenders to be played at home, while schools trying to just achieve a bowl game want the middle of the pack schools at home in order to maximize wins. This season, Baylor’s schedule appears to be set up well if the goal is to be competitive in the Big 12 race. Whether that turns out to be a good choice or not will obviously be determined in the next 5 months.
Last year’s schedule worked out perfectly. Going into the 2018 season the goal was clear; make a bowl game. Fans were glad that we were scheduled to play the top 3 (OU, Texas, & WVU) teams on the road; those were games that coming off a 1-11 season would be an uphill battle in the first place, so you may as well take your lumps on the road and play the more evenly matched teams at home. Fortunately, that’s mostly the way the season played out. Baylor played 3 (TCU, OSU, Kstate) evenly matched conference teams at home and won 2 of them in the waning seconds of the game. I’m not convinced the Bears would have made a bowl last year if instead of playing TCU, OSU, and Kstate at home, the games were on the road and we had welcomed Texas, Oklahoma, and West Virginia to town.
This year the presumed favorites, Texas, Oklahoma, and Iowa State are coming to Waco, giving the Bears a homefield advantage. Whether it’s a good plan depends on the goals for the 2019 season and the beliefs individual fans have the team’s ability. The season’s schedule will hinge on whether or not our talent is strong enough to waltz into Fort Worth, Stillwater, and Manhattan and win at least 2 of those games. And whether Baylor has the depth to even take down OU or Texas at home? Said another way, will the 2019 Baylor football team be closer in caliber to OU& Texas, or OSU& TCU? If it’s the former then the Bears will be battling it out for Big 12 title game appearance, but if it’s the latter, the Bears could be staring right at 6 wins again.
Optimistically, the continuity and production returning this season will pay natural dividends in a league that will be breaking in several new quarterbacks and coaches. Pessimistically, when you look at Baylor’s recent conference wins (not including Kansas) it’s not like the Bears really dominated anybody. Some could say that without two heroic Denzel Mims touchdown catches and playing a 3rd string quarterback, the Bears would not have come close to a bowl game.
The stage has been set for another leap in the Matt Rhule era. If the goal is to compete for a chance to play in Arlington, Texas then the Bears have their wish with this schedule.