Nobody can deny that 2018 was a successful season for the Baylor football team. When it was all said and done the Bears had a six-win improvement, capped off by an exciting bowl game victory. Now, in year three of the Matt Rhule era, gauging success is more nuanced. But with change and uncertainty surrounding the Big 12, suddenly the Bears seem to be one of the more stable teams in the conference.
5 wins or less –This would likely be unacceptable to the fanbase. You have to remember that the Bears will essentially have three wins built in during the non-conference schedule. And, although Kansas should be better this year, they probably won’t have the talent to match up with the Bears. Thus, five wins or less would likely mean that Baylor takes only one of WVU/ISU/Texas Tech home games. I’ll even go as far as to say that this win total would be unacceptable even if Charlie Brewer went down in a tragic season-ending injury. Playing freshman quarterbacks these days is a hardly a phenomenon anymore, and there will be plenty of experienced playmakers around to rely on.
6 Wins – How fans react to a six-win total would likely be decided on how the games played out. A year where Baylor had to fight through injuries, battle with off field distractions (NCAA sanctions), and close losses would be understandable. But if it’s the same story as last year, where the defense is giving up big plays every game, fans might grow weary and judge harshly. If Baylor maintains a healthy team, on paper, Baylor should do better than six wins.
7 or 8 Wins – This scenario would mean that the program is progressing nicely in the right direction. It would mean one of the two things that a Matt Rhule squad has yet to accomplish had happened. Either the Bears beat a quality Big 12 team on the road or Baylor was able to get a signature win at home against possible ranked opponents Texas, Oklahoma, or Iowa State.
9 or more Wins – This would be extremely satisfying to the entire fanbase, and it’s not completely out of the question. Baylor is one of only three teams in the conference to return both their starting quarterback and head coach from the 2018 season, with Texas and Iowa State being the other two. As such, I expect the chemistry to be better for the Bears, especially in those late September & Early October games. Furthermore, to claim as impossible for Baylor to win nine games would mean that it was unrealistic to believe Baylor could win against an Oklahoma State, TCU or Kansas State on the road. All are tough places to play, but each of those games were decided by one possession last year so this possibility is not insurmountable.