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Baylor Edges Rice 21-13; Bears Move to 3-0

A close win

NCAA Football: Baylor at Rice Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t easy, but Baylor (3-0) defeated Rice (0-3) 21-13. The Bears will take on Iowa State at 2:30 on Saturday at McLane Stadium.

Rice scored with 8:42 left to make it 21-13. The Baylor defense had a nice game, but they couldn’t stop some of Rice’s zone reads. The Bears also gave Rice’s receivers plenty of space all evening, which allowed them to keep advancing.

The offense put Baylor in that spot. The Owls should have given up way more than 21 points. Matt Rhule elected to attempt a field goal on 4th and 2 in the first quarter. The Bears missed. Baylor lost two turnovers. They couldn’t get much from Trestan Ebner or John Lovett—which wasn’t really their fault—the duo had nine carries for 18 yards through the first 52 minutes of the game.

The defense came through though. James Lockhart picked up back-to-back sacks (he shared the second one with James Lynch) and Rice punted with 3:10 left.

Rice looked like they’d get one more shot, but Brewer found Mims in the middle of Rice’s zone on 3rd and 13. Mims made a spectacular catch to go over 100 yards receiving in the game, and the Bears left with a close victory.

Baylor led 21-3 at halftime. The Bears’ offensive line struggled to get much separation. But Charlie Brewer made some nice throws, and Denzel Mims and Chris Platt were able to come up with big catches. Josh Fleeks also waltzed in for a touchdown on a nice run. The defense gave Rice’s receivers plenty of space, but they contained rushing opportunities and prevented deep completions.

The Bears weren’t very good in the second half. Brewer had a good day (20-of-27 for 303 yards)—his rushing and moving of the pocket helped an offensive line that didn’t have their best game—but he fumbled after recovering a bad Jake Fruhmorgen snap. When the offensive got the ball after the defense stopped Rice early in the fourth quarter, they elected to run; that was a perplexing decision for a team that couldn’t move the line much all game.

Baylor took care of business in non-conference. The Bears finished 3-0, and they looked very good at times. The defense appears to be much improved. But the offensive line has to be better, and the Bears have to be able to run. They also need to take chances.

It’s nice that Baylor is 3-0, but the expectation is not to go 6-6 this season. Baylor played like a team that could win 10 games in their first two games. They need to be that team again next week. Iowa State is a lot better than Rice, and Baylor is a lot better than they were tonight.