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Baylor vs. Lamar Preview/Prediction Thread

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It's the 2015 home opener in Waco, you guys. Can't hold anything back now.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
vs.
4/4 BAYLOR (1–0) vs. Lamar (1–0)
Sept. 12, 2015 | 6:30 p.m. CT
Waco, Texas | McLane Stadium (45,140)

TV: FSN
Listen | Gametracker Gametracker | Game Notes Notes | Tickets

OPPONENT: Lamar Cardinals
ODB GAME HUB: Baylor Bears vs. Lamar Cardinals 2015
MEET THE PRESS: Baylor vs. Lamar
FIRST LOOK: Baylor vs. Lamar
ROLL CALL: w/ TV Listings, Radio, and Watch Party Info
SB NATION BLOG:
N/A
SPREAD: No Lines Listed
TV COVERAGE:
6:30p.m. FSN
WEATHER FORECAST: Mainly sunny. High 88F. Winds NNE at 10 to 20 mph. (Wunderground puts temp at 85° at gametime)

Waco Weather 9/12

BAYLOR UNIFORMS: THE GREEN PICKLE

There is no SB Nation Preview for Lamar. Sorry, folks.
baylorbears.com Preview
Bears vs. Cardinals Coverage

So, once again we're in a bit of a non-traditional game week in that our opponent is an FCS school that has lost its last dozen or so games against FBS competition, and the expectation for Saturday is that we're going to crush them.  That really limits our preview options, and you, the reader, have suffered accordingly.  We'll do the best we can.

Injury/Suspension News:

Baylor -- LB Taylor Young (OUT), DE Shawn Oakman (will start), S Orion Stewart (will start)

Lamar -- ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Advanced Stats:

Like I said last week and will say again for a few weeks to come, we're not playing with a full deck here on the advanced stats yet.  Soon, we will be.

Category

Baylor (1-0)

Lamar (1-0)

EDGE

Overall F/+ Rk 4 Uhhhh... BAYLOR?
Overall FEI Rk 4 (.228)
Well...
BAYLOR
Overall S&P+ Rk 6 (22.1)
About that...
BAYLOR
Field Position Advantage UNK
UNK BAYLOR?

If you're wondering why there are no values for Lamar at all, it's because FCS schools aren't included in the F/+ rankings or any of its concordant subrankings.  Yay.  At least you got to see where Baylor ranks after a week, though.

I said earlier this week that if Baylor loses to Lamar tomorrow night, it's the biggest upset in the history of CFB.  Part of that was intentional hyperbole; part was a serious statement.  Upon reflection, I'm not 100% sure that's accurate for the history of college football, but it would almost certainly be the biggest upset of the modern era, and definitely the biggest upset of a Top-5 FBS school.

I'd probably just shutter the blog and live out my days as a hermit like Merlin in Mary Stewart's trilogy from 40 years ago. I'd try to avoid getting killed by my protege, but what can you do?

Players to Watch (for Lamar):

Before I go on, I want to point something out: ESPN has zero stats for anyone on Lamar's team except the kicker.  No quarterbacks, no running backs, no wide receivers.  Just the kicker.  What's that about, ESPN?

Thankfully, Lamar itself has filled in the gaps.

QB Carson Earp -- Carson Earp. Seriously.  That's not a character from Tombstone, that's Lamar's starting QB for this game. The 6-4, 210-pound junior transferred to Lamar this year from Navarro Junior College, and though he rotated with the next guy on this list in their first game, Coach Woodard apparently announced that Earp is the guy tomorrow.  I think these are highlights from last season at Navarro, but I'm not 100% sure.  He looks like he's got a strong arm and loves to sling it deep like ol' sexy Rexy Grossman, so we'd better be ready for that.

Also worth noting: Earp had 3 rushes for 36 yards against Bacone.  I don't know if that means anything, but it's worth noting.

QB Joe Minden -- Minden, a senior from Coppell, got the majority of the snaps last week against Bacone and went 16/20 for 170 yards and 3 TDs.  This week, he's apparently the backup, but we should probably expect a rotation of sorts should things not go well with Earp.

RB/WR Michael Handy -- Handy, a 5-11 junior from Conroe, had 5 catches for 63 yards and 1 TD to lead all of Lamar's receivers last week.  I honestly could have put several people here since the Cardinals were so balanced against Bacone, including a number of running backs.

DL Larance Hale -- Led Lamar in tackles a week ago with 6, including 3 tackles for loss.  He's listed at 6-2, 280 pounds, but I don't know what classification he is since it says he's a freshman, but that he spent last year sitting out as a sophomore.  I don't think that's how this works.

What I'll Be Watching For:

Oakman's Return -- Does that sound like the title of a game in the Uncharted series?  Great.

Shawn Oakman comes back this week after sitting out due to suspension, and I'll be watching to see how he performs. Does he absolutely wreck shop against an undermanned foe with no one that should be able to block him?  Or does he Jadeveon Clowney it up and go through the motions?  There's going to be a lot of eyes on him considering he missed the last game, so I'm hoping it's the former.

The Rushing Game -- I want to see 40+ rushing attempts, and I don't care where they come from. That being said, the more Terence Williams we see, the more points it means we're leading by.

Containment -- Our DEs/LBs wholly failed through basically the entire first half against SMU to keep contain on the edge against Matt Davis this week, and though I don't think Lamar has a Matt Davis on their roster, I want to see improvement in that area.  Set and keep the edge, guys.  Don't try to be heroes.

My Prediction:

This probably seems like the least-informative preview post for a game in ODB's history because it absolutely is.  This early in the season, with this quality of opponent, there's only so much you can say.  If Baylor doesn't blow them out at home tomorrow, we've got problems.  If Baylor does, it doesn't prove anything.  That's why you don't schedule things in the first place: all you have is down-side.

I expect for Baylor to score between 60 and 70 points, probably no more because contrary to popular belief, Briles doesn't try to run things up.  I also expect for Seth Russell to get out of the game early after throwing for something like 300 yards, and for the rushing attack to be a big focus with Shock Linwood, Devin Chafin, Johnny Jefferson, and Terence Williams healthy and itching for carries.

If I'm right and Seth Russell leaves relatively early after halftime, that means we're going to get to see a lot of Jarrett Stidham.  In that, I think, you have the best possible defense for scheduling a game like this: it gives you an opportunity to see a lot of different players and put them through their paces.

As I said above, if Baylor doesn't absolutely obliterate Lamar,, we have serious issues.  They don't have nearly the talent we do on either line or at the skill positions, nor do they have anything approaching our depth.  That said, they also have nothing to lose.  See all those long passes Earp threw in that highlight video?  Get ready for that again, particularly if they think we're vulnerable to it.  It's what I would do if I was Lamar and likely to be either playing from behind or trying to score a huge upset.  There's no reason not to.

Of course, every time I get all doom and gloom about a game like this imagining the horrifying possibilities of a crazy upset, things generally turn out ok.  Those guys in Vegas are pretty smart, after all.

Final Score: Baylor 66, Lamar 13.

Give me your predictions in the comments and vote in the poll!