Bears hosts the Jayhawks to open their season
It what has been nothing short of an out of the ordinary college football season, the Baylor Bears have yet to kick off their 2020 campaign.
That changes Saturday in Waco.
Baylor will play host to head coach Les Mies and his Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas started its season — albeit on the wrong foot — two weeks ago against Coastal Carolina. As a result of a poor performance on all fronts in that game, the Jayhawks head into this meeting with Baylor at 0-1.
This will be the head coaching debut for Baylor's Dave Aranda. He's coming off a national championship as the defensive coordinator at LSU, and he'll look to improve that side of the ball for the Bears in a conference where defense is often jokingly referred to as "optional."
Kansas at Baylor
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Baylor -17.5
When Kansas Has the Ball
At this point, the Jayhawks just need something to get excited about and rally behind. They were average moving the ball against an FCS opponent in the opener. A similar effort against a Dave Aranda-coached defense comprised of Power 5 athletes won't be pretty. Ideally, Kansas wants to shorten the game and limit the damage Baylor can do on the other side of the ball. That starts by establishing the run, so you'll likely see a healthy dose of Velton Gardner and Pooka Williams — who combined for 148 rushing yards vs. Coastal Carolina — until the Bears prove they can stop the run consistently.
When Baylor Has the Ball
Charlie Brewer is on the brink of becoming the most prolific passer in Baylor history this season. This is his offense, and a lot of people are expecting a big year from the senior signal-caller. Opening against a Kansas defense that gave up three scores through the air to an FCS team certainly shouldn't hurt Brewer. Look for Baylor to try to jump out to an early lead in an effort to get Brewer and the rest of the starters safely on the sideline and give the backups much-needed reps in what will be a strange season. Wide receiver Josh Fleeks is Brewer's most trusted returning target from a season ago, so he'll likely be a big part of the game plan. You'll also likely see multiple running backs get carries when the Bears run. Trestan Ebner, John Lovett, and Qualan Jones should all log touches.
Anything but a sound win for Baylor is going to be an upset result in this one. Expect to see a well-coached Dave Aranda defense put on a clinic against an inferior Kansas offensive attack that will likely be playing from behind all day. It's going to be hard for Kansas to consistently stop Baylor from moving the ball and scoring. We think we know what Kansas is, but I'm not sure how much more we'll learn about Baylor on Saturday, unless Kansas can shock the world.
Prediction: Baylor 48, Kansas 6
Podcast: The SEC is Back Too & Week 4 Preview
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, SBNation, USA Today and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.