The Baylor Bears have dominated this season with the most explosive offense in all of college football along with one of the better defenses in the Big 12. But despite their glowing 7-0 record and gaudy stats this season, Baylor is an afterthought in the BCS National Championship discussion, stuck at No. 6 in the latest rankings behind the one-loss Stanford Cardinal. While the Bears have looked impressive and gotten the support of many of the human voters this season, they haven’t been able to impress the computers that factor into the BCS formula and that has kept them from being a legitimate contender for the national title.
Despite ranking ahead of Stanford in both the Harris Poll and USA Today poll (Baylor No. 5, Stanford No. 6 in both), Baylor is hindered by their poor computer rankings. Their average composite rank is No. 9 with one computer ranking them as low as No. 12. Stanford, meanwhile, is ranked no lower than No. 9 in any computer ranking and averages out to No. 5 according to those formulas. That difference is enough to push Stanford ahead of Baylor by .0185 in the latest BCS rankings.
The problem for the Bears is that their schedule is completely backloaded. Up to now, they’ve played just two teams with a winning record and neither of them come from a power conference. They’ve feasted on the bottom of the Big 12 so far and have handled them decisively for the most part, blowing out the West Virginia Mountaineers, Iowa State Cyclones and Kansas Jayhawks while escaping Manhattan with a win over the Kansas State Wildcats. They did what they were expected to do against teams that are non-factors in the conference race or BCS conversation. That poor strength of schedule is reflected in their rankings in the computers.
That will change starting this week, however. Over the next three weeks, Baylor takes on the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners in Waco, the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Arlington in a neutral site game, and the No. 14 Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater. Three straight games against top-25 opponents will not only show the world where Baylor is as a team, but it will legitimize the Bears in the eyes of the computers as a real contender alongside other undefeated teams at the top of the BCS.
Baylor has been fun to watch this season but their high-flying offensive fireworks haven’t impressed the computers this season. Can they prove themselves to the machines and get into the mix for the national title?