The Baylor Bears had run their record to a perfect 7-0 to start the season but were knocked for not “playing anybody” with one of the easier front-loaded schedules in the country. That all changed last Saturday, however, when the Bears welcomed the then No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners to Waco and thrashed them like they had the rest of their schedule. The win not only helps prove that the Bears are for real in 2013, it also sparked a major climb in the BCS standings for Baylor this week.
After Week 11, Baylor ranked No. 6 in the BCS standings thanks in part to a weak computer ranking. While the Bears sat at No. 5 in both human polls used in the BCS formula, they were weighed down by a No. 9 computer average and their composite BCS average was just .7745, which was .0975 behind the Ohio State Buckeyes who were at No. 4 and .0185 behind the Stanford Cardinal at No. 5. Fixing that weak strength of schedule helped them in a major way in this week’s rankings.
While they only moved up one spot to No. 5 thanks to the loss of the Oregon Ducks (now at No. 6), Baylor has significantly closed the gap on both Ohio State and Stanford. Their Week 12 BCS average of .8618 is a jump of .0975 from last week thanks in large part to their computer ranking improving to No. 5 this week. On top of that, they’ve closed the gap for spots No. 3 through 5 in the BCS rankings, trailing No. 3 Ohio State by just .0308 and No. 4 Stanford by a miniscule .0071.
That puts the Bears in prime position to jump both teams in the coming weeks. Stanford will continue to be hurt by their loss to the Utah Utes, who are floundering at the bottom of the Pac 12 standings, and won’t be able to stay ahead of an undefeated Baylor team for much longer. Ohio State finishes the regular season against three teams with a combined Big Ten record of 4-11 with just one (the Michigan Wolverines) having a winning record and none being ranked in the top 25. The next “quality” opponent the Buckeyes are likely to face won’t be until the Big Ten title game.
Baylor, meanwhile, is just hitting the meat of their schedule and will finish the season with three games against teams ranked in the top 25 over the final five weeks. They’ve already dispatched Oklahoma and in two weeks they face the Oklahoma State Cowboys (No. 12) before wrapping up the season at home against the Texas Longhorns (No. 24) in a game that could decide the Big 12 title. If the Bears win out, they’ll have one of the strongest November resumes in the country and should easily push past Ohio State and Stanford.
While they don’t have much chance of catching either team in the top two of the BCS standings, Baylor has the opportunity to position themselves at No. 3 with a strong finish to the season and become the team waiting in the wings in the event of a late-season stumble. Can they finish the job?