If you watched Baylor take on Michigan State in the 2015 Cotton Bowl, then you know that the Bears had plenty of talent on the offensive side of the ball. However, you also saw Michigan State whittle away at Baylor’s lead in the fourth quarter and ultimately overwhelm the Baylor defense – and take the victory. If online college football betting fans expects Baylor to get through TCU (and the rest of the Big 12), the defense has to be better.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 10, 2015
Analyzing the Baylor Bears NCAA Football Odds Season Preview
One of the most important questions during and after the season in Waco was the status of defensive end Sam Ukwuachu, a transfer from Boise State who had sat out the 2013 campaign and was supposed to be ready to go in 2014. There were a lot of rumors about the reason for Ukwuachu missing another season, as the Bears seemed like they could certainly use an All-American on their defensive line, but it wasn’t until sexual assault charges finally emerged that the story became clear. His trial is supposed to begin on August 17 in Waco. The incident took place during his ineligible season, on October 20, 2013.
It took until June 2014 for the McLennan County District Attorney’s office to secure an indictment from a local grand jury. According to Ukwuachu’s lawyer, the relationship was consensual. Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett had said that he expected the defensive end to return in 2015. According to his attorney, Ukwuachu passed a polygraph and has been cleared by the disciplinary body at Baylor University. While at Boise State, Ukwuachu had been dismissed from the program for an unspecified violation of team rules.
What Will Happen with Ukwachu
If Ukwuachu is acquitted, it’s likely that he will return for the 2015 season, and he would play along side seniors Jamal Palmer and Shawn Oakman, as well as sophomore K.J. Smith – three starters from 2014. Brian Nance is another talented defensive end that provides the Bears with some depth.
What this means that (pending the outcome of the trial in the next few weeks) is that Baylor could have an even better defensive front than they had in 2014. This would help significantly in the area of rushing the passer and keeping the running game of the opposition from chewing up yardage and time off the clock.
Baylor ended up finishing the 2014 campaign as co-champions of the Big 12. They did knock off fellow co-champion TCU at home and could have won the conference outright, but they lost their game at West Virginia. TCU almost lost at West Virginia as well and needed a furious fourth-quarter comeback to stave off a similar setback. With a more solid defense in place, Baylor could knock off TCU, who sits in the #2 slot in most national rankings and, at least right now, appears a shoo-in to make the College Football Playoff if they can finish off opponents the same way they did in 2014. For this to happen, the Bears need to have a more solid approach on defense – not to mention a quarterback who will fill the big shoes of Bryce Petty.