Greenberg on College Football: The most exciting team you aren’t watching…yet
The fast-paced, spread-style offense has been all the rage in college football the last few years, especially after the pointsplosive (yes, that’s a word) success of Chip Kelly’s Oregon Ducks.
Many teams have attempted to adopt this style of play, and this season none have been better at it than Art Briles and the Baylor Bears. I understand they’ve only played FCS Wofford and MAC middler Buffalo, but heads will always turn to get a good view when you put up 56 points in one half of football.
The Bears’ offense is run by a first-year starting QB. Alongside him is a top-notch NFL prospect running back, a four-year starter at wideout and a versatile junior receiver getting his first crack at the top of the depth chart.
The quarterback is Bryce Petty, a stylized clone of past signal callers Robert Griffin III and Nick Florence, who had only attempted 14 passes before this season. He’s thrown 40 in two games and completed 32 of them, four for touchdowns. His trusty running back is Lache (pronounced Lake) Seastrunk, a former Oregon commit who made a name for himself at Baylor last year with over 1,000 yards rushing. He will surely challenge for the Heisman this season and has gotten off to a stellar start, rushing for 261 yards and five touchdowns. There’s the veteran receiver Tevin Reese, a senior who caught touchdowns from both RGIII and Florence and has already grabbed two courtesy of Petty. Alongside Reese is Antwan Goodley, a wide receiver who will get some opportunities out of the backfield but also hauled in an 83-yard score, burning Buffalo defenders on Saturday.
Baylor won’t have a real test to their high-powered attack until they host West Virginia on October 5. In the meantime, they’ll welcome Louisiana-Monroe to Floyd Casey Stadium, and surely make them the next victim of a 60-point drubbing. They won’t play a ranked opponent until their eighth game when the Oklahoma Sooners make their way to Waco, and it won’t get much easier after that because Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas are waiting at the end of the schedule. Baylor will get plenty of time before the Oklahoma game to hone their offensive approach to the Big 12 by facing conference foes WVU, Kansas State, Iowa State and Kansas. All but K-State finished in the bottom half of the Big 12 last season, but the Wildcats lost their do-everything Heisman finalist quarterback Collin Klein to the sad world of post-college-not-good-enough-for-the-NFL limbo.
It may be a few weeks before you’ll be able to see them on national television again or even in a competitive game, but the Baylor Bears are a must-watch on Saturdays, even if it’s just another ho-hum 56-point first half. Either way, mark Thursday, Nov. 7 on your calendar for the Oklahoma game. If Baylor enters the day undefeated and sends the Sooners home a loser, they’ll be 8-0 and officially become part of the national championship conversation.
More high-scoring offenses worth your TV time this season:
• Oregon Ducks – They aren’t flying under the radar like Baylor, but they’ve put up 125 points in two games and are ready to run the table in the Pac-12 for another conference title. Running back De’Anthony Thomas is truly a human highlight reel, and Marcus Mariota is the best dual-threat QB in the country (even better than Johnny Football) and is second on the team in rushing with 235 yards and three TDs on NINE CARRIES! That’s an incredible average of 26.1 yards per rush.
Must Watch: Saturday, Oct. 12, the Ducks travel to Washington. We’ll see if Oregon is the national championship contender everyone says they should be or if Washington is for real after their big victory over Boise State.
• Texas A&M Aggies – It isn’t too often the Heisman winner returns to his team, but even if the Aggies were without Johnny Football they’d still have junior Matt Joeckel, their likely starter for 2014. Despite missing the first half against Rice on opening day, Manziel was the man everyone expected him to be in the second half as well as last Saturday against FCS Sam Houston State. The redshirt sophomore threw for 403 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another in a 65-28 romp.
Must Watch: This Saturday is the rematch of the year as A&M will host the Alabama Crimson Tide in College Station. We all remember the bobble, spin and touchdown pass from last year and the Tide have been playing that game on repeat in their weight room just waiting to sack Manziel and shove his face into the turf.
• Maryland Terrapins – QB C.J. Brown and WR Stefon Diggs led the way for this ACC team on the rise. Expect this connection to make multiple appearances on Sportscenter. Brown is your typical running QB and has put up 135 yards and four rushing scores over his first two games. Diggs is an electric multi-faceted receiver who can haul in the deep ball, explode down the field off a screen pass and even take an end-around out of the backfield.
Must Watch: Saturday, Oct. 5, the Terps travel to Tallahassee to battle Jameis Winston and the Florida State Seminoles. This is sure to be a game lacking in defense and even though FSU will likely walk out with the win, Maryland will put up a strong fight and demand some national attention.