Currently Baylor is 8-0 with their best win (win over highest currently ranked opponent) over currently #37 ranked Kansas State. The Bears are currently ranked as the #1 team in overall productivity (and have been nine of the ten weeks I have ranked teams this season) with the #2 ranked offense (slight improvement - read sarcasm) and an immensely improved #4 ranked defense.
While Baylor gets a lot of attention for their offense, I would like to note how productive the are on defense. Specifically, in the model that I use, teams that allow their opponents to move the ball, maintain possession and score efficiently are ranked lower on defense. Given how quickly and how often Baylor scores on offense (currently leads the league in kickoffs to their opponent meaning the defense is on the field often), the Bears defense is phenomenally productive this season. As you can see in the graph above, defensive performance has been the big problem with Baylor under Briles tenure up to this year.
The knock on Baylor is that they have played against a strength of schedule (SOS) of 86.13 which is "easier" than the average schedule to date for the "league" to date. A teams SOS is "easier" if it is between one and two standard deviations higher than the average "league" SOS, which is currently the case. Yet from the model's perspective Baylor is a national championship caliber team. Of the four regular season games still on Baylor's schedule, they have to play three above average teams in terms of production, with Oklahoma State the toughest challenge for the Bears. If they can make it though conference play unscathed, Baylor has a legitimate case to play in the "national championship" game in January.
The 2012 Bears are a tale of two teams, one highly productive (offense) and one highly unproductive (defense) The Bears finished the regular season bowl eligible at 7-5. Baylor defeated #36 ranked UCLA in the Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl to finish the season at 8-5 overall. Baylor was the #49 ranked team in terms of overall productivity with again the #3 ranked offense and the #123 ranked defense against an average SOS. Baylor University's best game was a 52-24 away win over #17 ranked Kansas State and their worst performance was a 21-35 loss to #72 ranked Iowa State.
Baylor University finished the regular season at 9-3 and defeated the #69 ranked University of Washington 67-56 - which seems more like a basketball score than a football score. Baylor was the #26 ranked NCAA FBS team in overall production, with the #3 ranked offense and the #98 ranked defense. Baylor's best victory was a 50-48 victory over #9 ranked Texas Christian University and the Bears worst performance was a 35-36 loss to #60 ranked Kansas State. The Bears played against an average SOS of 62.92 as compared to the "league" SOS of 63.24.
Baylor University finished the regular season bowl eligible at 7-5, but were defeated in the post-season by #18 ranked Illinois. The Bears were much improved over the previous two seasons and finished as the #51 ranked team in terms of overall productivity; with the #27 ranked offense and the #95 ranked defense. Baylor University played against a SOS of 60.92, which is "average" (i.e. within one standard deviation of the "league" average SOS of 63.10).
The Bears against finished the season at 4-8 and bowl ineligible. Baylor's best game was 40-32 victory over #47 Missouri and their worst loss was to #82 Iowa State all against a SOS that was "tougher" as compared to the average SOS for the "league". In terms of overall production, Baylor University was the #100 ranked team with the #102 ranked offense and the #68 ranked defense.
In head football coach Art Briles first season at Baylor, the Bears finished the regular season at 4-8 and were bowl ineligible. Baylor's best game was 38-10 victory over #104 Iowa State (yes all four of their victories were against teams ranked 104 or lower in overall production) and their worst loss was to #40 Nebraska all against a SOS that was "tougher" as compared to the average SOS for the "league". In terms of overall production, Baylor University was the #50 ranked team with the #46 ranked offense and the #53 ranked defense.