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2021 Baylor college football preview: Can the Bears get back to the middle of the Big 12?

Last season was the ultimate throwaway year, with a new head coach added late and no spring practice. Baylor will need to improve offensively in 2021 to have any chance at success.

Linebacker Dillon Doyle of the Baylor Bears warms up before the college football game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium on November 14, 2020 in Lubbock, Texas. Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

Dave Aranda inherited a Herculean task in 2020 as the new head coach of the Baylor Bears: Try and put in your system without any Spring Practice, and do so while off-the-field controversies continues to swirl around the program.

While the cupboard wasn’t exactly bare when Matt Rhule left for the Carolina Panthers, it’s still not exactly overflowing. The Bears went from 35th to 46th in composite talent in just one class, and starting quarterback Charlie Brewer is off to Utah. They’ll need to find ways to plug holes quickly, and have been active in the transfer portal in search of solutions.

But the offense will need to be better, and that’s why BYU’s former offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes was brought to campus. He got Zach Wilson to the No. 2 pick in the draft using a dynamic offense that spreads via the run to set up the pass, and he’ll need to do so in a hurry. This defense looks like it could be pretty good, but they’ll need some help on the other side of the ball.

2020 Season Review

  • 2-7, 2-7 Big 12 (9th), no bowl game
  • Defeated only teams from Kansas last season

2021 Talent

2021 247Sports Composite Ranking: 46th
ESPN Returning Production: 72% overall (59th): 59% offense (90th), 85% defense (14th)
Returning Talent Index: Negative, 7th in Big 12
Returning starters: 6/11 offense, 10/11 defense
* All rankings out of 130 FBS schools

Key Player

Quarterback: Gerry Bohanon (Junior)

With Brewer leaving for Utah, so Bohanon will compete with Jacob Zeno (who threw a few passes in the 2019 Big 12 Championship Game) and potentially true freshman Kyron Drones to lead the team. Grimes from BYU mentored Zach Wilson for three seasons in Provo, but likely won’t have that level of talent to work with in 2021. Can he fit the current talent to the system?

Offense (non-QB): RB Trestan Ebner (Senior)

Ebner has 44 games played across four seasons in Waco so far, but might be a better fit for Grimes’ system that emphasizes stretch zone runs.

Defense: LB Terrel Bernard (Senior)

Only played five games last year due to a shoulder injury, but finished third on the team anyway in tackles with 55. Added 3.5 sacks and an interception as well, and has been a two-time All-Big 12 team performer in his career already.

Team Stats Projections

2020 SP+ final: 63rd overall: 91st offense, 42nd defense, 90th special teams
2021 SP+ projection: 51st overall: 90th offense, 23rd defense

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

To win national title: +75000
To win Big 12: +4000
Win total: 5.5 (Over +110, Under -139)

2020 Against The Spread: 2-6-1
2020 Point Total: Over 3-5-1

2021 Baylor Schedule

2021 Baylor Bears schedule

Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Saturday, Sep. 4 at Texas State 7:00 p.m/ESPN+ N/A
Saturday, Sep. 11 vs. Texas Southern 7:00 p.m/ESPN+ N/A
Saturday, Sep. 18 at Kansas 3:30 p.m/ESPN+ N/A
Saturday, Sep. 25 vs. Iowa State TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 2 at Oklahoma State TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 9 vs. West Virginia TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 16 vs. BYU TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 23 BYE TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 30 vs. Texas TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 6 at TCU TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 13 vs. Oklahoma TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 20 at Kansas State TBA N/A
Saturday. Nov. 27 Texas Tech TBA N/A