Baylor football: What can we expect from Dave Aranda’s first game vs. Kansas?

It’s been quite the quest to this first game of the 2020 season for Baylor football, but Dave Aranda and Co. will finally see Kansas in Week 4.

After a chaotic 2020, Baylor is now on its fourth attempt to begin the season in a Big 12 matchup with Kansas.

From Incarnate Word to Louisiana Tech and Houston, Baylor has tried every avenue possible to schedule a non-conference game prior to Kansas. Due to COVID-19 concerns, all three have either been postponed or straight cancelled.

For the Bears, they are coming off an 11-3 campaign last year that featured a Big 12 title game and Sugar Bowl appearance, many of the country are viewing Baylor and 2020 as a “rebuilding season”. Dave Aranda’s first game coaching the Bears will be a tall task as they replace nine defensive starters and bring an entirely new coaching staff with no spring ball to prepare.

The Bears do bring back a lot of production on the offensive side from a year ago. Four-year starting quarterback Charlie Brewer returns with his leading rusher John Lovett as well as two of the top three receiving targets from a year ago in juniors Tyquan Thornton and RJ Sneed.

For Kansas, their season opening loss against Coastal Carolina didn’t give a ton of hope for the 2020 season. The Jayhawks fell to the Chanticleers for the second season in a row and only able to rack up 23 points and 189 passing yards.

The defense was non-existent in the first half, going down 28-0 until Kansas got on the board as time expired in the first half.

Kansas has some solid skill players, headlined by running back Pooka Williams. Wide outs Andrew Parchment and Kwamie Lassiter II make up a decent 1-2 punch. Below average quarterback play and a poor offensive line do not help the Jayhawks, when trying to find their playmakers.

The Jayhawks were below average in moving the chains on third down with a 4-11 mark in that category.

Here’s how to watch Saturday’s contest between the Bears and Jayhawks:

Date: Saturday, Sept. 26
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Waco, Texas
Venue: McLane Stadium
TV: ESPNU
Live Stream: WatchESPN

Keys to Victory

Baylor’s biggest loss from last year’s team comes upon the defensive line. Baylor loses all three starters, including Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year James Lynch.

Against a team with two pretty good running backs in Williams and Khalil Herbert, Baylor will need to bring some sort of pressure, under brand new defensive coordinator Ron Roberts. Baylor has linebackers with experience in All-Big 12 Terrell Bernard captaining the group.

Other contributors like Iowa Transfer Dillon Doyle and former Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year William Bradley-King will help that cause.

Expected starters Chidi Ogbonnaya, Gabe Hall and TJ Franklin combined for just four tackles for loss and two sacks in 2019. The Bears need to find every way possible to win at the line of scrimmage, whether that’s disguising blitz plays or just simply confusing Kansas up front.

For Kansas, they have to get some sort of pass game going. Baylor can score points and against a Kansas defense, they should put up quite a bit.

Baylor is relatively inexperienced along almost all of their defense, including their secondary. This is where Kansas’ wide receivers need to win. The senior trio of Lassiter, Robinson and Parchment need to take advantage of this.

Whoever Kansas trots out at quarterback on Saturday needs to have enough recognition to take some shots with his receivers and put Kansas in the best spot possible to win this game on Saturday.

Raleigh Texada, Kalon Barnes and Jalen Pitre headline the Baylor secondary, who combine for just three interceptions in their careers up to this point.

Prediction

Baylor has not lost to Kansas since Robert Griffin III was a senior in high school. Even with a slow start, the Bears get the job done in a 25 percent capacity stadium.

Both teams will come out somewhat flat, but the Bears will catch their footing and Baylor’s offense is overwhelming for the Jayhawks

Final Score: Baylor 41, Kansas 20

Next: Ranking college football's top 50 fanbases