WACO (AP) – Baylor was also a defending conference champion the last time it played Lamar.
Just don’t anticipate a repeat of 1981, when Lamar earned what is still one of the biggest upsets in its history. The Cardinals opened that season in Waco with a victory over the Southwest Conference champion Bears.
Now the two-time defending Big 12 champion and fourth-ranked Bears (1-0) are playing their home opener Saturday night against Lamar, an FCS team in only its sixth year since reinstating the program after a 20-season hiatus.
“The great thing about competitive sports is that the people in the locker room are competitors,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “Usain Bolt isn’t going to go out there and run a 10.27 because the competition isn’t strong. … He’s going to run his best. Competitors, they play. They perform.”
Briles said the Bears’ motivation and job is to go win the game.
For outside perceptions after being the first team left out of the College Football Playoff last season, the Bears need to do more than just win. They need the expected lopsided outcome.
“If you come in with the mindset that they’re a lower team, they can surprise you,” new starting quarterback Seth Russell said. “We have to stay up and stay positive and continue to get better.”
Russell was just filling in as the starting quarterback in the Bears’ second game last season against an FCS team. Now he’s No. 1, and accounted for six touchdowns (five passing, one rushing) as the Bears piled up 723 total yards with a school-record 10.48 yards per play in a season-opening 56-21 season-opening win at SMU.
When Lamar (1-0) won on a late field goal in its last trip to Waco, the Cardinals were in their final season before moving down from NCAA Division I-A to I-AA. They played eight seasons at the lower division, then returned in 2010 as an FCS team — as I-AA is known now.
Lamar has played two Top 25 since teams since its return, scoring a field goal in each while being outscored 132-6 against at Oklahoma State in 2013 and Texas A&M last season.
A few other things to know when the Bears play Lamar on Saturday night:
ROTATING QBs: Lamar entered the season with transfer quarterbacks Joe Minden and Carson Earp. Both got significant action in a 66-3 win over NAIA Bacone College. Minden started the opener, but coach Ray Woodard said Earp would start against the Bears — and the two would again split time. The duo combined to throw for 261 yards and five touchdowns.
DEFENDERS BACK: After missing the opener because of one-game suspensions for violations of unspecified team rules, All-Big 12 defenders Shawn Oakman and Orion Stewart are back Saturday. “They bring a lot of energy and excitement to our football team, so that’ll be the biggest key for them and for us,” Briles said.
RECEIVING THREATS: After 1,000-yard receiving seasons a year ago for Baylor, Corey Coleman and KD Cannon both had 100-yard games to start this season, and each scored a touchdown. Jay Lee had three catches — all for touchdowns — against SMU.
BACK BY THE BRAZOS: The Bears return to the banks of the Brazos River for the second season in their new campus stadium. They are 6-0 in McLane Stadium and have won 16 consecutive home games overall. In their two non-conference home games there last season, they outscored their opponents 115-6.
STREAKING CARDINALS: Lamar has won three consecutive games, and five of six. The Cardinals haven’t had a four-game winning streak since reinstating football in 2010.
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