NCAA Preview: Northwestern State At Baylor

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Northwestern State (4-7 last season) at No. 23 Baylor (10-3), 6:30 p.m. on Friday

Line: No line.

Series record: Baylor leads 4-0.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Baylor plays its first game since the offseason upheaval that led to the sudden departure in May of coach Art Briles, who in eight seasons transformed the Bears from perennial losers to two Big 12 titles the past three years. The Bears will relish the chance to get some headlines for touchdowns and tackles after the lingering aftermath of allegations that the university didn’t properly handle accusations of sexual assault against some former players.

KEY MATCHUP

Northwestern State run defense vs. Baylor RB Shock Linwood. Linwood is only 204 yards shy of breaking the school’s career rushing record that has stood for 35 years. And he just might have a chance to do that in the opener against an FCS defense that allowed 275 yards rushing a game last season.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Northwestern State: QB Brooks Haack. The Demons have a graduate transfer starting at quarterback for the second year in a row. Haack started eight games last season at Louisiana-Lafayette.

Baylor: QB Seth Russell. He was the top-rated FBS passer (2,104 yards passing, 29 TDs, six interceptions) when he suffered a season-ending neck injury in the seventh game last season. Russell said he’s 100 percent. The Bears sure need the senior to be, and stay that way. There is no proven backup since Jarrett Stidham left Baylor.

FACTS & FIGURES

The Bears open their third season in McLane Stadium, where they are 10-2 while averaging 51.4 points and 630 total yards per game. Baylor has won its game against the Demons by an average margin of 50 points, including 70-6 two years ago. Northwestern State won four of its last six games last season after an 0-5 start.

(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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