Bears Looks To Improve Against Rice Before Big 12 Play

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HOUSTON (AP) – No. 21 Baylor is looking to improve in its last tuneup game before conference play when the Bears visit Rice on Friday night.

The Bears (2-0) beat SMU 40-13 on Saturday, but were disappointed with their start in that game that was tied 6-6 at halftime. They don’t want to get off to a slow start against the Owls (0-3) in their first road game of the season. Baylor coach Jim Grobe said playing away from home for the first time makes him anxious, especially as it relates to the team’s younger players.

“Besides playing in a hostile environment it’s just getting young guys to focus. You’re in an unfamiliar setting, you’re in a different hotel, you’re liable to find the youngest guys out in the hallway throwing ice at each other and running up and down the hallways and doing crazy stuff,” Grobe said. “We are not going on vacation, it’s not spring break, we’re going to play football.”

The Owls hope to avoid starting 0-3 for the second time in three seasons before Conference USA play begins on Sept. 24 against North Texas.

Baylor aims to start 3-0 for the sixth straight season, which would be the longest such streak in school history. They open Big 12 play hosting Oklahoma State next weekend.

Quarterback Seth Russell led Baylor’s second-half surge last weekend by throwing for one touchdown and running for another to start the third quarter and help the Bears pull away. Those scores were part of a performance where he threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 43 yards and another score.

Some other things to know about the Baylor-Rice game:

STEWART SHOWS OFF

Baylor safety Orion Stewart showed his skills against SMU, finishing with eight tackles and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. It was a performance that earned him Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week.

“He played really, really well and had a good amount of tackles, was a good leader back there and kind of calmed some of the younger guys down,” Grobe said. “It’s always good when the young guys see the old guys step up because it kind of encourages them to play better.”

MISTAKE-PRONE OWLS

The Owls have been mistake-prone in their first two games and have fumbled four times and quarterback Tyler Stehling has thrown three interceptions.
“Offensively, we’re really struggling,” Rice coach David Bailiff said. “I think it’s that we have young men trying so hard that we’re making too many mistakes. We have got to find a way where they get their confidence back, they get their trust back.”

SUCCESS AGAINST RICE

Baylor has won seven in a row against Rice and hasn’t lost to the Owls since 1992. The Bears are 48-30-2 overall in the series and have been particularly successful in Houston, where they’ve won eight of the past nine. The Owls haven’t had much success against ranked opponents and their last win over one came on Oct. 11, 1997, in a 27-14 victory over No. 21 BYU.

RUSHING RECORD

Baylor running back Shock Linwood is closing in on the school’s all-time rushing record. Linwood has 156 yards rushing this season, putting him just 48 yards shy of breaking Walter Abercrombie’s career record of 3,665 yards. The senior needs one rushing touchdown to tie Alfred Anderson for the school-record of 35 career rushing touchdowns.

NO FAN OF FRIDAY GAMES

Bailiff isn’t exactly excited about playing on Friday night instead of having the usual Saturday game.
“This is just me growing up in this state. Friday night should be for high school football,” he said. “Saturday is college and Sunday and Monday night should be for NFL. The world is now out of whack. We’re playing every night of the week. That’s just not how I was raised.”

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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