WACO (AP) – Fifth-ranked Baylor got the expected lopsided victories and big offensive numbers in its first two games.READ MORE: Arlington Native Maren Morris Wins Female Artist Of The Year At ACM Awards
The two-time defending Big 12 champion Bears (2-0) just haven’t been putting away non-conference opponents as quickly as they did the past two seasons.
“We have to understand, and it’s something that I haven’t done a good job with this year … of really making sure that we’re still the hunter, and that we’re still hungry, and we’re still determined and we still keep our edge,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “I think I’ve lost my edge a little bit quite honestly, and it’s something that I don’t want to happen.”
Coming off an open date, Baylor plays its final non-conference game Saturday against Rice (2-1).
The Bears are the nation’s best offense again, averaging 754 yards and 61 points a game. They are nearly five-touchdown favorites against the Owls, who lost 42-28 at Texas before winning their Conference USA opener last week.
“It’s one of those where you go in and you have to dream big,” Rice coach David Bailiff said. “We were dreaming big when we went to the University of Texas. We have to believe that we can do it, and we have to play like we can do it.”
The Bears last season outscored non-conference opponents 73-0 in the first quarter, and 115-3 by halftime. In 2013, they had 28-0 and 35-0 first-quarter leads, and after being up only 28-13 in another game went ahead 56-13 by halftime.
But two Saturdays ago against Lamar, the FCS team led 14-13 early in the second quarter and was tied at 21 before Baylor scored two touchdowns in the final 4 minutes of the first half. The Bears went on to win 66-31.READ MORE: Fort Worth Officer Fatally Shoots Armed Attempted Carjacking Suspect, Chief Says
SMU, a one-win team last year, was at the 3 and within 28-21 before a sack on the final play of the first half with no timeouts left. The Bears scored 28 unanswered points after halftime for a 56-21 season-opening win.
“You can’t play up or down to any opponent. You have to play the best that you can all the time, and for us, that is playing with that chip on our shoulder,” All-America tackle Spencer Drango said. “A lot of times we have to fight through it. We always find a way to get that edge.”
A few other things to know when the former Southwest Conference rivals play:
HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE: Baylor’s 17-game home winning streak is the longest among FBS teams after Alabama’s loss last weekend to Ole Miss. That includes winning all seven games the Bears have played at their new riverfront campus stadium that opened last season.
GETTING BETTER: Rice senior quarterback Driphus Jackson had used the words “unacceptable” and “embarrassing” to describe his first two games this season. But in a win at North Texas last week, Jackson completed 29 of 39 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns. He had only 26 completions for 262 yards in the first two games.
BALANCED OFFENSE: Baylor is the only FBS team to rank top-five nationally in passing (398 yards per game) and rushing (356 yards). The Bears also led the nation in total offense the last two seasons. Bowling Green is second this year, 145 yards a game less than Baylor.
NO BIG UPSETS: Rice has lost its last 24 games against Top 25 teams, losing those by an average margin of 31 points. The Owls last beat a ranked team when they upset No. 21 BYU 27-14 in 1997.
McGOWAN MIA: LaQuan McGowan, a 410-pound tight end who caught a touchdown pass in the Cotton Bowl, has no catches this season. “We’ve really increased his reps and increased his awareness to go with it,” Briles said. “I think we’ll see increased improvement here over the next couple of weeks.” Plus, junior TE Tre’Von Armstead was dismissed from the team last week for an unspecified violation of team rules.MORE NEWS: Authorities: No One In Driver's Seat Of Tesla Before Crash That Killed 2 In Texas
(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)