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BYU Football Gearing Up To Face Big 12 Standard Bearer Baylor

Sep 5, 2022, 3:28 PM
BYU Football, Baylor, Big 12...
BYU football will look to show how much they've improved in their physicality when taking on defending Big 12 Champ Baylor on Saturday in Provo. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
(Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – After BYU football suffered a 38-24 loss to Baylor in Waco last year, BYU coach Kalani Sitake called out his team’s physicality.

The trenches are where Baylor imposed their will, and they outclassed BYU the entire second half.

At the time, BYU was the nationally-ranked team, while Baylor was unranked and looking to gain respect.

The Bears earned that respect from BYU as they pushed the Cougars around, leading to Sitake being frustrated with the lack of physicality in the postgame.

The loss gave BYU some perspective on how far they need to improve to be in the upper tier of their future home, the Big 12 Conference.

Baylor ended up being an elite team last year, winning the Big 12 Conference, a Sugar Bowl, and a No. 5 ranking.

BYU football hosting nationally-ranked Baylor in Provo

One year later, is BYU better equipped to face the challenges Baylor, a future Big 12 foe, poses?

Early indications from week one would suggest that BYU is in a better position to compete with the Bears. But we won’t know until Saturday night in a nationally-ranked Top 25 tilt in Provo (8:15 p.m., ESPN, KSL NewsRadio).

“We’re really excited about the opportunity to play against Baylor and we’re familiar with them. Really, really good team; obviously ranked. They are the standard for the Big 12, the conference champs, and we get to have them in Provo. I’m really excited for that game and to see how we match up from our game against them last year to now.”

Both teams come into the game 1-0 after blowout victories to open the season. BYU knocked off USF, 50-21, in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score would suggest.

Baylor throttled FCS Albany 69-10, with new starting quarterback Blake Shapen passing for 214 yards and completing 85% of his passes. Shapen beat out Gerry Bohanon, who transferred and started for the USF Bulls last Saturday against BYU.

Former BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes appears to be putting together another potent offense in Waco as the Bears were tabbed as the preseason favorite to win the Big 12 in 2022.

BYU/Baylor: Rivalry brewing?

With how BYU fared against Baylor last season and no rival Utah on the schedule until 2024, BYU/Baylor has the potential to become a rivalry. Both schools are faith-based, and the atmosphere in Waco for last year’s game was top-notch.

“When we played at Baylor last year, I thought it was a really cool experience,” said Sitake. “…I think the respect will always be there. There’s definitely going to be intense competition. But they’re a program that we want to be like.”

Without Utah on the schedule until 2024, it could be easy to look at Baylor as the potential big game on BYU’s schedule. Last year, the Utah game was one that players had quietly counted down for a chance to end the nine-game losing streak.

They succeeded by taking down a Utah team that won the Pac-12 last year.

There isn’t a long losing streak against Baylor heading into Saturday night. But it wouldn’t hurt BYU to get a win over the Big 12’s best one year before they enter the league.

“We circle every single game of the season. Everybody looks forward to every single game,” said BYU football defensive lineman Lorenzo Fauatea. “I guess you could say Baylor is a team that everybody looks forward to. Just from the game last year, playing against (Jeff) Grimes –respect to Coach Grimes and Coach (Eric) Mateos, some really good dudes right there–. So, I think it’s just a game that we all look forward to; top 25 team, they have a great program, so, nothing better that you can ask for on our Saturday.”

No. 25 BYU vs. No. 10 Baylor

Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium

Kickoff: 8:15 p.m. (MT)

TV: ESPN

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (Pregame starts at 6 p.m.)

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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