|Receiver Terrance Williams was part of a strong performance from the Baylor offense on Sunday against SMU. (US Presswire)|
Media members who voted in the Big 12 preseason poll picked Baylor to finish seventh in the conference this season. If Sunday's season opener against SMU is any indication, the Bears may have been a bit underrated.
In its first game in the post-Robert Griffin III/Terrance Ganaway era, BU rolled to a 59-24 win over the Mustangs in Waco, Texas. The game was nowhere near as close as the score indicates. QB Nick Florence headed to the bench for the fourth quarter with a 45-10 lead. The senior still had 341 yards and four touchdowns.
It's apparent Florence has a favorite target already, as receiver Terrance Williams finished with 138 yards on seven catches. But four Baylor players caught touchdown passes, and five finished with more than 40 yards receiving. RB Jarred Salubi added another 91 yards and a score -- and only needed 13 carries to do so. All told, coach Art Briles' offense had 613 yards.
The good news wasn't confined to the offense. Of SMU's 24 points, 14 came in the fourth quarter when the outcome had long been decided. The Bears forced three turnovers, ending multiple promising drives for the Mustangs.
It could be argued that Baylor was the most impressive team in the Big 12 this weekend, given its question marks and the caliber of opposition. Sure, West Virginia and Oklahoma State rolled up big offensive totals as well, but the Mountaineers were expected to do so and the Cowboys faced hopelessly overmatched Savannah State.
Many were wondering what the Bears would look like without RG3, last year's Heisman Trophy winner, and Ganaway, the team's star running back in 2011. And SMU may be a better team than the score indicated Sunday. It knocked off a ranked TCU team in Fort Worth last season but looked hopelessly overmatched in Waco on Sunday.
Baylor's performance was another sign of how deep the Big 12 may be this season. With the win, the conference wrapped up a 9-0 opening week. It's hard to imagine the team predicted to finish seventh in many other conferences looking so impressive in the opener against a respectable foe.
With games against Sam Houston State and Louisiana-Monroe up next, it's hard to imagine a scenario where the Bears won't be 3-0 when they head to Morgantown to face WVU on Sept. 29. Given the quality of Baylor's play Sunday, that game may be a bit more interesting than many would have expected heading into the season.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from Big 12 bloggers C.J. Moore and Patrick Southern, follow @CBSSportsBig12 on Twitter.