Bears vs Jayhawks: Three stories to follow

By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor, Video by Tim Longoria | Broadcast Reporter

Third time’s the charm, right?

For the third time this month, Baylor football stands on the eve of its first football game. The Bears will face Kansas at home for the season and conference opener.

Here are three storylines to follow going into this week’s matchup.

First Game Jitters? No way!

While the Bears have yet to hit the field, Kansas has gotten the first-game jitters out of the way after a 38-23 loss to Coastal Carolina on Sept. 12. However, Baylor isn’t nervous for the challenge that the Jayhawks’ running game and physical offense could pose.

The Bears have not dropped a contest to Kansas in the last 10 seasons and hold an 8-0 record at home. Baylor dominated the Jayhawks in a 61-6 victory at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kan.

“We respect Kansas, they have some good players on their team, but I expect nothing less than last year,” junior wide receiver Tyquan Thornton said.

A Smarter QB

It was the fall of 2017 and the Bears were on an eight game losing streak. Then a freshman, Charlie Brewer was making his first start at quarterback. Baylor would go on to record its only win of Matt Rhule’s first year as head coach. Brewer led the Bears to a 38-9 victory, going 23-for-29 with 315 passing yards and three touchdowns.

Now kicking off his senior year, Brewer said he looks back at that game as a turning point.

“Back to that freshman year, I remember that was a big win to get us on track. It’s always something I’ll remember,” Brewer said. “Fast forward to this year, they’re a physical defense that flies around and plays with a lot of effort. It will be a tall task … We’ll have to be firing on all cylinders to match their intensity.”

Working under a new head coach and offensive coordinator, Brewer and the Bears will be looking to build off a successful 11-3 season that saw them reach the Big 12 Championship and the Sugar Bowl. Thornton said he’s seen a smarter quarterback in Brewer this year.

“In this new offense that we’re in, I see someone that’s taking good care of the ball,” Thornton said. “Yes, his arm has gotten stronger, I can agree with that. With him learning the game and being a vet now, just knowing what to do with the ball and his arm being stronger, I see Charlie having a great season this year.”

A Reunion with the Mad Hatter

Baylor head coach Dave Aranda will be reuniting with his former boss, Kansas head coach Les Miles when the Jayhawks come to town this weekend. Miles named Aranda as the defensive coordinator at LSU in 2016. During Monday’s press conference, Aranda said that Miles is one of his “all-time favorite people.”

Miles served as the head coach at LSU from 2005 to 2016, where he led the Tigers to bowl games in each of his full 11 seasons, winning seven, racked up 42 wins over ranked opponents, with 16 of those against Top-10 teams. During his time in Baton Rouge, LSU competed in three SEC title games, winning two, and was national champion in 2007. Miles has the second-most wins of any head coach in LSU history with 112, 63 in conference.

After stepping away from coaching for three years, Miles returned to football at the helm of the Kansas program in 2019. The Jayhawks finished the Mad Hatter’s first year in the Big 12 with a 3-9 record.

Baylor hosts Kansas at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at McLane Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.