No. 20 Baylor, ULM set for rematch of wild game
Baylor and Louisiana-Monroe both know how to get the ball up and down the field. They've done it in different ways.
While 20th-ranked Baylor had a break after its first-team offense scored 14 touchdowns in less than 25 minutes combined the first two games, Louisiana-Monroe last week ran a school-record 104 plays and held the ball 39 minutes to win on the road against Wake Forest of the ACC.
The Bears (2-0) are the nation's highest-scoring FBS or FCS team, with 69 and 70 points so far. They are averaging 737 total yards per game.
''I really have got strong feelings in relation to the job (coach) Art Briles has done at Baylor. Their schemes are outside the box also in terms of what they do and so they're difficult to prepare for,'' ULM coach Todd Berry said. ''I think you're always more appreciative of those coaches that tend to not just try to hurt you with their players but hurt you with the scheme that they run.''
Louisiana-Monroe (2-1) plays Saturday at Baylor in the rematch of a game that was a wild 47-42 victory for the Bears last year. In their first-ever meeting, the two teams combined for 1,109 yards and 63 first downs - both had at least 85 plays and 549 yards.
''We were forcing it to get out of there with a hard-fought, five-point victory,'' Briles said. ''We have a lot of respect for them as an opponent because we know how they handled the game last year, and how they're going to come into it this year.''
In the same way Berry touts Briles, the ULM coach admits that the Warhawks look for ''some differential advantage'' and consequently ''tend to be a little bit outside the box'' as well.
Fourth-year ULM quarterback Kolton Browning has a victory against the SEC (Arkansas) and the ACC. This is his last chance for one against the Big 12 - the Warhawks opened this season with a 34-0 loss at Oklahoma.
Here are five things to watch when Baylor plays Louisiana-Monroe:
1. THE VETERAN QB vs. THE NEWCOMER: Browning will play his 40th game for ULM, while Bryce Petty makes his third career start after waiting his turn behind Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III and record-setting Nick Florence. Browning is already ULM's career leader with 66 touchdowns passing and needs only 299 yards to become the leader in that category.
2. BALANCED BAYLOR: The Bears are the only team in the country to rank in the top 10 in both passing (431.5 yards per game) and rushing (305 yards per game). They have run 99 times and thrown 53 passes this season. After ranking second in total offense each of the past two years, Baylor is currently first with 65 yards more per game than Oregon.
3. THIRD TO FIRST: ULM faced 28 third downs in its win at Wake Forest, and converted 15 of those - the most ever against the Demon Deacons. The Warhawks had three TD drives in that game, all of them were at least 12 plays and took at least 4 minutes.
4. OPEN ENDED: Baylor is coming off an open date, and the Bears will immediately follow with another open date before starting Big 12 play. ''It is what it is. It's what we got,'' Briles said. ''It just depends on how you use it. We feel like we use it the best we can to keep our players at the point mentally and physically that we want them at this stage of the season. We'll get out there Saturday and hopefully not need a boost to get going. You like to get in a flow and get going and we'd like to start where we finished the last game.''
5. BEARDED PROPS: With ULM coming to town, Baylor is also preparing for a visit from some of the guys from the popular A&E show ''Duck Dynasty.'' The CEO of the West Monroe-based Duck Commander is ULM alumnus Willie Robertson. Baylor this week tweeted a pictured it dubbed ''BearDynasty'' featuring Briles, Griffin, Florence and Petty all sporting the trademark ''Duck Dynasty'' beards. The grey beards went to Briles and Petty, the current Bears quarterback.