Baylor Bears season preview

Previewing the 2014 season for the Baylor Bears:

Key returners: QB Bryce Petty, WR Antwan Goodley, LB Bryce Hager, DE Shawn Oakman.

Key losses: RB Lache Seastrunk, OG Cyril Richardson, S Ahmad Dixon, LB Eddie Lackey, WR Tevin Reese.

Most important 2014 games: Oct. 4 at Texas; Nov. 8 at Oklahoma; Dec. 6 Kansas State.

Projected win percentage: 80.1 percent.

Over/under Vegas odds: 9½ wins.

Instant impact newcomers: CB Chris Sanders, LB Grant Campbell. Baylor sought immediate help to replace some big-time talent on defense and found Sanders and Campbell in the junior college ranks. Both cracked the two-deep this spring and could see the field plenty. Sanders was limited with an injury during spring practices but will compete for a starting job, and Campbell is the top backup to Hager at middle linebacker.

High point from 2013: Defeating Texas 30-10 to clinch a Big 12 championship. In the final home game at Floyd Casey Stadium, Petty & Co. pulled away in the second half to give Baylor its first outright conference title since 1980, an 11-win season, a trip to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and its third win in the past four years over the Longhorns.

Low point from 2013: Losing to Oklahoma State 49-17. The Bears were 9-0, had climbed to No. 4 in BCS standings and had their sights sets on a national title run. They went to up to Stillwater and got dismantled, giving up nearly 600 total yards against a potent Pokes team. Baylor's first loss put OSU in the driver's seat to win the Big 12.

Best-case scenario for 2014: Petty and his impressive array of skill-position weapons power an offense that puts up ever better numbers than last year's unit, allowing Baylor to breeze through its first eight games before the big showdown against OU. The defense steps up big to shut down the Sooners and Baylor rides the momentum of that "W" to 12-0. If this team is still hot on both sides of the ball entering the College Football Playoff, everyone else might be playing for second place.

Worst-case scenario for 2014: The offense is as dangerous as expected, but Baylor learns the hard way that its defense has too many holes and too much inexperience to match the production of last year's senior-loaded unit. The Bears engage in too many shootouts and can't hang on in the big one at Oklahoma. An 8-0 start ends with Baylor losing three of its last four. It's still a nine-win team and a dang good one, but not the Big 12 champions.

They said it: "We have to learn how to prepare as the hunted as opposed to the hunter. We've always been the hunter. And I don't want to lose that edge and that attitude, and that's something that we're working hard to maintain." -- Baylor coach Art Briles.