PROVO, Utah – The home opener of the 2022 BYU football season will be a taste of BYU’s future in the Big 12 Conference. In week two, BYU meets the defending champion of the Big 12 Baylor Bears.
Last season, BYU lost 38-24 to Baylor in Waco. So when BYU hosts Baylor at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday, September 10, it will be an opportunity to exact revenge on a future Big 12 opponent.
There’s no shortage of storylines in this matchup. Baylor still has former BYU OC Jeff Grimes leading the Bears offense along with Eric Mateos coaching the offensive line. But many of the faces leading the Bears are different from the team that clinched the program’s top 12 wins a season ago.
Here are three things you should know about BYU football opponents, the Baylor Bears.
The Defense of the Big 12 Champions
Baylor head coach Dave Aranda is a star coach in college football. His name has been fairly closely tied to the USC coaching search, but he appears to have a long-term commitment to the Bears. He signed a contract extension that keeps him at Baylor through the 2029 season.
With Aranda at the helm, Baylor has the pieces to repeat itself again as Big 12 champions in 2022. Last season, they won the Big 12 crown and the Sugar Bowl.
You will have new faces on your depth map. For example, Baylor ranks 122nd nationally in ESPN’s recurring production metrics. But remember, BYU was dead a year ago and the Cougars put on a 10-3 season with a perfect record against Pac-12 teams.
Baylor doesn’t seem to be slowing down under Aranda as they have one of the worst defenses in college football. Additionally, Grimes won’t shy away from his success as a wide-zone team in the “RVO” (Reliable, Violent Offense) that BYU fans know very well.
Watch out for linebacker Dillon Doyle (pictured); He also appears as a defense attorney for Grimey’s offense. BYU saw that firsthand in Waco last year when he scored two touchdowns in the Baylor win.
Baylor held a quarterback contest during spring training. Following the spring season, Aranda and Grimes walked away from last year’s starter Gerry Bohanon in favor of last year’s backup Blake Shapen.
Aranda informed Bohanon before the May 1 transfer portal deadline and gave him a chance to find a new school and play this season. Bohanon is now on September 3 with USF, BYU’s season-opening opponent.
Shapen appeared in five games last season, including the Big 12 championship game against Oklahoma State. In that win over the Pokes for the title, Shapen made his first 17 passing attempts, completing 23 of 28 for 180 yards and three touchdown passes.
Shapen could be one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12 this fall by the end of the season.
Star power in the trenches
Baylor’s strength in 2022 lies on offense and defense. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that Aranda and Grimes have worked extensively with groups in the trenches over the years.
On the defensive line, former East High star Siaki “Apu” Ika heads into his junior season with the Bears. A former national champion at LSU in 2019, Ika was an instant star inside Baylor’s defensive line, producing 24 tackles, six for losses and 3.5 sacks in 2021.
Four players with starting experience are returning along the offensive line, led by left tackle Connor Galvin, who was a first-team All-Big 12 last season.
Date: Saturday 10 September 2022
Kick-off: 8:15 p.m. (MT)
Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM)
Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium
2022 Baylor Bears football schedule
3 Sept – UAlbany
September 10th – at BYU
September 17 – State of Texas
September 24 – in the state of Iowa
October 1 – State of Oklahoma
October 13 – in West Virginia
Oct. 22 – Kansas
Oct 29 – at Texas Tech
5 Nov – in Oklahoma
November 12 – State of Kansas
Nov. 19 – TCU
November 26th – in Texas
Get to know the 2022 BYU football opponents
Mitch Harper is a BYU insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE TO) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday 12pm-3pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.