SMU at No. 10 Baylor
KICKOFF: Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET
SITE: McLane Stadium, Waco, Texas
TV: Fox Sports 1
SERIES: The Baylor-SMU series is tied at 36-36-7 and 18-18-3 in Waco. The Bears won last year's meeting 59-24 also in Waco. Baylor and SMU were members of the Southwest Conference together from 1918-1996.
KEYS TO THE GAME
The most popular photos and videos in Waco these days -- outside of those from the Ice Bucket Challenge -- are the ones taken inside Baylor's new McLane Family Stadium.
And much like a person dousing themselves with ice-cold water, the Baylor football team isn't exactly certainly how it will react to the rush. But the Bears have a pretty good guess.
Coach Art Briles has compiled the kind of talent entering his seventh season at Baylor that will pair nicely with the fancy new on-campus stadium.
"We've got guys that when you put them on the field, and there's some energy, they can be a different step, different level," Briles said. "I've been around it a long time and I know how fast looks when it's excited."
At around 45,000 seats, Baylor's new stadium is quaint compared to some of the mammoth venues across the college football landscape. But the Bears are hoping it's not the size of the crowd in the fight but the size of the fight in the crowd.
"It's our job to make that the most exciting stadium in the United States of America on game day," Briles said. "Our guys got to feed off of it."
The first opponent to test that theory will be SMU, which finished 5-7 last season. The Mustangs don't figure to be much of a match as the Bears have been tabbed a four-touchdown-plus favorite.
The biggest story of SMU's offseason is its quarterback position -- who will become the leader, sophomore Neal Burcham or former Texas A&M transfer Matt Davis -- and just how effective will they be with the run-and-shoot offense.
SMU coach June Jones, in his seventh season with the Mustangs, has decided on the arm of Burcham to lead the team in the opener.
Burcham, who started two games last year in place of the injured Garrett Gilbert, has the experience to be a factor for SMU, at least early in the season. Burcham went through spring practice as the No.1 quarterback and continued that role in fall camp.
"He has been waiting his turn to get in there," Jones said. "I have been impressed watching him the last couple of years. He's prepared himself, he's worked hard. It's just getting familiar with the offense and knowing where to go with the ball quickly and knowing your reads."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
-- TE Jeremiah Gaines continues to develop his impressive raw talent. The 6--3, 235-pounder was used sparingly as a true freshman last season but is slated to take over for Keenan Holman on the outside.
-- WE Darius Joseph record 103 receptions last year and ranks fourth nationally among returnees this season.
--LB Cameron Nwosu transfers from Rice after starting 25 games with the Owlse before redshirting last year while rehabilitating a knee injury. He has a clean bill of health now and could make a difference if he still has the explosiveness he demonstrated when he blocked three PAT attempts by UCLA in 2012.
-- LB Stephon Sanders started all 12 games for the Mustangs and recorded 13.5 tackles for loss, including 3.5 sacks. He had 86 total tackles.