No room for error in Baylor's playoff bid

Shawn Oakman could have a big year for Baylor's defense. Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports

As we count down 50 days until the start of the 2014 college football season, ESPN Insider Travis Haney is answering at least one big question a day until South Carolina and Texas A&M’s kickoff on Aug. 28.

Heisman contenders, breakout freshmen, conference winners -- it will all be covered as part of Insider’s Ultimate Season Preview.

Today’s question: Is Baylor ready to take another step toward national relevance by reaching the playoff?

The Big 12 is so wide-open, more than any other college football power conference, that Baylor absolutely has a chance to be in the initial final four. But the Bears had better win every game if they want to get there because of their philosophy of soft nonconference scheduling. Just look at last season. The school’s head-turning 9-0 start -- one that featured a record-breaking offense and an improving D -- would have had the Bears in the heart of the playoff conversation if it had started a year earlier.

“I don’t think there was a better team in the country,” coach Art Briles said last week, referring to his team's first three-quarters of the season.