Baylor's D may finally be title-caliber

Art Briles and the Bears have been far more than just an offensive powerhouse in 2013. Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports

Every single week, without fail, when Art Briles meets with his Baylor football team, he tells the Bears that they’re in the “proving business.”

That’s been the consistent message at the smallish private Baptist college in the heart of Texas ever since Briles arrived in 2008. The spotlight has historically shined on Austin and College Station, and at times on Fort Worth. But Waco? That requires proving, to Briles.

The offense -- well, you know that tale by now. It has become quite successful using Briles’ business model. The trend continued even after the departure of the school’s first Heisman winner, Robert Griffin III.

Its most recent version of silly math -- piling up 872 yards and 73 points against conference foe West Virginia, with the starters (again) sitting during the third quarter -- has the nation abuzz.

But the Baylor defense is still on the ground floor of the proving business. The team has done what it's done despite the defense, really. Discussion of the Bears' championship potential has typically been tempered by questions of "but can the defense get enough stops?"

But the early signs are that things could be different this season. A defense that is built to succeed in 2013 may finally be good enough to keep the Bears in Big 12 and maybe even national title contention.