Baylor (2-0) at ULM (1-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, September 21, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Malone Stadium (30,427) -- Monroe, Louisiana. Television: ESPN, ESPN2. Home Record: Baylor 2-0, ULM 0-0. Away Record: Baylor 0-0, ULM 0-1. Neutral Record: Baylor 0-0, ULM 1-0. Conference Record: Baylor 0-0, ULM 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The ULM Warhawks try to continue their run of impressive performances in difficult non-conference games when they take on the Baylor Bears at home on Friday night.
Baylor has started the season 2-0 after a pair of convincing wins over Lone Star State rivals SMU and Sam Houston State. With the two wins, the Bears have now won eight games in a row dating back to last season, which is the second longest winning-streak in the country, placing only behind TCU's 10 straight. It is also the third-longest win streak in school history.
The Warhawks' season got off to a fantastic start, beating a ranked team for the time ever when they won in overtime at No. 9 Arkansas, 34-31. ULM proved that their effort was no fluke in the next game, battling back from 21 points down in the second half to force overtime on the road against Auburn, but ultimately lost, 31-28.
This bout marks the first meeting between Baylor and ULM on the football field.
Baylor lost its Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Robert Griffin III in the offseason, but so far this year, the offense has not missed him very much. The unit has scored 107 points in two games, gaining more than 575 yards per contest.
Nick Florence had some big shoes to fill under center, but he has done a nice job in the early going, completing 63.4 percent of his passes (45-of-71) for 653 yards with seven touchdowns. He is also second on the team in rushing with 104 yards.
Jarred Salubi has led an effective rushing attack that has averaged more than six yards per carry with 174 yards and a score.
Terrance Williams has been a big-play receiver for Florence, amassing 269 yards on just 13 catches, hauling in a pair of touchdown catches along the way. Tevin Reese (seven catches, 159 yards, TD) can also get open deep.
Baylor's defense hasn't been as sharp as the offense. Although the unit has played well enough to win, it certainly wants to lower the 459 total yards allowed per game.
Linebacker Bryce Hager has made plays all over the field, recording a team- best 24 tackles, three of which have been for negative yardage.
The Bears have made an impact in the turnover battle with five interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
Against two teams from the SEC, widely regarded as the toughest conference in the nation, the ULM offense has looked spectacular, putting up 31 points per game and 480 yards per game.
The catalyst for the Warhawks has been their leader under center, Kolton Browning. He has been impressive in leading his team to comebacks in both games, and he has the numbers to show for it, completing nearly 62 percent of his passes for 649 yards, with six touchdowns and only one interception. Browning's legs have also been busy as he leads the team in rushing (127) and rushing touchdowns (two) as well.
Brent Leonard paces the squad with 18 catches and 165 yards, but Browning does a good job spreading his passes out to many receivers. Tavarese Maye, Je'Ron Hamm and Colby Harper each have at least 10 catches and 100 receiving yards.
Jyruss Edwards is the primary ground gainer, tallying 112 yards and score on 32 carries. Other than Browning, no other Warhawk has more than seven attempts.
The ULM defense has held its own against fast and powerful offenses, holding its opponents to fewer than 400 total yards per game.
The unit has forced four turnovers, including three interceptions. Mitch Lane (14 tackles, INT) and Cameron Blakes (12 tackles, sack) have been the most active members of the defense.
This matchup certainly holds more appeal now than it did even just a few weeks ago. ULM has proven that it is a resilient team that needs to be taken seriously, and with Friday night being its first home game, the crowd in Monroe is sure to come out in full force to lend its support. It should be a high-scoring, back-and-forth game with the winner probably being the team that has the ball last. Figure it to be Browning and the Warhawks to keep their impressive start going.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: ULM 35, Baylor 34
09/19 10:40:59 ET