No. 9 Baylor braces for loud noise, late night at No. 21 BYU

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The marquee matchup featuring No. 9 Baylor and No. 21 BYU will be a loud one and a late one. Not to mention the last one as nonconference adversaries.

To prepare for BYU on Saturday night (kickoff: 10:15 p.m. EDT) and the thunderous clatter inside LaVell Edwards Stadium, the Bears have been blaring crowd noise at practice.

“They’re going to be juiced up,” Baylor wide receiver/kick returner Gavin Holmes said as the Bears make their first trek to Provo, Utah, since 1984. “But we can’t let the outside noise get into our circle. … It’s definitely going to be a big test for us.”

For the Cougars (1-0), this will be a final glimpse into the world of Big 12 football before joining the league next season. The Bears (1-0) are no ordinary team out of the Big 12 – they’re the defending champions. They’re a 12-win team from a year ago, which included a 38-24 win over BYU in Waco, Texas, and a victory in the Sugar Bowl.

This will be a good gauge to measure how they stack up. But the Cougars downplayed that sort of angle in a contest where they’re a 3 1/2-point favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

“All I have to say about that is that I’m just excited to play them,” BYU offensive lineman Blake Freeland said.

In the aftermath of Baylor’s win last season, one message resounded: The Cougars needed to get even stronger with a Big 12 schedule looming.

“I think we have done that,” defensive lineman Lorenzo Fauatea said. “On both sides of the ball, everybody looks better, feels better and is playing better.”

The last time Baylor’s football team played in Provo was 1984, when the LaVell Edwards-coached Cougars won 47-13 on their way to a 13-0 season and a national title. The Bears know full well what’s in store at the roaring stadium named after the legendary coach.

“It’s packed. It’s loud,” Baylor coach Dave Aranda said. “That’s a storm we have to run into, and we’ve been talking about and preparing for that.”

SHAPEN SHARP

Baylor sophomore quarterback Blake Shapen was sharp in a 69-10 win over the University at Albany, throwing for 214 yards and two scores while running for another TD. Shapen’s poise certainly caught the attention of BYU coach Kalani Sitake.

“He looks like a veteran back there even though he’s still young,” Sitake said. “Baylor is a tough team to deal with especially when you mix that with a quarterback that’s accurate and has great composure.”

HALL SHARP, TOO

BYU QB Jaren Hall threw for 261 yards and two scores in a 50-21 win at South Florida. His experience stood out to Aranda.

“He’s going to be one of the better quarterbacks we’ll play all year,” Aranda said. “The film’s impressive in terms of the decisions he makes, and the throws he doesn’t take. He doesn’t put the team at risk. He was good last year. He’s better now.”

FAMILIAR FACES

The Cougars know all about Baylor offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes, who held the same role with BYU from 2018 to 2020. He helped mentor BYU standout and New York Jets QB Zach Wilson. Wilson was in the running for the Heisman Trophy in 2020 as he threw for 3,692 yards and 33 TDs.

Bears offensive line coach Eric Mateos also makes his return to Provo. He was in the same position with the Cougars.

NUMBERS, PART I

Over the program’s history, the Cougars are 5-22-1 against top-10 teams. Their last win was 24-21 at sixth-ranked Wisconsin in 2018.

The Bears are 26-33-1 as a ranked team versus another ranked team.

NUMBERS, PART II

Aranda isn’t reading too much into Baylor’s 5-1 record against ranked teams from a season ago.

“We don’t really look at the opponent that way,” the third-year Baylor coach said. “We talked about narrowing the focus, upping the quality and increasing the speed. Those are the things that can travel and can play when it’s third down there and you can’t hear anything.”

Texas State hires Incarnate Word coach Kinne to lead Bobcats

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Texas State hired Incarnate Word coach G.J. Kinne on Friday to lead a Sun Belt program that has had only one winning season since moving up to the Bowl Subdivision in 2012.

The 34-year-old former Tulsa quarterback has made a fast rise in coaching since ending his professional career in 2017.

After three years as an offensive analyst at SMU, Arkansas and the Philadelphia Eagles, Kinne became offensive coordinator at Hawaii in 2020. He held the same role for UCF in 2021 before landing the head coaching job at FCS Incarnate Word this season.

Incarnate Word is 10-1 and averaging 53 points and 8.3 yards per play, both FCS highs, heading into its playoff game Saturday against Furman. Kinne will remain with Incarnate Word through their playoff run.

“It’s with great honor that I’m accepting the call to be next head football coach of the Texas State Bobcats,” Kinne said. “We are going to play fast, have relentless energy, and when the going gets tough, have the mental confidence to win tight games in the second half and represent the state of Texas. Eat ‘Em Up!”

Texas State fired Jake Spavital last week after the Bobcats won just 13 games in his four seasons.

Kinne signed a five-year contract, the school said. Terms were not immediately released.

“My goal was to hire someone with demonstrated leadership experience, success as a head coach, established relationships with Texas football coaches, and success with recruiting and developing players,” said Texas State President Kelly Damphousse. “I sought a leader with a plan to capitalize on our location in the heart of the best high school football in the country.”

Florida Atlantic hires Tom Herman as football coach

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BOCA RATON, Fla. – Former Texas and Houston head coach Tom Herman will take over at Florida Atlantic as it heads into its first season in the American Athletic Conference.

The hire comes just days after FAU fired Willie Taggart, who went 15-18 in his three seasons with the Owls. Details of the contract with Herman were not immediately available.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Tom Herman to Paradise,” FAU Director of Athletics Brian White said Thursday. “Throughout the process and the more we talked with Coach Herman, the more it became apparent to me that he was the right person to lead our football program. Beyond his knowledge of the game, which is obvious by his success over the years, he also truly cares about the young people in his program.”

FAU’s final season in Conference USA ended with a 5-7 record and an overtime loss to Western Kentucky. The Owls will be in the American next season.

Herman returns to college football after spending the 2021 season with the Chicago Bears as an offensive analyst.

Herman was 22-4 at Houston, a mark that helped him land the head coaching job at Texas where he went 32-18 with four straight bowl trips in 2017-2020. He also was an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ohio State during the Buckeyes’ 2014 national championship season, as well as stops at Iowa State, Rice and Texas State.

“All the pieces are in place at FAU for us to be successful,” Herman said. “There are already great young men on this team, great facilities, a great location, a great recruiting base and great leadership, all of which are important to building a successful program.”