Baylor’s transformation from a one-win team in Matt Rhule’s debut season in 2017 to an unbeaten squad that’s ranked No. 14 in the nation today might be the most remarkable story in college football.

But Rhule doesn’t want his players to start becoming too sure of themselves because they are 7-0 and tied with No. 5 Oklahoma for the Big 12 lead with a 4-0 record.

There is still a lot of season left beginning with a date against West Virginia at 7 p.m. Oct. 31 at McLane Stadium. November’s schedule will be imposing with games against TCU, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas to complete the regular season.

“I want them to block out the noise and have the same hunger and fire that they had when they were 0-7 two years ago,” said Rhule during Monday’s Big 12 coaches call. “I want them to know now they are no more special and better than they were then. You have to consistently be who you are.”

Since taking over as Baylor’s head coach in December 2016, Rhule has emphasized that his players work diligently toward completing their degrees, give back through community service, and play hard and tough while handling both winning and losing with class.

“When people meet a Baylor football player, I want them to meet a guy who has been pushed and developed and is doing things right on and off the field,” Rhule said.

But winning at this level is a whole new stratosphere for players who went 1-11 during Rhule’s debut season before squeezing out bowl eligibility last year in the final regular season game and beating Vanderbilt in the Texas Bowl to finish 7-6.

The Baylor coaches didn’t waste time preparing for West Virginia as soon as they got back from Stillwater following Saturday’s 45-27 win over Oklahoma State.

After last year’s 58-14 drubbing at the hands of the Mountaineers in Morgantown, Rhule doesn’t expect his players to have any difficulty focusing on the upcoming rematch even though it’s nine days away.

“West Virginia beat us so badly last year and it’s such a vivid memory, I know they’ll turn the page pretty quickly,” Rhule said.

The extra time will give some Baylor players like safety Grayland Arnold, Trestan Ebner and Denzel Mims more time to heal from various injuries. Arnold didn’t play against Oklahoma State, while Mims made a season-low one catch for 16 yards, and Ebner didn’t carry the ball or make a catch against the Cowboys.

Rhule and his staff will also evaluate whether some redshirt candidates will need to see more time. The NCAA allows players to play in up to four games without burning their redshirts.

“I think the bye week came at a great time,” Rhule said. “We’ll keep developing young players and try to get guys healthy. We were kind of beat up Saturday and a bunch of guys stepped up.”

One of those players who stepped up was sophomore Terrel Bernard, who moved from weakside to middle linebacker in place of senior Clay Johnston after he went down with a season-ending knee injury in the previous week’s 33-30 double-overtime win over Texas Tech at McLane Stadium.

Bernard earned Big 12 defensive player of the week as he collected a career-high nine tackles and made one of the decisive plays of the game when he picked up Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders’ fumble and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to give the Bears a 38-27 lead.

“I thought he did a great job going against a challenging offense,” Rhule said. “To hold them to 188 yards passing, I was pleased with a lot of guys’ effort.”

Despite getting sacked four times by Oklahoma State’s defense, Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer delivered a great performance as he hit 13 of 17 passes for 312 yards and a touchdown.

Brewer also ran for a two-yard go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter on which made a spinning dive over the goal line.

“Part of Charlie’s game is running, and that comes with inherent risks,” Rhule said. “We spend a lot of time teaching them that they have to slide and run out of bounds. We try to get them to sprint out of bounds and don’t get hit. We don’t want guys taking unnecessary hits at the quarterback position.”


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