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Baylor coach Art Briles high title hopes

WACO, Texas — The tougher tests await down the road for No. 3 Baylor, but coach Art Briles has seen enough of his Bears to know this is his best team.

"I've told the players that my only anxiousness comes from making sure we fulfill what we're capable of," Briles told ESPN.com on Thursday. "You don't get many chances to bowl a 300 game. I don't want to bowl a 294 and almost be there. I want to be there. That's my anxiety because we're good.

"It's the best team we've had in my eight years here, and I don't think it's even close."

The Bears (4-0) have scored at least 55 points in each of their first four games and are heavily favored Saturday at winless Kansas. They mauled Texas Tech 63-35 last weekend and lead all FBS schools in one-minute touchdown drives (11) and two-minute touchdown drives (23).

But one of the differences with this team, according to Briles, is that it has the kind of firepower on defense to play with anybody. Baylor has allowed more than 30 points in two of its first four games, but has forced 10 turnovers and racked up 34 tackles for loss in those four games.

"Defensively, it's the best we've been," Briles said. "Talent-wise, I don't even think it's close. We've finally got guys on that side of the ball who are dynamic. We've got some playmakers over there."

And offensively, he said quarterback Seth Russell's mobility has added a different dimension to the Bears' spread, up-tempo attack. Russell has thrown 19 touchdown passes, but he's also rushed for three touchdowns and has 172 rushing yards, which includes an average of 7.8 yards per carry.

"We can certainly spread it around, and having a mobile quarterback gives us other options," Briles said. "It's a whole different deal with a guy at quarterback who can move the way he can. That's what I think is going to help take us to the next level offensively. I really do."

Baylor, which has won or shared the last two Big 12 championships, missed out on the College Football Playoff last year. Briles said it's way too early to start handicapping the playoff race and said his team isn't about to get ahead of itself, especially with a schedule that is back-loaded. The Bears' last four games are against No. 10 Oklahoma, No. 21 Oklahoma State, No. 2 TCU and Texas.

"It's early, and a lot can still happen," Briles said. "Our guys know that. We all know that. But if you're rolling them out there and saying what six teams are in the hunt, you're going to flip over a domino, and it's going to have Baylor on it."

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