Week 6 Big 12: Baylor at Texas Preview

Baylor (4-0) at Texas (2-2) Oct. 4, 3:30, ABC 

Here’s The Deal: It’s still somewhat mystifying how much things have changed. Baylor has won three of the last four games in the 102 year rivalry, but before that it had been 12 years – 1997 – since the Bears had pulled off a win. Since 1903 this has been an all-Texas matchup, but now Baylor is the powerhouse and Texas is the also-ran looking for a little respect. Charlie Strong might be instilling the discipline, but his team has been shaky in the rebuilding and reloading process. The BYU loss was ugly, and the UCLA defeat was a fight, but with a 23-0 win over Kansas, the Longhorns not only ended the Charlie Weis era, but it showed it could play just a little bit. And now comes the opposite end of the offensive spectrum. 

With Oklahoma up next, if Texas could somehow win over the next two weeks, all of a sudden the Big 12 big boys are mostly out of the way and the Strong era would start out with a much different direction than it’s heading in right now. Baylor has a way of making teams look that way. 

Once again, Baylor is making a 49-point day seem like a mega-disappointment, but it hasn’t been close to being touched so far. Of course, playing a slew of cream-puffs and starting out the Big 12 season against Iowa State helped, but the Bears have been flawless so far. This is No. 3 in a three-game road trip, and the third in a five-game stretch with a home showdown against TCU up next. However, even with the recent success, Baylor can’t take a road trip to Austin for granted. Ever. 

Why Baylor Might Win: Texas still has a scoring problem. The depleted offensive line isn’t generating any sort of a push for the ground game, and it doesn’t help that no one respects QB Tyrone Swoopes as a downfield passer. Don’t even bother applying for an application to beat Baylor if you don’t have the ability to put up at least 40 points, and Texas hasn’t been able to do that yet this year. Baylor might not have played anyone with a pulse, but the offense is fully loaded, getting healthier, and has the passing game to open it up on a Texas secondary that – considering it was Jerry Neuheisel who pulled off the win for UCLA – has yet to be truly tested. The Bruins and BYU were able to throw well when they had to. The Longhorn pass rush isn’t good enough to screw up Bryce Petty, and Baylor has yet to give up a sack. 

Why Texas Might Win: Baylor, welcome to a good friend of ours – a real team. Texas is hardly special, and the defense isn’t up to snuff yet, and the offense has been sputtering when it’s at its best, but there are athletes, and there’s enough talent to at least provide a bit of a fight. Texas isn’t Buffalo and it’s not SMU – the D has the ability to come up with just enough big moments to test Petty and the attack for the first time all year. So far, Baylor’s O has been taking target practice, but now it’ll have to work against a desperate team looking for a signature moment at home. 

Who To Watch Out For: And here’s the scary part – Petty is getting his weapons back. Last year’s leading receiver, Antwan Goodley, got back into the swing of things last week against Iowa State, coming back from a leg injury to catch six passes for 119 yards. Also back is Levi Norwood, who missed the first part of the year with a wrist injury after making 47 grabs for 733 yards and eight scores. Meanwhile, KD Cannon has been phenomenal so far with a team-high 23 catches for 519 yards and five scores, and there are more talented targets waiting to do more. 

What’s Going To Happen: Too much firepower, too much offense, too much everything. Forgetting the offense for a moment, the Baylor defense has been a rock against the run and should keep the Texas offense from controlling the game. It won’t take much for the Bears to put the game away. 

Prediction: Baylor 38 … Texas 17
Line: Baylor -15.5 o/u: 57 
Must Watch Factor: 5: Gone Girl – 1: Mulaney … 3