The Skinny: Baylor v. TCU

As the Baylor Bears continue to prepare to take on the #4 TCU Horned Frogs, we take a look at the skinny details of the game Saturday.

Here is a look at how The Sports Xchange breaks down Baylor v. TCU.

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30
GAMEDATE: 9/18/10
SITE: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas
SURFACE: Grass
TV: Versus
SERIES: Tied leads 49-49-7 (last meeting, 2007, TCU, 27-0)
RECORDS: Baylor 2-0, TCU 2-0
POLLS: TCU (4 AP, 5 USA Today)
PREDICTION: TCU 31-10

KEYS TO THE GAME:

-- The Horned Frogs need to follow the same plan that has worked so well for them so far this season. TCU's dominant ground game should try to set the tone against a Baylor team that hasn't allowed a touchdown but hasn't faced anything like the Horned Frogs, either. Containing Robert Griffin and keeping the Bears from gaining early confidence will be crucial in extending the Horned Frogs' recent mastery in the series between two old rivals.

-- If Baylor has any upset hopes, a big game from Robert Griffin will be vital. His offensive line will have to stand up to TCU's pass rush as well as enable the Bears to run the ball enough so the Horned Frogs don't key on the passing game. Baylor's defense must continue its strong early-season efforts despite stepping up in class -- and then some -- against the Horned Frogs. Baylor will be tested to keep TCU quarterback Andy Dalton confined in the pocket. It will be vital for them to win the line of scrimmage, keeping TCU's ground game from dictating field position.

SCOUTING THE TEAMS:

TCU coach Gary Patterson apologized to Tennessee Tech coach Watson Brown for scoring too much after the Horned Frogs' 62-7 victory was punctuated by three late touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The Horned Frogs offense is humming along with productive performances by quarterback Andy Dalton and a deep stable of running backs that have helped the Horned Frogs rank 10th nationally in rushing. TCU has been able to pass the ball when needed, as Dalton steered away from turnovers against Tennessee Tech. This group has continued playing with the same gusto as last year and will pose a huge challenge for a retooled Baylor defense that hasn't allowed a touchdown this season.

TCU defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas has his group playing with confidence after two impressive victories to start the season. The unit barely broke a sweat against Tennessee Tech, but will be immensely challenged to contain supremely athletic Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin and his group of underrated skill-position players.

Griffin appears to be recovered, putting together two strong efforts after missing most of last season following knee surgery. Griffin makes the Baylor offense go and is coming off a career-best 297-yard passing effort against Buffalo. It appears that Baylor is scheming to keep him into the pocket more this season, although he will still scramble and improvise when forced. The offense is boosted when Jay Finley is involved and running strong. The offensive line has held up protecting Griffin, but will face an immense challenge from TCU's speedy defensive front, one of the nation's best.

On defense, the Bears have started the season without allowing a touchdown in either of its first two games for the first time since 1960. But there are still some sizable questions about the unit, considering they haven't played an opponent nearly as talented as TCU. The Bears' retooled front seven features six new starters along with NT Phil Taylor. They will be challenged by a bruising TCU ground attack that features several productive running threats. The Bears also will need to pressure TCU QB Andy Dalton and keep him from being able to make positive yardage out of busted plays.

FAST FACTS:

Horned Frogs: This is a grudge battle for many TCU fans and alumni after the Horned Frogs were snubbed by the Big 12 in favor of Baylor when the conference was formed in the mid-1990s. TCU has won 16 of its last 17 games (only loss to Boise State in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl) and is 28-3 in their last 31 games. Eight of TCU's last nine victories have been by at least 27 points ... TCU and coach Gary Patterson are 14-3 in their last 17 games against teams from conferences with automatic BCS bids ... The Horned Frogs are 5-2 against teams from the Big 12 ... TCU has beaten at least one team from a BCS-affiliated conference every year since 2002 -- longest streak for a school from a non-AQ conference ... TCU has won 15 straight games at home and is 57-6 at home since 1999 ... TCU has a two-game winning streak over Baylor and will be looking for its first three-game winning streak since winning eight straight games over the Bears from 1964-71 ... TCU QB Andy Dalton made the first start of his career orchestrating the Horned Frogs' victory over Baylor in 2007 ... The Horned Frogs rank among the top 10 nationally in total defense (eighth), sacks and rushing offense (10th) and tackles for losses (tied for 10th). DE Wayne Daniels is tied for fifth nationally in tackles for losses and tied for seventh in sacks.

Bears: Baylor has started 2-0 for the first time since 2005. Baylor, along with Alabama and Arizona are the only teams in the nation to have not allowed a touchdown so far this season. The Bears are 12-85-2 all-time against opponents ranked in the top 10 and 2-47 vs. ranked teams in the Big 12 era. Baylor has lost 21 games in a row against ranked opponents since their last victory over a ranked foe -- a 35-34 overtime victory over No. 16 Texas A&M on Oct. 30, 2004 ... Baylor's last win over an opponent ranked in the top five was in 1985, a 20-13 road win at No. 3 USC ... Baylor has outscored its opponents by a combined score of 48-3 in the first half this season... After two games, Baylor's opposition is completing only 41.7 percent of their passes against the Bears ...Fourteen Baylor players caught passes in the first two games of the season ... Baylor QB Robert Griffin has accounted for seven of the Bears' eight touchdowns this season (four passing, three rushing) ... Baylor ranks third among FBS teams in points allowed (4.5 points per game). The Bears ranked 72nd in the category last season (27.3 points per game). Baylor also ranks sixth nationally fifth nationally in tackles for losses, sixth in pass efficiency defense and 10th in sacks allowed. Griffin ranks 13th in total offense (312.5 yards per game). K Aaron Jones is tied for 10th in field goals (2.0 per game) and Derek Epperson is 18th in punting (44.36 yards per kick) after averaging 48.6 yards per kick on seven punts last week against Baylor.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Horned Frogs:

-- QB Andy Dalton -- He started his career as a starter by beating Baylor as a redshirt freshman in 2007. He'll be able to continue his mastery by utilizing the Horned Frogs' strong running game and occasional passes against a Baylor defense that has improved markedly since then.

-- WR Josh Boyce -- The freshman receiver produced a 24-yard TD grab to punctuate the Horned Frogs' first scoring drive against Tennessee Tech before finishing with three grabs for a team-high 70 yards against the Golden Eagles.

-- S Alex Ibiloye -- He was a disruptive force against Tennessee Tech earning Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week honors with three forced fumbles. It was more than any Horned Frog accounted for during the entire 2009 season.

Bears:

-- QB Robert Griffin -- He's spending more time in the pocket, and the results showed with a career-best passing effort against Buffalo last week. Baylor's upset hopes will depend on doing a better job converting third-down plays that have been so troublesome so far this season.

-- DT Phil Taylor -- Baylor's massive run-stuffer will need a big game against TCU's consistently strong rushing attack. Taylor and his mates have looked strong so far, but have faced nothing like the Horned Frogs' run attack.

-- DT Tracy Robertson -- The converted defensive end has dominated against weaker opponents in the first two games. He needs another big game against the Horned Frogs, keeping Andy Dalton from getting comfortable in the pocket.

INJURY WATCH:

Horned Frogs:

T Marcus Cannon (ankle, probable), WR Antoine Hicks (undisclosed injury, probable), SS Tyler Luttrell (strained hamstring, out).

Bears:

S Byron Landor (hand, questionable).


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