Baylor vs. Texas Game Prep

At 4-0, the Bears continue their long road trip, this time facing I-35 rival Texas. The Longhorns are 2-2 on the year, and looking to beat the Big 12 Champs.

It is Texas week, as the Bears finish up their 4-week exodus away from McLane stadium with their 3rd true road game of the season down I-35 in Austin, TX to take on the Texas Longhorns. Under the guidance of 1st year coach Charlie Strong, the Longhorns are 2-2 on the year and are coming off of a slightly underwhelming victory on the road

MEDIA INFORMATION
Matchup 7/6 BAYLOR (4-0) vs. NR/NR Texas (2-2)
Date Sat., Oct. 4 | 2:30 p.m. CT
Location Austin, Texas | DKR-Memorial Stadium (100,119)
TV ABC
Radio ESPN Central Texas | Sirius 117 | XM 202
Online Audio Listen Online
Live Stats Gametracker
Gameday Info Gameday Central
Ticket Info Tickets
Game Notes Baylor Notes |Texas Notes
Twitter @BUFootball

Fun Stats of the Game

-Baylor leads the FBS in scoring offense (56.8 ppg) and total offense (641.0 ypg), while the defense is 8th nationally in scoring (13.8 ppg.) and 6th in total (250.5 ypg).

-The Bears have scored more points in the 1st quarter (87) than Texas has in all of their games (85).

-Baylor has won three of the last four games between these two teams, but Texas won the last game in Austin, a 56-50 shootout in 2012.

-Texas wide receiver John Harris has caught 1 touchdown in each of the Longhorns first four games

- Baylor has won 8 of its last 10 games played outside of Waco

-Texas has 9 interceptions so far in 2014, after having just 10 in all of 2013. They rank 1st national in interceptions per game (2.25) with Duke Thomas, Jordan Hicks, Quandre Diggs each with 2 interceptions

- Baylor has out-scored opponents 227-55 through 4 games, and the Bears have allowed only 7 touchdowns.

Key Matchups

-Texas Pass Rush versus Baylor Offensive Line

The Bears have been incredible at pass blocking in 2014, with zero sacks and barely any hits or hurries on whoever was taking the snaps for them. The front for Texas though will be significantly better than anything they have seen, outside of their own practice field. Malcolm Brown might be the defensive player of the year for the Big 12, as he has been absolutely dominant from his defensive tackle position. He will be the first lineman that demands a double team from the Bears all year. Brown is not all they have though, as Cedric Reed is one of the best defensive ends in the Big 12. He will be matched up with Spencer Drango primarily, so that will be an incredible battle to watch between two All-American caliber players.

Part of the Bears protection plan of course will be building up a solid running game to keep the Longhorns off balance. Getting into 2nd and 3rd and long and putting themselves in obvious passing situations will allow the Longhorns to fully rush the passer and forget about the running game. Success on 1st down is the best way to slow down a good pass rush.

-Texas Receivers versus Baylor Defensive Backs

This is far from an explosive offensive attack. The Longhorns have simply stopped pushing the ball down the field, primarily due to the lack of pass protection and a lack of weapons on the outside. The Baylor defensive backs will need to cover one-on-one quite a bit, as is the standard under defensive coordinator Phil Bennett. At times against Iowa State, the Bears struggled on the outside and along the sideline. While the Texas receivers do not have the size and strength that the Cyclones possessed, they are much more experienced. The Bears will be blitzing a young quarterback with an unproven line, so the corners and safeties will need to be on their toes.

Analytical Breakdown

FEI Rank

16

55

F/+ Rank

9

54

S&P+ Rank

6

50

GE Rank

2

56

Sagarin

8

25

Massey

7

33

RealTime RPI

8

45

Team Rankings Rank

5

34

Average

7.63

44.00

There are two big jumps this week in the analytical breakdown. The first one comes courtesy of the Bears, who rose significantly in pretty much every poll, up from an average of 10 up to 7.63. The Bears rose by 12 spots according to Sagarin and TeamRankings. The other big jump is courtesy of Texas, who will easily be the highest ranked team the Bears have seen. Iowa State averaged a 71.37 ranking, while Texas is 27 spots higher in the mid-40s. The Longhorns will have the best individual unit of any offense or defense that the Baylor Bears have seen so far, thanks to a very strong defense.

Keys to the Game

1. Survive the First Punch

Texas might not be a wounded animal in the corner of the room, but they are battered quite a bit. Full desperation might be in store for later in the season, but there will be some desperation in the Longhorns performance. They are 2-2, and even accounting for the injuries and suspensions have underperformed this year. Every team has a first punch, especially a desperate underdog. The bears will have to take that shot, and then hit back. Will it be a gadget play, an early fake kick or punt, or even just a flash of very good football to start the game? Whatever it is, the Bears have to take that punch and then take the crowd out of the game.

2. Win the Run-Game Battle

The Longhorns feature two of the best running backs in the Big 12. Jonathan Grey and Malcolm Brown are two top-tier prospects that have had good careers in Austin, even on some worse than expected teams. The Longhorns are averaging just 120.5 rushing yards per game, and 3.42 yards per carry. Against Kansas, they had just 3.08 yards per rush. Those are bad numbers for any rushing attack, especially an offense designed to run the ball well with two very good backs.

Texas has also struggled to stop rushing attacks as well, allowing 4.35 yards per rush in their two losses to BYU and UCLA. The Cougars and Bruins ran all over Texas, with both teams combining for 465 yards rushing and the Cougars running for 5 touchdowns. The Bears rushing attack appears to be hitting its stride, with a big game against Iowa State (244 yards, 5.19 ypa, 6 touchdowns). Baylor will need to run on a defense that is very strong against the pass, and wear down a defense that will have to carry their offense to victory.

3. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers

I truly believe that the only way for Texas to win on Saturday afternoon is if the Bears play bad, and help the Texas offense. Baylor has to take care of the ball and not give the Longhorns any free points. Against Kansas, Texas had three touchdown drives; 18 yards, 13 yards, and 27 yards. Those weren’t the scoring plays, those were the total drives. Even their made field goal came on a four yard drive. That is 62 total yards on their four scoring drives, or pretty much an average touchdown drive distance in a normal circumstance.

The Longhorn’s offense has not been able to drive the ball consistently, partly due to the lack of explosive down-field plays and their struggling rushing attack. If the Bears give Texas a short field, they might be giving Texas it’s only shot of scoring points.

Predictions

Massey Ratings – Bears win 34-27

RealTime RPI – Bears win 44-29

TeamRankings.com – Bears win 36-21

Staff Predictions COMING SOON!


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