1. It is here. No more excuses or reason to look ahead. The time is now for the Baylor Bears and the TCU Horned Frogs to meet on the gridiron once again. We all remember last year, and especially the insanity that insued after that magical October day. The screams of "61-58" echoed long after the final whistle, to the annoyance of many (including some Baylor fans).
When the schedule was announced for the 2015 football season, this was circled by many as the defacto Big 12 championship game. The two top teams in the Big 12, meeting on the field in late November. Alas, some schools in Oklahoma decided to wreck the party and change the scene slightly. The true Big 12 championship is going to be up the road in Stillwater, OK, where the Sooners have a chance to win it all. A loss by the Sooners would open the door for Baylor, as well as Oklahoma State.
One school that will not be winning the Big 12 is TCU. Their two losses this year (both on the road to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State) have made sure of that.
2. Both Baylor and TCU will enter this game battered and bruised. The Bears will probably be down to their 3rd quarterback in sophomore Chris Johnson, while TCU has a glimmer of hope for star Trevone Boykin to be able to play. The injuries are not limited to quarterback though, as TCU has just been destoryed by injuries across the field. Three of their top wide receivers have sustained season ending injuries, including All-American Josh Doctson. Their defense migth have been hit even harder though, as numerous starters have either left the team or been injured throughout the year. It has caused a sharp decline in the Frogs defensive standards.
Baylor is not without injury as well, as Shock Linwood was limited to end the Oklahoma State game. Defensive starters Beau Blackshear and Orion Stewart missed the game last week, with backups Byron Bonds and Terrell Burt also limited. Jarrett Stidham was injured late in the first half, well injured more at least. With a hurt back from OU, a bruised hand, and a severly hurt ankle ,Stidham could barely walk at all after the game. His availibility this Friday is highly questionable at the moment.
Even with all of the injuries though, there is plenty of talent on both squads to make this one heck of a game. There is little to no love-lost between these two teams, coaches, or fanbases. Both teams have had this game circled on the calendar, and rightfully so. Anyone saying otherwise is just lying.
3. When the Bears play with a sense of urgency, and with aggression, they are a very good team. The work that the offensive and defensive lines did against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State could not have been any more different. The talent levels are similar between the Cowboys and Sooners on the defensive line, but the Sooners do have the better offensive line. Still though, Baylor was beaten badly up front on both sides of the ball against Oklahoma, and then they came back and just manhandled the Cowboys up front.
Why the difference? I think it comes down to mindset. Baylor came out the aggresor from the very first offensive snap (a deep ball to Corey Coleman). They came our fast, and wanting to throw the first punch. The Sooners beat them up, legal and illegal. They took their shots. That isn't a complaint, or bellyaching that they cheated. It isn't. It is just a fact. The Bears were hit in the mouth and beaten last week. This weekend, they played a fast and aggressive game that led bo a big 24 point lead on the road in a place that they hadn't won it in a very long lifetime.
Can the Bears keep that mindset for TCU? I don't think the coaching staff will have to work hard to motivate the Bears for their data with TCU. The motivation is there, even without the opponent. A 3rd consecutive 10-win season (with a shot at three 11 win seasons in a row), at least a New Years Day Bowl, and a possible Big 12 championship. Throw the Horned Frogs on top of that, and the coaching staff will probably have to settle the team down a bit for this one.
4. With the win against Oklahoma State, the Bears are at least back in the peripheray of the CFP Championship talk. They need help, but winning out is still their best option. Baylor beats TCU and Texas these next two weeks, they will continue to rise. To get to the Top-4, they need some help, mainly in the form of Oklahoma State beating Oklahoma, and Stanford beating Notre Dame. There are 10-teams with still a solid shot at getting into the Final-Four.
Clemson and Alabama are both in great position, assuming they keep winning. Alabama would need to beat Florida in the SEC championship game, and locking up the 1-spot for the SEC. If Iowa takes care of business against Nebraska, and Michigan State beats Penn State, both teams will advance to the Big 10 championship game needing a win to advance, but one will make it in. That leaves one more spot, between Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Baylor, Stanford, and Michigan.
Notre Dame and Stanford still play, but if Notre Dame wins that, you have to assume they would be right there in the Top-4. Oklahoma has a trip to OSU, and will have to win it (and probably look VERY good doing it) to try and leap over Notre Dame. Baylor needs the Sooners to lose, and probably Notre Dame to lose as well to jump both of them.
At 2-losses, Stanford and Michigan will need complete chaos in front of them. That being said, the Bears simply need to win these next 2 games, and have home teams beat higher ranked visitors with Stanford and Oklahoma State beating Notre Dame and Oklahoma. If Baylor can get those two breaks (and thus get the Big 12 champion credit), they could be that 4th team.
5. Ranking the Big 12:
- Oklahoma State
- West Virginia
- Texas Tech
- Kansas State
- Iowa State