1. This was suppose to be the year for Texas Tech. With Pat Mahomes under center, and a 2nd year under defensive coordinator David Gibbs, the Red Raiders were going to take the next step. Well, they did, but it was a step down a broken stair, falling and breaking things along the way to the bottom. Miraculously, the Tech defense has somehow gotten worse under Gibbs, something most people did not expect was possible. A stunningly incompetent 66-10 loss to Iowa State is the bottom point for Coach Kliff Kingsbury. Coach "Bro" now even has people questioning his job status, with many calling for the Kingsbury era to be over.
With the loss, Texas Tech fell to 4-7 on the year, and lost any hope of a bowl bid, something they will have done in just 2 of Kingsbury's four years in Lubbock, with a pair of 4-win campaigns to go with it. That is, if the Red Raiders slide continues against the Bears.
2. Texas Tech and Baylor both come into this game losing a combined 7-straight games. Both of the losing streaks, with Baylor losing to Texas, TCU, Oklahoma and Kansas State. The Red Raiders losses are to Texas, Oklahoma State and Iowa State. Until this past weekend, Tech's losses were at least close, with 5 of their previous 6-losses being by a combined 35 points. Losses to West Virginia (48-17) and Iowa State (66-10) have done them no favors. Tech's lone win since October began is a still very strange 27-24 overtime victory over TCU on the road.
Baylor's four losses have been close, as well as blowouts. A single point loss to Texas started the skid, but a 40-point loss to TCU was their low point. Add in 21 points to Oklahoma and Kansas State, and these are two teams that are not playing their best football late in the year. Both teams came into the season hoping a powerful and explosive offense could cover up a rebuilding, or just plain bad defense. These past few weeks for the Red Raiders and Bears have proved that to be impossible.
Tech's defense is ranked 126th in the nation, out of 128, according to S&P+. The Bears are 48th, but that includes the tremendous start to the year (and their 6-0 record) that saw them rise up into the teens in defensive performance. Their last three weeks have seen the Bears defense torn apart by running attacks, with 149 points allowed. Over this four game losing streak, Baylor has allowed 1178 yards, or 295 yards per game, along with 18 touchdowns and over 5.58 yards per carry.
3. Luckily for the Baylor defense, the Red Raiders have one of the worst rushing attacks in the nation. Tech averages just 3.26 yards per carry, and have run for 1163 yards over their first 11 games, or 15 fewer than what the Bears defense has allowed over its past 4 games. The achiles heel for the Bears is a running attack, and Tech simply does not have one. They are 123rd in the nation in rushing yards per game, 116th in attempts per game, and 121st in yards per attempt.
This is an anemic rushing attack that has fallen off a cliff with the departure of DeAndre Washington to the NFL. In 2015, the Red Raiders averaged over 5.36 yards per carry, the 14th best rate in the nation and were 40th in the nation in yards per game. This was a rushing attack that was a counter and a surprise hit for the Red Raiders. This year though, it is almost a waste of time.
4. Throughout the six losses in 7 games, Patrick Mahomes has continued to be sensational. His 734 yard passing performance against Oklahoma is etched in the record books. He was tremendous that day, and has been tremendous for most of the season. Injuries have beaten him up a bit, but he is not he reason why Tech is losing. With a bad rushing attack and defense, this is probably a bowl eligible team. Too bad Mahomes has been saddles with an awful version of both.
He is the Red Raiders, and as a junior, has a very difficult decision to make. Does he return for his senior year, and another run at turning the Tech program around, or does he bolt to the NFL (or even baseball) and start his professional career. The firing of Kingsbury would most assuredly make the decision an easy one, but as a college football fan, Mahomes is someone I will be sad to see leave. He is simply a joy to watch, and it is a shame that joy has been wasted for Red Raider fans.
5. At the end of the day, these are two teams that are falling apart. These are two programs that might have new head coaches on the sidelines for this game next year. That is shocking to say about Coach Bro, the prodigal son returning to his college home to resurrect a program that lost its way after firing his own coach. The Bears problems have been spoken about ad nauseam. This is a season, that has drained every bit of energy that the players, coaches and even fans can muster. This is an exhausted team, playing out the string and waiting with baited breath for good news of new coach. For Tech, those questions are just starting to rise up outside of the always unhappy sectors of any fanbase. Those screams could get louder with an ugly loss to Baylor, but probably won't die all the way down unless a new coach arrives or Kliff actually becomes "the guy". Friday afternoon, with both fan bases probably ready to end 2016 like a fried turkey, these two teams will get together to play out the string.