The slow and painful trudge to the end of the 2016 football season is one step closer for the Baylor football program. That is the good news. The bad news is the step was another loss, a 54-35 defeat to a 5-7 Texas Tech team that came in losers of 6 of their last 7 games. A program that came into the game ranking 128th out of 128 schools in defense. A team that lost 66-10 just one week earlier to Iowa State.
Texas Tech came into the game with a simple plan, show up. That has been something this Baylor team has struggled to do since their first loss of the season against the Texas Longhorns. With a 53-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Zach Smith to KD Cannon, the Bears appeared to show some signs of life. Unfortunately, it was the same fake pulse Baylor fans saw against TCU, as the Red Raiders scored the next 34 points to race out to a 34-7 lead.
The formerly dangerous and potent Baylor offensive attack went 6 straight offensive series without a point scored while Tech ran out to their big lead. It was a full gamut of mistakes and issues for the Bears including a fumble, a missed field goal and two turnovers on downs. The Bears turned the ball over 4 times officially, but it is even worse if you count the additional four failed 4th downs, with three of those in the first half.
While the Baylor attack failed to live up to its reputation, the Red Raiders and quarterback Patrick Mahomes had no such issues. After the Bears opening possession drive, the Red Raiders would score on plays of 35, 40, 5, 80, 81 and 62 yards in the first half, with three of those scores being 1-play drives. It was an embarrassing effort by the Baylor defense, with missed assignments, bad tackles and maybe even some lazy play.
Even with the maligned Red Raider rushing attack doing almost nothing (80 yards, 2.5 ypc), Mahomes had more than enough in his arm to lead the way. He had 401 yards passing at halftime as Tech raced out to a 41-21 lead. Strangely, it was Baylor who led 42-21 going into halftime of last years contest, a game that mirrored this one very well in terms of where the Baylor program is right now.
Freshman quarterback Zach Smith, in his second career start, had a solid game throwing for 377 yards and 3 touchdowns before a late desperation interception marred his box score. With Smith playing well, it was up to his skill players to make plays. They did, but sometimes to their own downfall. Blake Lynch fumbled the ball lined up at QB, while Ishmael Zamora fumbled the ball while going for extra yardage. Even Terence Williams fumbled the ball near the goal line with his standard 2nd and 3rd effort.
Simply put, the Bears made critical mistakes on offense, something that they have done all year. The complete collapse of the defense though has made this team's struggles even more definable, as outside of senior cornerback Ryan Reid, there isn't a single defensive back playing well right now. Even two-time All-Big 12 safety Orion Stewart was badly beaten on two touchdowns. The Bears are a defense, and a team, that has fallen apart.
Terence Williams led the Bears rushing attack with 147 yards and two touchdowns, while Ishmael Zamora (12 catches for 155 yards and 1 TD) and KD Cannon (12 catches 132 yards and 2 TDs) both had big games for the Bears.
With little in terms of leadership from the coaching staff to pull them out of their funk, the walk to the end of the season has just one more stop at West Virginia. From there, whether the Bears will go to a bowl game will be up for debate, though I am sure most involved are just ready to mark off 2016 and look forward.