Changing of the Guard

Baylor is starting to emerge as a powerhouse in the Big 12, which was not true just a few years ago.

The year was 1995. Texas Tech was a running team. Baylor was a winning team. It was the last year of the Southwest Conference, and it was the last time the Bears beat the Red Raiders.

That story is long forgotten. Baylor has since had five head coaches and Tech has had four. The Big 12 joined the Big 10 as the only two conferences who can't count, and TCU had to play in four conferences before they were allowed to hang out with the popular Texas schools again.

It is now 2011. Baylor is on the brink of their second consecutive winning season, and Texas Tech is on the verge of failing to be bowl eligible for the first time since 1992.

Times have changed.

The Red Raiders built a strong reputation of quarterbacks who led the Big 12 in passing every year. But right now, it is Baylor's quarterback who is sweeping the nation with his quick feet and efficient passing and making his case for the Heisman trophy.

Robert Griffin III is second in the Big 12 in passing touchdowns with 33 and third in total yards per game.

Tech quarterback Seth Doege who is fourth in the league in total offense said his defense is going to meet the challenge of stopping Griffin head on and try to force some turnovers from the Junior signal caller.

"I think they welcome the challenge. I don't think they're scared at all," he said. "I think they know, and I think they respect him. Because of what he's done, you need to respect him."

 

It was just a couple of years ago that Baylor was having to answer that question at every press conference about how they were going to stop Tech's new quarterback behind the Air Raid run by Mike Leach.

 

But Leach is gone and change is afoot.  The Red Raiders have come full circle from the years of the Southwest Conference. Tech wants their strength to be their defense just like it was under Spike Dykes and led by perennial Pro Bowler Zach Thomas.

 

Tech's defense has gone through whole sale changes over the last two years, moving from the 3-4 defense of James Willis last year to the 4-2-5 defense of Chad Glasgow this year, both of which are leaps and bounds away from Mike Leach's strategy to just score more points than the other team.

 

The Red Raider defense has struggled, but they have shown signs of life at several points this year including holding the then number three ranked Oklahoma Sooners to seven first half points.

 

Then last week, Tech held the number 12 offense in the nation in the Missouri Tigers to 10 first half points which is what Head Coach Tommy Tuberville wants to see out of his defense.

 

However, in each of those games, the Red Raiders faltered in the second half as they gave up 31 second half points to the Sooners in the win, and gave up 21 points to the Tigers including 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter on the way to Missouri's 31-27 victory.

 

"It's tough when you go on the road and play a team that's supposedly much better than you are," Tuberville said, "and you win most of the battles and don't have that win, especially the way this month's going."

 

It has been a tough month for Tech. They have lost four in a row and it may be the first time in over a decade that the Red Raiders may lose to Baylor.

 

Baylor is on their way up. Their offense is clicking on all cylinders, they just took down a top 10 team in Oklahoma, and Robert Griffin is showing no signs of slowing down.

 

Texas Tech also beat OU though and they have not won a game since. The same fate may await the Bears, but no one will know if they can take the win seriously until Saturday.

 

"They've got a lot to prove. It's been a while since they've had success against a lot of teams in this league," Tuberville said.

 

This is the third year in which Tech and Baylor have faced off in Dallas and there is a rivalry brewing. Baylor may have the advantage this year, but Tech has history on their side.

 

The game will be heated whether it is competitive or not and Tommy Tuberville is ready to go.

 

"It should be a very good game, a good challenge finishing up on this thanksgiving weekend. We've got a lot to be thankful for," he said. "We wish we could have won a lot more games and played a lot better. But those things didn't happen and so we're looking forward to an excellent week of preparation starting tomorrow."


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