Texas Tech Closes Out Season Against Baylor

Texas Tech takes on Baylor 2:30 p.m. Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. The Red Raiders (4-7, 2-6 in Big 12) hold a 36-35-1 all-time advantage over the Bears (9-1, 6-1).

Points Per Game50No. 1
Rushing Yards Per Game229.5No. 22
Passing Yards Per Game345No. 4
Penalty Yards Per Game89.4No. 128
Turnover Margin+.9No. 13
Points Per Game Allowed21.7No. 26
Rushing Yards Allowed Per Attempt2.91No. 5
Yards Allowed Per Game329.7No. 18

With the Baylor football program riding high and gunning for a playoff appearance, while the Texas Tech program is at a nadir not experienced since the mid-80s, there appears little hope that the Red Raiders can spring the upset on the Bears in Big D. And statistical evidence only reinforces that bleak outlook.

Put simply, Baylor’s offense is the nation’s best. The Bears are tops in scoring, tops in total offense, and No. 4 in passing yardage. Compounding the difficulty of defending Baylor is the fact that they run the ball effectively, too.

As of this writing, it is unclear which Tech defensive backs will be available for action in the game. Odds are, however, that the secondary on the field for Tech will be exceedingly young and hobbled by injury.

But none of that matters to Baylor for the simple reason that its offense is dramatically superior to Tech’s defense. The Bears need not out-scheme the Red Raiders, but simply execute their base package to be highly effective.

It will be up to Mike Smith and his fellow defensive coaches to create strategy and tactics to slow down Baylor. Smith blitzed Iowa State a great deal, but given Bryce Petty’s efficiency, and the speed of Baylor’s receivers, look for him to be much more conservative in this one. The Red Raiders will probably play a good deal of cover two, and hope that the front seven can keep the Bear running attack somewhat in check. The odds are not good, but are better than gambling that Tech’s defensive backs can lock up Baylor’s receivers.

Offensively, Tech’s task is not quite as daunting, but is still considerable. To have any shot at victory, the Red Raiders will need to score at least 40 points, and Baylor has allowed only TCU and West Virginia to breach the 40-point threshold this year.

The only real certainty in this game is that the Red Raiders will pass the football on virtually every down. Despite being No. 25 nationally in rushing yards per carry, Tech is extremely loath to run the football, and the fact that Baylor is No. 5 in rushing yards allowed per carry will more than deter Kliff Kingsbury from calling Deandre Washington’s number, except as a receiver.

That means it will be up to freshman quarterback Pat Mahomes and a sketchy receiving corps to have an absolutely monster day. Additionally, it means dropped passes are unacceptable and downfield blocking must be better than it has been at any point in the season.

Devin Lauderdale has emerged as Tech’s best receiver and deep threat, while Ian Sadler is slowly growing into the role of possession receiver and stick-mover. Sadlerdale must continue that emergence, and veterans Bradley Marquez and Jakeem Grant will have to play like they did last year, rather than like they have this season.

Mahomes is capable of passing the ball effectively enough for Tech to compete in this game, but whether or not his receivers can make plays for him is the issue. If the Red Raider defense can somehow get off the field several times—and turnovers would help dramatically—and if the receivers actually show up, this game could still be in the balance in the fourth quarter. If not, it will be over by halftime.

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