Red Raider Offense vs. Bear Defense
Last Saturday was arguably the worst possible day for the Red Raiders in recent memory. The Texas Longhorns flat out beat Texas Tech, handing them their first loss in a 52-17 rout. The Longhorns looked deserving of their subsequently acquired #1 ranking, and Tech's fans and players were left in shock. The strange thing is, Tech led in nearly every statistical category. The difference was that the Longhorns kept putting points on the board while Tech kept putting punts in the air. However, there is sunshine within the clouds for the Red Raiders. Saturday's loss was to a talented Longhorn team that is likely to end up in the national championship game, and there is still some hope that the Red Raiders can win out and end up BCS-bound. After being violently brought down to earth, Texas Tech will be looking for some revenge this weekend against the Baylor Bears.
It used to be that the Baylor Bears were chalked up as an automatic W on the schedules of Big 12 opponents, but things are beginning to change. Baylor is two overtime losses to Oklahoma and Texas A&M away from having an identical record to the Red Raiders at (3-1) 6-1. Guy Morriss has done an excellent job improving the Bears year after year, and if the trend continues, Baylor could quickly become a team that Big 12 opponents are afraid to play. There is already a bit of a rivalry going on between the Aggies and Bears after two consecutive years of overtime games. The Red Raiders have managed to dominate Baylor the past few years, but this is not the Baylor of years past.
After Texas Tech's struggles to score points against Texas, some questioned if the Red Raider offense had lost its dominance. However, it appears at this point to be somewhat of an anomaly considering Tech is still averaging nearly 50 points a game. The Longhorns managed to keep the Red Raider offense out of the end zone on all but two occasions, but it appears unlikely that the Bears will have similar success. That's not to say that the Baylor defense isn't good, they're just not quite the Longhorns. The Bear D is talented and fast and has given up an average of only 19.4 points per game this year, but they face their toughest test this week against the potent Red Raider offense.
If the Red Raiders are as angry as I am about the blowout loss to Texas, the offense may take out some frustrations on the Bears and punish their defense. However, if Texas Tech has a "woe is me" attitude and just goes through the motions, Baylor will send them packing with another loss. Also, if the Baylor fans can get behind their team and remind the Red Raiders that they're playing an away game, this could be closer than many expect. The Bears have the talent to surprise teams, so Texas Tech better not take this one lightly. We'll find out this weekend if the Red Raiders can shake off their first loss or if Baylor can get one step closer to proving that they have finally made it.
Red Raider Defense vs. Bear Offense
The Texas Tech defense is coming off one of their worst performances of the year against Texas last week. The secondary made Texas' mediocre receivers look like stars, and the Longhorns probably could have put anybody in the backfield and run all over Tech's defense. Obviously, Texas' offense is extremely talented, but they shouldn't have been able to impose their will upon the Red Raiders supposedly improved defense. The Tech defense managed to force two turnovers, but they need to figure out how to force punts if the Red Raiders are going to have success against Baylor and the other teams left on the schedule.
The Baylor Bears are led by quarterback Shawn Bell, who appears to be coming into his own as of late. He has a weapon in receiver Dominique Zeigler, who might be one of the most underrated wideouts in college football. Seriously, anyone who has watched Baylor games recently knows that this kid can flat out play. Tech's Khalid Naziruddin is going to have his hands full with Zeigler. Also, the Red Raider defensive line and linebackers are going to have to step it up in defending the run. Texas Tech fans are growing weary of seeing their safeties make the tackles on runs up the middle.
Even though Texas Tech has won the last nine games against Baylor, this year's game is far from an automatic win. The Red Raiders have struggled so far on the road, and the Bears have no reason not to play lights out in hopes of going bowling. This could very well be Tech's most difficult Saturday left on the schedule, and it might be closer than many Red Raiders would like. Baylor is for real, college football nation. We find out on Saturday if Texas Tech realizes that or if the Bears' Cinderella story comes to an end.