Baylor: The Matchups

Five matchups to watch when Baylor makes the short jaunt down I-35 to take on Texas.

1) Texas linebackers Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson vs. Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III

The problem with facing a quarterback like Griffin is that a defense can do everything right, lock down receivers in the passing game and generate a pass rush, only to have the lightning-quick Griffin slice through the defense in a moment of individual running brilliance. That's why Acho and Robinson have such a tricky job. They can't come screaming up to deal with Griffin on most plays, because Griffin could just dump it over their heads. At the same time, they have to be quick to respond to a potential Griffin rushing threat, all while being a factor in the designed run game. Both were fighting injuries last week, with Robinson playing despite not really practicing and Acho sitting out the game. This week, Acho is expected to play.

2) Defensive tackles Kheeston Randall and Alex Okafor vs. the Baylor interior line

Because of Griffin's running and passing ability, the defensive line must play well against designed run plays. That means Randall and Okafor will have to play gap-sound defense while being disruptive and eliminating places for Jay Finley to run. The Longhorns should also be able to bend the edge in the pass rush game, meaning Randall and Okafor, and at times Sam Acho, will have to create push up the middle to eliminate places for Griffin to step up and take away potential scrambling lanes.

3) D.J. Monroe vs. the Baylor linebackers

In a game where the Bears might score in the 20s or 30s, it's important for all hands to be on deck for the Texas offense. That means 5-10 touches for Monroe, one of the few Texas playmakers capable of changing field position in a hiccup. Monroe is averaging 11.7 yards per carry and can take any carry to the house with his elite speed. The Baylor linebackers are active and run well, but they don't run as well as Monroe, so reaction will be key. As has been shown in the past, if the linebackers can make a couple nice plays, it can discourage the Longhorns from using Monroe as the game goes on.

4) The Texas receivers vs. the Baylor defensive backs

It isn't any secret that part of quarterback Garrett Gilbert's struggles have come from a receiving corps that has labored to separate from defensive backs. But the Longhorns seem to have discovered a few receivers in Mike Davis, John Chiles and DeSean Hales capable of generating that separation, which could create openings for guys like Malcolm Williams, Marquise Goodwin and James Kirkendoll. The Baylor defensive backs haven't been great this year, so this is an area that Texas could exploit if the receivers play well.

5) Texas defensive backs vs. Baylor receivers Josh Gordon and Kendall Wright

Texas shut down the last pure spread passing attack it faced in Texas Tech, though it's worth saying that Baylor's receivers might even be better. Aaron Williams is having a strong year, but he can only cover one receiver at a time. Kendall Wright is arguably the Big 12's best slot receiver not named Ryan Broyles, while Josh Gordon is the Bears' big play guy. How Texas handles the Baylor athletic receivers could wind up deciding this game.

X-Factor: Red Zone Defense

The Bears have a bend-but-don't-break defense, one that allows teams to move the ball around the middle of the field but causes problems in the short field. On the other side, the Bears have the offense to move it on the Longhorns as well. But both defenses have the speed to make life difficult in the red zone, where execution will be key. Of course, with the Longhorns this season, Turnovers are another big factor.

As Mack Brown has said, this team is on and off, and this feels like an on week for the Longhorns. They have plenty of motivation for this one, facing a ranked team, an old Southwest Conference foe and the need to atone for last week's embarrassing loss to Iowa State. The Longhorns have the edge here, but don't be surprised if it goes the other way.

Texas 31

Baylor 21

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