Call Your Shot: Texas Longhorns vs. No. 8 Baylor Bears Game Predictions

It's Friday, which means it's time to call your shot! Texas takes on No. 8 Baylor Saturday in front of its home crowd. Can the Longhorns pull off the upset over the Bears? HornsDigest.com weighs in.

CHIP BROWN

I know it's easy to look at Baylor's schedule and say the Bears haven't beaten anybody despite their 6-0 record. And that may be true, especially considering BU's only two road games this season were at Rice (1-6) and Iowa State (1-6).
But what those first six games allowed BU to do is gain confidence on defense, giving up just 17 points per game (No. 1 in Big 12) while picking off a league-best 8 passes.
Safety Orion Stewart has a Big 12-leading 4 INTs, including one returned for a TD. Senior CB Ryan Reid has 2 INTs, including one returned for a TD.
Baylor senior NB Patrick Levels has a Big 12-leading 3 forced fumbles and a Big 12-leading 3 recovered fumbles.
The Texas offense hasn't gotten into a rhythm in the first half since the Oklahoma State game on Oct. 1 - almost a month ago.
Against OSU, Texas scored four first-half TDs. Since then, Texas has scored two TDs and two FGs in the first half of its last three games (vs OU, Iowa State, K-State) combined. 
The Horns' offense has only scored 3 points off of eight turnovers forced in the past three games.
And that's just talking about the Texas offense vs the Baylor defense.
Despite an O-line with four new starters and almost no depth, the Bears' offense is No. 1 in rushing in the Big 12, averaging 282.8 yards per game on the ground with a league-best 5.7 yards per carry - led by RB Shock Linwood (6.5 ypc).
BU QB Seth Russell has 16 TD passes and 4 INTs while completing 57 percent of his passes. And Russell is a running threat - averaging 5.8 ypc with 5 TDs on the ground.
For Texas, there will be some lineup changes:
Look for Jake McMillon to start at LG instead of Patrick Vahe with Zach Shackelford back at center.
On defense, don't be surprised to see LBs Ed Freeman and Tim Cole, who have been productive playing together lately, to start in place of Malik Jefferson and Anthony Wheeler. And you could see Kris Boyd and John Bonney at corner again to start the game Saturday.
I feel like Texas is either going to come out with a great team effort that gets the victory over Baylor. Or Texas gets blown out. 
The Horns are playing at home, where the defense played well for four quarters against Iowa State. Texas has played well defensively against Baylor each of the past two years. 
(BU didn't score an offensive point until midway through the 3Q of a 28-7 Baylor win in 2014, and UT held the Bears to 17 points in a 23-17 Texas win last year in Waco - with BU down to its 5th-string QB.)
Charlie Strong and this coaching staff have no margin for error, and I think the players will fight for them.
Through no sound logic at all, and against my better judgment and defying the trends, I'll go with an emotion-driven Texas win ...
TEXAS 40 ... BAYLOR 37
******
TAYLOR ESTES
I can see Saturday's game going in one of two directions.
Scenario 1: Texas comes out flat on offense, giving the Bears a chance to strike early and often, leading to a Baylor blowout in front of a home crowd and causing even more cries for change at the top of the food chain.
Normal.dotm 0 0 1 608 3471 ESPN Radio 28 6 4262 12.0 0 false 18 pt 18 pt 0 0 false false false

CHIP BROWN

I know it's easy to look at Baylor's schedule and say the Bears haven't beaten anybody despite their 6-0 record. And that may be true, especially considering BU's only two road games this season were at Rice (1-6) and Iowa State (1-6).

But what those first six games allowed BU to do is gain confidence on defense, giving up just 17 points per game (No. 1 in Big 12) while picking off a league-best 8 passes.

Safety Orion Stewart has a Big 12-leading 4 INTs, including one returned for a TD. Senior CB Ryan Reid has 2 INTs, including one returned for a TD.

Baylor senior NB Patrick Levels has a Big 12-leading 3 forced fumbles and a Big 12-leading 3 recovered fumbles.

The Texas offense hasn't gotten into a rhythm in the first half since the Oklahoma State game on Oct. 1 - almost a month ago.

Against OSU, Texas scored four first-half TDs. Since then, Texas has scored two TDs and two FGs in the first half of its last three games (vs OU, Iowa State, K-State) combined. 

The Horns' offense has only scored 3 points off of eight turnovers forced in the past three games.

And that's just talking about the Texas offense vs the Baylor defense.

Despite an O-line with four new starters and almost no depth, the Bears' offense is No. 1 in rushing in the Big 12, averaging 282.8 yards per game on the ground with a league-best 5.7 yards per carry - led by RB Shock Linwood (6.5 ypc).

BU QB Seth Russell has 16 TD passes and 4 INTs while completing 57 percent of his passes. And Russell is a running threat - averaging 5.8 ypc with 5 TDs on the ground.

For Texas, there will be some lineup changes:

Look for Jake McMillon to start at LG instead of Patrick Vahe with Zach Shackelford back at center.

On defense, don't be surprised to see LBs Ed Freeman and Tim Cole, who have been productive playing together lately, to start in place of Malik Jefferson and Anthony Wheeler. And you could see Kris Boyd and John Bonney at corner again to start the game Saturday.

I feel like Texas is either going to come out with a great team effort that gets the victory over Baylor. Or Texas gets blown out. 

The Horns are playing at home, where the defense played well for four quarters against Iowa State. Texas has played well defensively against Baylor each of the past two years. 

(BU didn't score an offensive point until midway through the 3Q of a 28-7 Baylor win in 2014, and UT held the Bears to 17 points in a 23-17 Texas win last year in Waco - with BU down to its 5th-string QB.)

Charlie Strong and this coaching staff have no margin for error, and I think the players will fight for them.

Through no sound logic at all, and against my better judgment and defying the trends, I'll go with an emotion-driven Texas win ...

TEXAS 40 ... BAYLOR 37

******

TAYLOR ESTES

I can see Saturday's game going in one of two directions.

Scenario 1: Texas comes out flat on offense, giving the Bears a chance to strike early and often, leading to a Baylor blowout in front of its home crowd and causing even more cries for change at the top of Texas football.

Scenario 2: The Longhorns play like there is nothing to lose and shocks the Bears in Austin.

Unfortunately for Texas fans, the likely scenario is probably No. 1.

After starting the season with so much firepower on offense, Sterlin Gilbert's unit has absolutely fizzled, and nobody can really point out why this has happened.

The first two games of the season featured an offense that played the entire game and put up consistent points on the board.

In Games 3 and 4, the offense came out with fire in the first half, but slowed in the second.

And in the last three games, Texas has only managed to score 23 points in the first half - six 15 minute quarters and only 23 TOTAL points.

Whatever the reason leading to these inconsistent performances of late needs to be fixed when facing a Baylor offense that can easily put up points in a blink of the eye.

Baylor has averaged 43 points against Big 12 opponents this season, compared to Texas, which has averaged 30 points in conference games.

There's no doubt the defense is going to give up points to the Bears, and if anyone is expecting different, they will be in for a rude awakening.

Saturday's outcome is going to be determined by the Longhorns' offense. If it can carry the weight of the team and do its job, then this could be a shootout and I would give the edge to the home team.

The logical pick is probably Baylor with all things considered.

I just have a weird feeling Texas is going to play like it has nothing to lose - which is probably the case for this team - and is going to pull an upset at a time where the Longhorns desperately need to gain some momentum.

Texas 42, Baylor 41

******

HD CONTRIBUTOR ALLEN PERKINS

When comparing QB vs. QB, WR vs. WR etc. Baylor has the edge at QB, WR, defense, special teams and coaching.

Baylor loves to go for it on 4th down, regardless of down/distance/situation. A potential X factor could be 10-14 point swings after stuffing Baylor on 4th down, then scoring.

Look for Baylor QB Seth Russell (ranked high in most passing categories) to have a big game running and throwing. WR Ishmael Zamora (76 YPG receiving, does everything) and RB Shock Linwood (6.5 YPC, shifty) will give UT headaches.

Baylor is confident. The Bears have a recent culture of winning championships. That matters. Baylor has a plan and “trusts the process.” It doesn’t get rattled and punch back when challenged.

The UT defense should identify what opposing offenses want to do, and make it do something different. But the Longhorns haven't done that.

Baylor’s defense is small. It is not full of All-Americans. However, the Bears play with an All-American mindset. Meaning, they forget the last play and move on.

Baylor plays fast and swarms to the ball and has playmakers on D - LB Taylor Young (1), S Orion Stewart (28) and DB Travon Blanchard (48). The DBs are Baylor’s best unit.

Offensive coordinator Kendal Briles attacks the whole field. His offense is versatile and unpredictable. Baylor is the inventor of the offense, Texas is the imitator. Baylor is averaging 17 points in the 2nd quarter this year. Keep an eye on Baylor’s adjustments after a few drives.

DC Phil Bennett’s defense (3-4, conservative) finds ways to get turnovers and stops in the red zone. In the 4th quarter, Oklahoma State came away with zero points on two drives inside the Baylor 10. 

The UT offense struggled for the second week in a row against KSU. Open up the playbook. Stop throwing the WR screen or block better. Go 4 wide, single back or use TE more.

The Longhorns' defense should identify what opposing offenses want to do, and make them do something different. They don’t do that. 

Texas has to be ready for the Baylor's uptempo offense. The defense will need to get turnovers (or TO on downs), and the offense actually needs to CONVERT turnovers into points. Texas needs to play near perfect to win. 

I hope I’m wrong, but …

Baylor 45, Texas 31


Horns Digest Top Stories