Theres no doubt Benson will be in the starting lineup against Nebraska and will respond with, oh, 60 yards or so. This week, the Horns are looking to third-down back Brett Robin, backup Selvin Young (98 yards against Baylor last year) and what could be a weapon-in-disguise in Anthony Johnson (61 yards on 12 carries) to carry the mail at Floyd Casey Stadium.
But there is no doubt that Texas is the nations No. 17 rushing offense (up from No. 74 last season) largely because Mister Young has sparked the unit that now averages 199 yards per outing. Youngs influence is likely to open lanes for the running backs as opposing defenses now must account for the Texas QB on every play.
Baylor officials opted against Pay-Per-View because they know Bevo is a cash cow for their beleaguered program. The Texas game is their biggest money-maker because enough Orangebloods will make the trip to Waco (cha-ching) to keep the turnstiles moving, even if it does mean the Horns will have the home field.
The coach-speak this week centered around Baylors 42-30 win over injury-riddled and perennially psycho Colorado.
"Now even Baylor and Kansas can beat you," head coach Mack Brown said, referencing the overall top-to-bottom improvement in the Big 12. "They (Baylor) are playing with more confidence, which is probably the biggest thing."
Maybe, but this is a program that has had as many head coaches as it has Big 12 wins until the Colorado game. And that laugher was sandwiched between em-bear-assments to Texas A&M (73-10) and North Texas (52-14). Of course, most teams bring their A-Game when Texas comes calling.
"Im expecting the best Baylor team to show up," FS Phillip Geiggar said. "They always play their best when they play us. Im expecting them to come out fired up and ready."
Although it wasnt that long ago, its hard to fathom that the series was dead-even (10 wins apiece) from 1974-1993. In fact, Baylor was the last team to shutout Texas when it posted a 16-0 win in 1980. Texas has won nine of the past ten, losing only in 1997 when the Longhorn football team fired coach John Mackovic weeks before AD DeLoss Dodds did.
First year Baylor coach Guy Morriss is 3-4 and has infused the program with guarded optimism and discipline. But with contests remaining at OU and Kansas State plus home games against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech (a combined winning percentage of .780), the Bears probably won their last game of 2003 when the goalposts came down against the Buffaloes. Morris replaced Kevin Steele who was fired before the completion of his fourth season.
"Kevin improved the place but he couldnt get over the hump because he couldnt win the one that would give the program some credibility," Brown said. "Then he lost a couple of games, like to UNLV, that just killed him. With them beating Colorado three weeks ago, their staff now has credibility."
The Bears also have a running game.
Baylor RB Rashad Armstrong is third in the Big 12 (No. 23 NCAA) with 98.7 ypc. He also leads the leagues with 159 carries. With just three yards Saturday, the senior will have rushed for more yards than any Baylor player in a decade (Brandell Jackson, 899 in 1993).
Baylor has departed from its no-huddle offense from Steeles days.
"Theyre running the ball better," Brown said. "Theyre using play-action pass. From what we can tell, theyre doing what Spike (Dykes) used to do by running out of the huddle and getting down right quick so you cant adjust very much and snap the ball quick. Theyre doing some things to give them a chance in every ballgame."
Baylors rushing offense, overall, is pitiful at just 117.3 ypc (NCAA No. 91).
QB Aaron Karas owns the programs career completion percentage of .601 (292-of-486), just ahead of legendary QB Don Trull. On the season, the junior is 106-of-181 for 1,115 yards including 10 TD and 8 INT. But Baylors passing offense of 176.6 ypg is ranked No. 96 nationally, ahead of only Nebraska in league standings.
The only Baylor WR worth a mention is senior Robert Quiroga, who has provided the teams only 100-plus yards receiving game this season when he responded with 113 yards on eight grabs against Colorado. He is seventh among active Big 12 receivers with 116 career catches.
The good old Baylor line has a future star in RT Nick Pace. The true freshman is listed at 6-3, 284.
"We should have recruited that guy," defensive coordinator Carl Reese said. "He was on our list."
Still, it adds up to the Big 12s worst offense (293.9 ypg) to rank No. 108 nationally.
Baylors two-deep chart features nine true freshmen for the Texas game, including DT Quincy Jenkins, making the Cubs, er, Bears, the leagues youngest team. What the defense lacks in experience, it is trying to compensate with aggressiveness. Baylor is becoming more of a blitzing, bump-and-run team than in years past.
"They are blitzing the heck out of you now," Brown said. "Theyre playing man (coverage) all over the field. If you dont hit passes, theyre right in the middle of it."
Im sure SE Roy Williams is shaking in his shoulder pads when he sees that he has a four-to-six inch height advantage over every Baylor DB. Still, safety Derrick Cash is fifth on Baylors career interception return yardage list with 189 yards.
LB John Garrett is 4.5 sacks shy of the school record set in 1992. He has six sacks on the year, and no Bear has posted seven or more single-season sacks in a decade.
Bottom line: Baylors pass defense is mediocre (219.9 ypg, NCAA No. 61) and its run defense is woeful (195 ypg, NCAA No. 103).
While the Bear defense hasnt slowed anyone (other than Colorado) all year, it cannot impede the coach-speak.
"Theyll have their best game, theyll have their best shot, theyll have their best crowd, and theyll have the most energy," Brown said. "We understand because thats what we get every week, so were expecting a great game out of them. Our guys have practiced like theyre ready to go and this team is getting better each week and theyre growing up each week. They understand how important this game is."
There is a bright spot or two for Baylor: P Daniel Sepulveda leads the Big 12 and ranks ninth nationally with a 45.3 average. And Baylors football program posted a 77 percent graduation rate according to recent figures, the best in the Big 12.
The Horns and Bears tee it up for the 93rd time at 6 p.m. (Central), the third-most played series in UT history.