IT's Baylor Game Picks

IT's Bill Frisbie, Michael Pearle and Clendon Ross give you their picks, and the reasoning behind those picks, in Saturday's game between Texas and Baylor.

Frisbie -- Here's my game prediction: Oklahoma 31, Texas 20.

What's that? We're not supposed to look ahead to October 9? Well, heck, most Orangebloods have been looking toward next Saturday's affair in the Cotton Bowl since the third quarter of last year's OU debacle. Baylor is just a road bump this week, if that.

Texas has outscored the beleaguered Bruins, 97-0, the past two seasons. Baylor is the second-youngest team in D-I football (only SMU has more underclassmen). Baylor played fairly evenly with Texas State two weeks ago and was actually outscored in the second half, 14-3. Baylor has a number of starters from the Austin area but not a single player that Texas actively recruited.

Click above for info on IT's exclusive Austin premiere screening of Friday Night Lights

Personally, I'm more excited about the premiere of "Friday Night Lights" than I am the Baylor game. That's because the least important game on the Longhorn schedule this season is the week before the most important game of Mack Brown's career. (Only two UT coaches have dropped five straight to the Sooners. A loss on October 9 for Brown makes the 2005 OU game as career-saving, in my estimation).

To their credit, you won't find a single Longhorn who will publicly state that Saturday's game is an automatic 'W'. You'll hear them talking about "focusing" squarely on what they say is an improving opponent. But the only semblance of suspense that Saturday's mismatch at DKR will create has to do with whether Cedric Benson gets his 180 yards to break Earl Campbell's career rushing mark at home, the likely debut of prep All-American Frank Okam at starting LDT, and whether QB Vince Young can find his touch on deep balls to freshman SE Nate Jones. (I honestly believe Jones could be the other WR that coaches are still looking for to complement FL Tony Jeffery.)

Meanwhile, Brown continues to go through his litany of worries regarding _______ (fill in blank with this week's opponent). I lost track of how many times Brown mentioned during his Monday press conference that he wasn't getting much sleep these days. Those sleepless nights have nothing to do with Baylor. It has to do with the fact that, so far this season, the Horns are playing like the second-best team in the Big 12 South. And that's not going to cut it for very much longer at the Forty Acres. But this Saturday's mismatch is the cure for insomnia.

Here's my sleep number: Texas 48, Baylor 3.

Pearle -- I was listening to Jeff Ward and Ed Clements this week on KLBJ in Austin talking about Saturday's Texas-Baylor game. Referring to former Bear coach Grant Teaff's gobbling of a worm before the 1978 contest, after which the Bears knocked off the heavily favored Horns 38-14, a laughing Ward got off a good one. He said, "Guy Morriss will have to swallow a spitting cobra to get this Baylor team to beat these Horns!"

Exactly. Texas has beaten Baylor by a combined 146-10 the last three years, and has allowed no points against Baylor since 2001. In trying to paint the Bears as a team to respect and not overlook, Mack Brown this week had to resort to talking about last year's Baylor upset win over a down Colorado. There's not much else. With a couple of struggling wins over North Texas and Texas State this season, and a blowout loss to Brown's brother Watson's UAB squad, Baylor does not promise to pose any kind of a test for Texas, not at least in terms of a win or loss.

There is one aspect of this game though that I am anxious to see: whether the Horns can get to the Bear quarterback on a consistent basis. Baylor will throw the ball and will finally give us a truer picture of just what kind of problems Texas is having with its pass rush than have the Rice's and North Texas'. If the Horns do get to Bear QB Dane King, we still won't know whether they will be able to get enough heat on Jason White next Saturday to disrupt the OU offense, but it will nonetheless be encouraging. But if the front four can't even get to the Baylor quarterback, then board up the beach house, because we'll know that nothing's gonna stop White from ripping the Horn secondary apart.

But OU's next week. This week, Texas will run its powerful offense as it pleases and will swarm to the ball on defense. I expect Baylor to move the ball a little and maybe chalk up a few scores, but this one will be out of reach by halftime and the Horns will already be gazing up I-35 to Fair Park. Texas 48, Baylor 14.

Ross -- Which Baylor team will show up in DKR Saturday? The one that gave up 56 points(!) while scoring just 14 in its opener to that other team coached by a Brown brother (UAB), or the one that reportedly made huge strides towards respectability (at least that's what one of the Bears' broadcasters said) in a 37-14 win over North Texas last weekend? Or does it really matter?

Well, not in terms of who's gonna win (that would be Texas, in case you're wondering), but in terms of margin of victory, I guess it does indeed matter. Texas would hang a hundred on that season-opening Baylor squad but I'm thinking the new-and-improved Bears may cut that number in half.

Unless -- drum roll please -- the coaches, finally with a full complement of healthy wide receivers, choose to use this game to polish a to-this-point inconsistent passing game by forcing a 70-30 pass-run ratio rather than the opposite, which is where the O is at after three games (218 offensive plays; 150 runs and 68 passes). If Texas sticks with its run-centric offense, as I expect, this one will be in the 40s-plus on the Longhorn side.

Greg Robinson's defenders will get their first shot at pinning their ears back and attack the quarterback without fear of him scrambling for a big gainer (Bear QB Dane King's long run on the season is a whoppin' two yards). That should lead to some big defensive plays, even including that recently elusive creature the sack!

Little if anything that happens Saturday at DKR (aside from a dreadful loss) will give us much indication what is in store the following Saturday in Dallas. But it sure would be nice to see a consistent pass rush, crisp routes run (and catches) by the wideouts, shutdown defensive backfield play, and no more dings to any starters. That will be a successful lead-in to the real season that starts Oct. 9. Texas 52, Baylor 9.

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