Bill Frisbie, Lead Writer -- Preseason predictions almost always include the prognosis that this will finally be the year that Baylor at least shows signs of life and gets over that proverbial hump. But it's clear that upsets of Texas A&M and Colorado in recent years were aberrations rather than turned corners for the beleagured program. How bad are things in Waco?
For starters, Baylor has not had a winning season since the formation of the Big 12 in 1996. In fact, when Guy Morriss arrived from Kentucky in 2004, the Bears actually had more head coaches than total Big 12 wins since joining the league. The Bears have not been bowling in 13 years, and have never won more than three Big 12 games in a single-season. In short, Baylor has been the worst team in the relatively short history of the Big 12. To make matters worse, Baylor's starting QB suffered a mild concussion against Kansas and offensive line/TE coach Eric Schnupp has been suspended indefinitely. The assistant was charged with disorderly conduct and reckless exposure after he reportedly urinated on the bar of a Waco nightclub in the wee hours Sunday morning.
This used to be one of the most competitive contests on Texas' slate. It's hard to believe that there was a time when the home team in this series won all but three times between 1973-1993. Try telling current UT students that, during their lifetime, Baylor came to Austin (1989) and embarrassed the Horns to the tune of 50-7, and they'll try to take your car keys and call you a cab.
Mack Brown, of course, sports a 9-0 mark against Baylor. The Bears jumped to a 10-0 lead last year and hung 31 on a Texas team whose tank was half-empty the week after beating Oklahoma. The 2007 Longhorns do not sport a vintage defense but it's solid enough to pitch a shutout this weekend. The Kansas State loss seems to have galvanized the Longhorn team that travels to Baylor as a 24-point favorite. Really, anything less would be a step back. Texas 48, Baylor 9.
Ross Lucksinger, InsideTexas.com Editor -- Another week, another lightly regarded foe on the road. But when the Longhorns head to Waco on Saturday they'll face a tougher match than they did against Iowa State...but not by much.
Baylor brings enough on offense to give the Horns a bit of a scare, but not enough to get the job done and definitely not enough defense. If the Bears do get things rolling on offense, it may not matter because, based on their performance so far, Colt McCoy will light up the Baylor DBs.
Something else aiding the Horns in their fight will be necessary motivation. Aside from the otherworldly number of upsets this season, Texas coaches also have last year's game to point to, in which Texas gave up 31 points. In addition, the Longhorns are fighting for respect. They teetered on the edge of the top 25 after consecutive losses to open conference play and are more aware than anyone else that the execution has not matched the level of talent on this team.
The Baylor secondary didn't give the Horns much of a fight last season and will be much the same this Saturday. McCoy broke the Texas single-game TD record with six in his first game against Baylor and you can expect the same sort of success this year. Probably not of the record-breaking variety, but plenty enough to get it done.
Baylor is catching Texas at a bad time. Overconfidence and motivation won't be an issue, no matter how high the spread is. The Bears will score a couple of TDs on the Texas secondary, but it won't be nearly enough. Texas 48, Baylor 17
Mike Blackwell, Inside Texas Magazine Editor -- I've heard enough jokes about urinating on a bar this week to last me for awhile. Feel free to read on – there will be none of those here. I am making a public wager, however, that at least two of my Inside Texas colleagues will have a snide comment or two to make on this subject. Our crew can be cold and heartless like that.
The term "cold and heartless" can also be used this week to describe the Texas-Baylor game. This will be ugly from the start; Texas enters as a 24-point underdog, and if my wife and Johnny Law would let me, I'd bet the house, take Texas and gleefully give those points. The Longhorns will be ahead by 24 points at halftime.
Baylor's not sure who their quarterback is going to be. Blake Syzmanski, who has started every game this season, is still suffering from a concussion. It would probably behoove him to stay dizzy until, oh, mid-afternoon on Saturday. His potential replacements are John David Weed and Michael Machem, who have both been described by one Austin media outlet as "statuesque." Statuesque is good if you're wanting to date Tom Brady. Not so good if you're a Baylor backup quarterback.
Baylor's also not sure who their coach is going to be after this season, though they are saying all of the "he's our football coach" things right now, pertaining to Guy Morriss. The shadow over Waco looks a lot like Mike Singletary.
On the Texas side of the ledger, the local "Gripe of the Week" is that Texas isn't playing its second-team linebackers enough. This after beating a league opponent 56-3 last week. At the risk of sounding like an old curmudgeon (which I proudly am), it's now not enough to beat your opponent by 53 points; you need to also play your backup linebackers more?
Oh well, at least it gives Greg Davis a week off from the bashing. No it doesn't – haven't you heard? – he should've played his backup quarterback more.
Cool, I've written nearly 300 words without talking much about this week's game! That's because this week's game will not be pretty, and we all know it. Jack Nicklaus used to say that in his career he'd walk through the lockerroom knowing full well that he was going to beat all of the guys in the place. All the guys in the place knew it, too, but most importantly, all the guys in the place knew that Nicklaus knew they knew they couldn't beat him (good luck diagramming that sentence). This week, Texas is Jack Nicklaus; Baylor is J.C. Snead.
For those of you who like to complain, Texas will play the backup linebackers plenty this week, and Sergio Kindle will do a very nice Lawrence Taylor imitation. John Chiles will play a ton, and Jamaal Charles will rush for 150 yards before coming out of the game in the third quarter. Texas will win again, big.
However, the Longhorns will give up a few more passing yards than they should.
Shouldn't they be playing the backup defensive backs more? Texas 56, Baylor 3.
Michael Pearle, Co-Publisher -- Mack Brown said this week that after the Kansas State loss, Texas decided to start the season over. So Texas plays the third game in its "starting over" campaign of 2007 Saturday against Baylor. Why they needed to wait five games before they decided to play good football with emotion and intensity, I'm not sure, but hey, better late than never. Actually, with two conference losses, it may well be too late to achieve their goal of winning the South and the Big 12. Still, at least in the blowout over Iowa State, the Horns did what they were supposed to do – demolish an inferior opponent, and look totally dominant in the process.
This week, the Horns face another tough situation, playing against a downtrodden opponent on the road, with absolutely nothing to gain from the perspective of rankings and national attention, but everything to lose. Beat the Bears, and maybe Texas gets a few Gameday highlights on ESPN; lose, and they will be the lead story of the day. Can Baylor cause Texas to become one of this season's all-too-common "Embarrassment of the Week" stories? Possibly, but I don't see it happening.
This Texas team looked against the Cyclones like they may have finally figured a few things out. Colt McCoy looked like his vintage, pre-injury, 2006 self, hitting receivers all over the field and running effectively when he needed to. The defense allowed a mere field goal, and made veteran quarterback Bret Meyer look bad. Baylor has the ability to put up points on Texas, as they did last year, but the Horns appear to be maturing into the team we all hoped they would be six games ago. Texas makes the short trip up I-35 to Floyd Casey and stomps the Bears Saturday. In the process, I'm looking to see more Kindle, more Norton, more McGee, and more Chiles. Let the younger guys play! Texas 52, Baylor 17.
Clendon Ross, Co-Publisher -- Texas has now outperformed my expectation two weeks running. I expected a blowout in the Cotton Bowl and a comfortable, but not a huge win, in Ames. Actually, what we've seen the last two weeks matches my preseason expectations for the Horns; I felt like this Longhorn team would be at a level to play Oklahoma about even and blow out the patsies on the schedule like Iowa State. But that all changed with the results over the first five weeks of the season. So now, after eight consecutive quarters of solid football, is it safe to believe this team has overcome its early season funk and will now play to the level I expected from the get-go?
I think so. In our preseason Roundtable, I picked this Texas team to finish with a final record of 10-3, and No. 2 to OU in the conference. I'm sticking by those picks, which means this team still has a loss left in them. It just won't be this weekend in Waco.
Baylor's three wins this year have come over Rice, Texas State and Buffalo (no, not the Bills, although I'm not sure how impressive even that would be). The Bears lost their season opener to TCU, and then their Big 12 opener to the Aggies. Need I say more? If Baylor can't come within 24 in a bitter, evenly-matched rivalry game vs. Texas A&M, how are they gonna hang with Texas?
Seriously, the Bears are surrendering an average of almost 500 yards and 45 points per game to Big 12 opponents while scoring under 15 per game, and this week, they'll probably be trotting out an untested quarterback against an improving Longhorn defense. Given that, I see a second consecutive week that the Texas defensive ends disrupt and the secondary gets those takeaways so desperately needed vs. Kansas State and Oklahoma and a third consecutive week that Colt McCoy looks like the McCoy of 2006 rather than the McCoy of early 2007. (Aggie QB Stephen McGee passed for 200 yards against this Bear bunch; my trusty transitive property calculator tells me that means 400 yards for McCoy.) It also won't be a surprise to see Jamaal Charles, despite limited carries, top the 100-yard mark for the first time since week three.
All signs point to another UT blowout (which, given the way this crazy season has gone, means it'll probably be a nailbiter). Texas 52, Baylor 14.
Average of IT Members Picks: Texas 53, Baylor 12.