IT's Baylor Game Picks

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

IT's Picks:

Frisbie -- For Texas’ 11:30 a.m. kick against hapless Baylor, Longhorn fans will wear orange, arrive early and stay late -- but only if they want to see future UT stars log some quality minutes (perhaps as early as the first half). This is not to say that Texas will be so far out in front of the 3-6 Bears by halftime that Mack Brown will start emptying the bench, or that lame duck Baylor coach Kevin Steele will start pulling married guys off the field. It’s just that Brown has played every position two-deep (except for quarterback) most of this season. This means that second-string guys (and third-teamers) will see their most action since the Tulane game. And it’s not because Baylor is that bad (which, in fact, it is) but that Brown is that confident in the depth coaches have developed throughout the season. The kids who have contributed the blood and sweat on the practice fields should see ample time on the playing field Saturday. Ideally, the stands will still be full to cheer on the youngsters who could be household names in a season or two.

This is not to say Texas is taking Baylor lightly. Players and coaches have taken a business-like approach to this one (which should not only give Texas five-consecutive nine-win seasons for the first time in school history, but should also spare the rest of us the agony of a North Texas-like game). North Texas could probably beat Baylor. Just how bad are the Bears? The Bruins rank dead last in the Big 12 in the following categories: scoring offense (18.3; NCAA No. 106); rushing offense (106.2, NCAA No. 102); punting (27.8, NCAA No. 115); turnovers (-16, NCAA No. 116), kickoff returns (17.0, NCAA No. 108), third-down conversions (33.8), penalties (70.2) and, needless to say, PATs.

The consistent bright spot on this beleaguered squad is senior receiver Reggie Newhouse, son of former Dallas Cowboy great Robert Newhouse (with but one exception, all Cowboy greats are "former"). He is Baylor’s all-time leading receiver with 164 catches and is the Big 12’s fifth all-time leading receiver coming into Saturday’s game. Newhouse needs just 12 grabs in his remaining three games to surpass former Texas WR Kwame Cavil for second place on the league's career list. Newhouse is also just 120 yards shy of surpassing 1,000 yards on the season and is averaging 6.2 receptions (15.7 avg), good for the conference’s fourth leading receiver on the season (NCAA No. 19). Still, he hasn’t faced a secondary all year like Texas’ third-ranked unit. Despite his stats, Newhouse has just two touchdowns all year and will not duplicate his season total against Rob Babers and company. Newhouse, should, however, spare the secondary of boredom.

The Bears will run into the stadium, pumping their fists and whooping it up, because Steele will have just given them his first pre-game pep talk since being fired last Sunday. They’ll want to go out there and win one for the Gipper, but we’d appreciate it if they would save that sort of thing for their last home game against Oklahoma. It won’t matter. Brown’s teams have defeated Baylor by an average margin of 47-11. That sounds about right. Texas 47, Baylor 6.

Ross -- Mack Brown's comment that Kevin Steele has "done an outstanding job" at Baylor is, to put it nicely, not backed up by the facts (some of those facts/stats are shown above in Frisbie's piece, and add to that list the Bears' 1-28 record in Big 12 play under Steele). Steele's Baylor (this year and before) is a terrible football team. I do believe the argument can be made that expecting any more from the program in Waco is unrealistic given the new reality of football and football recruiting in Texas (a near-dominant Texas, a resurgent Texas Tech and TCU, an always tough in recruiting -- at least vs. second tier schools -- A&M, and the presence of recruiters from far more attractive programs from around the country). Regardless, Steele's team in year four is not appreciably better, and may be worse, than in year one (other than in off-the-field matters). And attracting good kids but few fans and fewer wins ain't gonna cut it even at a private religious college. So, what does that mean for Saturday? Well, nothing really, other than the fact that Baylor is not a team capable of playing at UT's level. Theoretically, the Horns could play wayyyyy down to the Bears' level, but, as I've written before, Brown over the last two years has done a masterful job of having his team prepared to play each regular season game post-OU. This game should be no different. The Texas offense, which is mostly healthy, should provide long drives to keep the Texas defense, which is not healthy, off the field. The banged up guys rest, but the Horns still roll. Texas 50, Baylor 3.

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