Scenarios: vs. Baylor

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Texas wins if

Though the show ended before he was born, Sam Ehlinger is still showing “Growing Pains” every week.

The freshman quarterback has shown some promise. He’s completed 55.7 percent of his passes and thrown for six touchdowns this year. However, his decision making has been questionable at times.

Ehlinger has five fumbles and four interceptions in just five games this year. His inability to keep possession of the ball often causes the Texas offense to sputter and lack a consistent flow. This was especially evident in the Longhorns’ 13-10 loss to Oklahoma State last Saturday.

On a drive during the second quarter, Ehlinger led Texas into field goal range on Oklahoma State’s 27-yard line. Following the snap on second-and-10, Oklahoma State redshirt junior defensive end Trey Carter made his way into the Longhorn backfield. Ehlinger backpedaled away, but was sacked and lost the ball on contact. The ball was recovered by the quarterback, but Texas lost 34 yards on the play and ultimately was forced to punt.

Later in overtime, on the last play of the game, Ehlinger rolled to his left and threw a lob intended for junior wide receiver Jerrod Heard. The ball sailed past Heard into the hands of Oklahoma State senior safety Ramon Richards, effectively ending the game.

The Longhorns win against Baylor if Ehlinger can cut down on his mistakes. The Bears’ defense averages 39.7 points allowed per game. Ehlinger doesn’t need to be perfect — freshman quarterbacks rarely are. But if he can keep the offense on the field and make smart decisions rather than mental errors, Texas is bound to score more than 10 points.

Texas loses if

Though Baylor has yet to when a game this season, the offense has had its moments. In Baylor’s game against then-No. 23 West Virginia last week, the Bears nearly pulled off an upset thanks to a 23-point fourth quarter by the high-scoring unit.

Freshman running back Tristan Ebner led the charge both on the ground and through the air. Ebner rushed just three times, but picked up 54 yards and a score. He also caught five passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Still, the Mountaineers were able to hold off the rally, edging out Baylor, 38-36.

Texas loses this game if the defense allows big performances such as Ebner’s. Unlike West Virginia, the Longhorn offense doesn’t have the firepower to simply outscore an opposing team.

The defense has stepped up to the challenge for the most part, but has also shown that it’s capable of unraveling. The unit that picked off opposing quarterbacks in six straight games is the same one that gave up 51 points to Maryland in Week 1. If Texas plays like it did against the Terrapins, Baylor could pick up its first win at
the Longhorns’ expense.