Bryce Petty

TCU’s Boykin named O’Brien Award semifinalist

TCU has seemingly come out of nowhere to shock everyone by being the highest ranked team in the Big 12 so far this season, and a big reason for its success has been the play of redshirt junior quarterback Trevone Boykin. Tuesday, Boykin was named a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award, which recognizes the top quarterback in the country. This season, Boykin has thrown for 2,472 yards, 22 touchdowns and four interceptions — all career highs. His 361.9 total yards per game lead the conference and place him fourth in the nation. He’s also led the Horned Frogs to scoring drives on 51.4 percent of their possessions.

OU’s Shepard questionable for Baylor game

Oklahoma heads into its showdown against Baylor riding high after a win over Iowa State, but it could be without one of its better receivers this weekend. On the Sooners’ first offensive play, junior receiver Sterling Shepard went down with a groin injury and had to be carted off the field. Shepard returned to the field in uniform but did not play the rest of the game. After the contest, head coach Bob Stoops wasn’t sure if he would be able to go against Baylor. Shepard leads the Sooners with 50 receptions for 957 yards and five touchdowns this season.

Petty tapped as Maxwell Award semifinalist

Baylor senior quarterback Bryce Petty has had a down year by his, and Baylor’s, standards, but it hasn’t stopped him from being in contention for some postseason recognition. On Monday, Petty was named a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award, which is given to the collegiate player of the year. This season, Petty has thrown for 2,034 yards, 20 touchdowns and only three interceptions, but he is still on pace to finish below his numbers from 2013, when he threw for 4,200 yards and 32 touchdowns. Maxwell Award finalists will be named on Nov. 24.

Knight headlines Big 12 Awards

After an incredible Sugar Bowl in January, Oklahoma sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight has been a bit of a disappointment this season. But Saturday, Knight accounted for a total of six touchdowns in a 59-14 win and was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week. Knight finished the win against Iowa State with 230 passing yards and three touchdowns and added another three scores on the ground, becoming only the second quarterback to throw and run for three touchdowns in a game.

Last week’s Big 12 game of the week featured two top-20 teams and a showdown of “Kevin Whites.” TCU’s Kevin White, senior cornerback, won that battle with seven total tackles, two of which were for losses, and a pass break up in the Horned Frogs’ 31-30 win and was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts. White held West Virginia’s Kevin White, senior wide receiver, to only three receptions and 28 yards in the game.

While White might have taken the headlines for his defensive effort, it was TCU junior kicker Jaden Oberkrom who won the game for the Horned Frogs with a 37-yard field goal as time expired and was named Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week for the second straight week. The kick was the 50th of his career, ranking him fourth in program history.

Big 12 Notebook: Week Nine

Nine weeks have passed since the start of this year’s college football season, and there is only one undefeated Big 12 team left.

No. 9 Kansas State stands atop the Big 12 Conference without a single loss in Big 12 play. A big part of why the Wildcats have been so successful is their quarterback, Jake Waters.

The defense is also formidable, coming off of a 23-0 shutout of the Longhorns last weekend in Manhattan. The Wildcats have allowed just 71 points to opposing teams, the least in the conference so far this year.

This coming week they’ll face another formidable foe, the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Cowboys suffered a tough loss at home to the No. 20 Mountaineers, but could still pose a threat to the Wildcats.

Even though the Wildcats are on everybody’s radar at this point, the most interesting game of the week will not be played in Kansas. No. 7 TCU will travel to Morgantown to face the No. 20 West Virginia Mountaineers this Saturday in what will be a nationally televised contest.

West Virginia is quite possibly the best of the two-loss teams in the country. The Mountaineers’ only losses have come at the hands of Alabama and Oklahoma.

They’ll have their hands full this weekend with a TCU team that is first in the country in points per game. The Horned Frogs are coming off of a record setting 82-27 win over the Red Raiders in Fort Worth last weekend.

TCU, in my opinion, is one of the most explosive teams in the country. In the last two games, TCU quarterback Trevon Boykin has put up Bryce Petty type numbers. He’s passed for over 400 yards and a total of 10 touchdowns in his last two games.

I think that Boykin quite possibly has replaced Petty as the best QB in the Big 12 at this point in the season. He is currently one of two quarterbacks in the Big 12 to have passed for over 2000 yards and 20 touchdowns so far this season. The other is Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb.

Either way, this weekend is critical for both Kansas State and TCU. Both teams face tough opponents in Oklahoma State and West Virginia. If they come out on top, next week’s matchup may well decide this year’s Big 12 champion.

Kansas State will play TCU in Fort Worth on November 8, a week from this Saturday. 

 

Here are this weekend’s games to watch:

1)    No. 7 TCU at No. 20 West Virginia – 2:30 p.m. (cst) ABC

2)    Oklahoma State at No. 9 Kansas State – 7 p.m. (cst) ABC

After completing just 31.8 percent of his passes Saturday, Baylor senior quarterback Bryce Petty recorded his worst career start.

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

Texas’ 28-7 loss to Baylor on Saturday marked the second consecutive loss at home and third overall defeat for the Longhorns this season. Here are four things that stuck out from the game.

Offense scuffles again

After showing improvements each of the last two weeks, the Texas offense failed to get anything going this time.

Despite winning the time of possession battle, the Longhorns were scoreless until junior running back Johnathan Gray’s 2-yard touchdown run with fewer than three minutes remaining in the game. The Longhorns managed just 334 yards of total offense — the fourth consecutive week they’ve failed to reach 350 yards — and turned the ball over three times.

Texas ran the ball better than it had since the first week of the season, racking up 190 yards on 40 carries as a team. It wasn’t enough to make a difference, however, as the Longhorns averaged just 4.2 yards on passing plays.

Swoopes struggles

After turning in a trio of promising performances in his first three career starts, sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes struggled mightily to move the ball against Baylor.

Swoopes completed just 16-of-34 passes for 144 yards, his fewest of the season. His 70.9 passer-rating and two interceptions were his career-worsts as a starter. It was also the first time in four career starts that he failed to record a touchdown pass, and his fumble at the goal line in the second quarter cost Texas a chance to tie the game before halftime.

Head coach Charlie Strong said Swoopes could have played better, but kept matters in perspective.

“It can’t rest solely on him, and he knows that,” Strong said. “He comes into the season as the backup. You lose your starting quarterback. So now, all of a sudden, you just can’t say, ‘Here is your backup quarterback, and everything is resting on your shoulders to go lead this football team.’”

Defense stifles Petty

Baylor senior quarterback Bryce Petty never managed to find a rhythm against the active Longhorn defense, causing him to turn in the worst start of his collegiate career.

The Heisman hopeful completed just seven passes for 111 yards, both career lows in games he has started. His 31.8 completion percentage was his worst mark as a starter, as was his 104.2 passer rating. 

Following the game, Petty credited the Texas defensive scheme for keeping him off balance.

“I’ll have to be honest with you; my head is still spinning trying to think about it,” Petty said. “They threw so many looks at us, coverage-wise. I couldn’t tell you what they did on consecutive plays.”

Special teams miscue

The Longhorns had a chance to take an early lead in the first quarter, when Strong sent junior kicker Nick Rose on the field to attempt a 52-yard field goal.

Momentum quickly swung to Baylor’s favor, however, as the Bears blocked Rose’s low, line-drive kick, and junior safety Terrell Burt returned it for a 62-yard touchdown. The costly decision to attempt the long field goal was questionable, considering Rose had missed three of six field goals and an extra point coming into the game.

The Longhorn special teams unit was spurned again in the third quarter when Baylor senior punter Spencer Roth faked a punt on fourth-and-5 and ran 19 yards for the first down. The Bears went on to score their first offensive touchdown of the game later that drive.

1. Oklahoma

The Sooners looked vulnerable at times against West Virginia, but when the going got tough, they stepped up, and that’s a good sign for OU. Once again, redshirt sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight was nothing special, but they are still finding ways to win. The defense stepped up in the second half to correct its issues, but the most encouraging part of the last few weeks has been freshman running back Samaje Perine, who rushed for 242 yards and four touchdowns against West Virginia.

2. Baylor

Redshirt senior quarterback Bryce Petty looks better and better every week. In his last start, he threw for 416 yards and four touchdowns with no picks. He has a lot of offensive weapons at his disposal, helping him lead the nation’s highest scoring offense. But the defense is most important for the Bears. Will it be good enough? So far, yes. They have allowed just nine points per game — second in the nation. But keep in mind, that’s against SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo.

3. Kansas State

The Wildcats were a good field goal kicker away from pulling off the upset against No. 5 Auburn. With that performance, they solidified their position as the conference’s third-best team. They are a ways behind Oklahoma and Baylor, but they shouldn’t be taken lightly. Head coach Bill Snyder gets the best of his team each season, and this season is no exception.

4. Oklahoma State

Behind a balanced attack, the Cowboys crushed a surprisingly good UTSA team in their last game. Senior running back Desmond Roland is making a case for the Big 12’s best rusher, while junior Daxx Garman has taken a stronghold on the quarterback position. Their only loss so far is a six point defeat at the hands of No. 1 Florida State — nothing to frown about.

5. West Virginia

The Mountaineers are the biggest surprise of the Big 12 so far. West Virginia played a close game against both No. 2 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma. But they also let Maryland hang around, so they may play down to their competition. Their offense is legit, putting up at least 33 points against all opponents except Alabama. Redshirt senior quarterback Clint Trickett is putting the team on his back, throwing for at least 348 yards in every game.

6. Texas

Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes is getting his footing under him, but the Longhorn defense is struggling to stop the run. Right now, the Longhorns are inexperienced, especially on the offensive line, but as Swoopes becomes more and more comfortable, the Longhorns could shoot up the rankings and battle for a top-four spot.

7. TCU

The Horned Frogs are still undefeated and play SMU next. That’s a good start, but they lack the talent at important positions to fight for a top spot in the Big 12. They aren’t ready yet, and it will be apparent when Oklahoma and Baylor get to beat up on them in October.

8. Iowa State

The Cyclones missed a huge upset opportunity against Kansas State, but they proved they can compete with one of the top teams in the conference. They simply lack the talent to do so consistently.

9. Texas Tech

The Red Raider defense is atrocious, with or without its coordinator. Sophomore quarterback Davis Webb and the explosive Tech offense won’t be able to make up for that against stout Big 12 competition.

10. Kansas

The Jayhawks are 2-1 so far, and if they win just one more game this season, it should be considered a success. It’s all Big 12 opponents from here on out, and that doesn’t bode well for Charlie Weis and Co.

Oklahoma, Baylor already standing out in Big 12

It’s the fifth week of the college football season, and we already have some first impressions of who will be in the mix for the Big 12 title this year.
 
The first team on everyone’s minds is Oklahoma. After stunning the Crimson Tide in last year’s Sugar Bowl, the Sooners are one of the favorites to make this year’s college football playoff.
 
So far this season, there isn’t much evidence to the contrary. The Sooners are 4-0, winning against Tennessee two weeks ago and away at West Virginia last weekend.
 
The keys to the Sooners’ success this season will hinge on sophomore QB Trevor Knight. Playing defense and running the ball are Oklahoma's biggest strengths, but they’ll need Knight to give them the extra push in games against tougher opponents.
 
The Baylor Bears are next up. Senior quarterback Bryce Petty is on my short list for Heisman this season and will be a big part in Baylor’s bid to win the Big 12 this year.
 
The difference maker for the Bears this season will be an away game in Norman. Last year Baylor beat Oklahoma by a score of 41-12. I don’t think that will be the case this season.
 
Although I like Baylor’s ability to move the ball better than the Sooners, I don’t trust the Bears to win in Norman. The Sooner’s home field advantage and stout defense will be too much to handle for Baylor.
 
Kansas State and Oklahoma State are both decent this year. I have both finishing in the top four with only two or three losses.
 
The Wildcats played a close one against the defending SEC champion Auburn Tigers, but couldn’t quite pull it off. It always seems like Bill Snyder is up near the top of the standings, and for good reason, he’s an excellent coach.
 
This year will take his best efforts. He has to play on the road against Oklahoma and Baylor. The good news is, he’ll have Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech at home.
 
OSU had a similar misstep, falling short to defending national champion Florida State in the Big 12’s premier non-conference opener.
 
The Cowboys were poised to put up a fight for the Big 12 until junior QB J.W. Walsh underwent surgery on his right foot after going down in week 2.
 
Still, I’m not going to count out Mike Gundy and his high scoring Cowboys.
 
TCU, Texas, and Texas Tech will end up somewhere in the middle with Iowa State, West Virginia, and Kansas bringing up the rear.
 
Here are twelve Big 12 matchups to look out for this season:
 
1)    Saturday Nov. 8 Baylor at Oklahoma
 
2)    Saturday Dec. 6 Oklahoma State at Oklahoma
 
3)    Saturday Dec. 6 Kansas State at Baylor
 
4)    Saturday Oct. 4 Baylor at Texas
 
5)    Saturday Oct. 11 Texas vs. Oklahoma
 
6)    Saturday Nov. 1 Texas at Texas Tech
 
7)    Saturday Nov. 1 Oklahoma State at Kansas State
 
8)    Saturday Oct. 18 Kansas State at Oklahoma
 
9)    Saturday Oct. 18 Baylor at West Virginia
 
10) Saturday Nov. 8 Texas at West Virginia
 
11) Saturday Nov. 15 Oklahoma at Texas Tech
 
12) Thursday Nov. 27 TCU at Texas
 

A season after leading the Red Raiders to a 7-0 start and a big bowl win over Arizona State, Kliff Kingsbury will remain the head coach at Texas Tech through the 2020 season, the university said last Friday. Kingsbury, who quarterbacked the team from 1998-2002, led the Red Raiders to their third-straight bowl game and unified a fan base that has been fractured since Mike Leach was fired in 2009. The deal will pay Kingsbury an average of $3.5 million per year, which will make him the fourth-highest paid coach in the conference.

Iowa State receiver out for season

The 34-14 loss to North Dakota State, an FCS powerhouse, was tough enough for Iowa State, but things got even worse Monday for the Cyclones. Head coach Paul Rhoads announced that wide receiver Quenton Bundrage will miss the remainder of the season after tearing his ACL in the game Saturday. Bundrage, a redshirt junior, was expected to be a big part of the Cyclone offense, especially after the season he had last year. In 2013, he caught 48 passes for 676 yards and nine touchdowns, all of which led the team. The loss puts a dent in a position group that was expected to be a strength for Iowa State. The Cyclones returned nine receivers who caught a pass in 2013.

Baylor QB Bryce Petty day-to-day with back injury

Baylor senior quarterback Bryce Petty is listed as day-to-day after suffering a back injury during the Bears’ 45-0 win over SMU on Sunday night. The injury likely came when Petty was hit from behind on his first run of the game. However, he played through the rest of the first half before being removed for the start of the second half. An MRI on Monday showed bones sticking out from the spine were cracked, but the injury is expected to heal itself without surgery. Petty expects to be able to play Saturday when Baylor faces Northwestern State.

Boykin, Ogbah, Alford earn Big 12 honors

It appears that TCU head coach Gary Patterson made the right move last Saturday, starting quarterback
Trevone Boykin against Samford. Boykin was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week after completing a career-high 29 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions. The junior also added a rushing touchdown and led the Horned Frogs to scores on seven of his 12 possessions.

Oklahoma State nearly pulled off a big upset in week one, thanks in part to sophomore defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. Ogbah registered six tackles, two sacks and two pass breakups and was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week for his effort. Ogbah was part of a Cowboy defensive line that held Florida State to 3.4 yards per run in the losing effort.

Mario Alford, West Virginia kick returner, rounded out this week’s conference awards, claiming the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week honor. The senior gave No. 2 Alabama a bit of a scare with a 100-yard kickoff return, which tied the game at 17. Alford also had 54 receiving yards for the Mountaineers in the 33-23 loss.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Redshirt junior Bryce Petty didn’t have the easiest shoes to fill. He watched Robert Griffin III walk across the Heisman stage. Then he watched as Nick Florence broke Griffin’s single-season Baylor record for passing yards.

“Those guys have put a lot of standards up there that are going to be tough to beat,” head coach Art Briles said on Petty following Griffin and Florence before the season. “But Petty has been around everything. He understands he’s got the physical presence and ability to do it. What we gotta do is just let him get in situations and let him create his own identity.”

Coming into the season under-the-radar, he didn’t feel much pressure. It was the sophomore running back—Lache Seastrunk—who everyone thought of as a Heisman Trophy candidate. He averaged nearly eight yards per carry the year before and looked poised to carry the Bears offense.

Despite Seastrunk’s solid season, it is actually Petty who has carried Baylor and thrown his name into the Heisman discussion.

“I think he’s been phenomenal and the thing that impresses me is, first of all, his leadership because you never really know about someone until you go through the fire with them — go through some kind of adversity with them,” Briles said. “Fortunately, we haven’t had a lot of adversity but when we have, he’s been really strong and really solid.”

Petty is currently eighth in the country in passing yards, leading the highest scoring offense in the nation. All he can do now is reflect on his past years on the bench and marvel in the current year leading a Top 10 team.

“I think God has a very funny way of writing out and planning our story
better than we could,” Petty said. “If I had it my own way I would’ve been playing since I was a freshman and all that stuff. But to have the team that we have now, I couldn’t have wrote it better myself.”

Texas realizes what they are up against — a Baylor team that isn’t the highest scoring team in the nation for no reason. When watching film, Texas’ defensive coordinator Greg Robinson can only admire the offense he prepares to solve.

“I take pictures on my screen so I can print them just so I can save some of these,” Robinson said. “I want to show them to my grandkids so I can say, ‘This is how you use a field,’”

Everything begins with Petty.

“He’s a good quarterback,” Robinson said. “He has good weapons around him. He knows how to get the ball to those guys.”

But what scares the Texas defense is his ability to make plays on the ground. He has twice as many rushing touchdowns as Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf, who torched the Longhorns on the ground with 95 yards and two touchdowns.

“I hope he’s not as good,” Robinson said. “Quite frankly, I think we helped Chelf a little bit. I’m not taking anything away from him, I think he did a nice job, but this guy has run for yardage just like Chelf has and a couple others too.”

With all the success he has had so far, Petty knows more lies ahead, and is excited for the final game of this season with possible BCS
implications.

“There are a lot of memories, a lot of high points with this season and the best part is it’s not over,” Petty said. “We got two more games. One more game that will sum up everything and I am very blessed, very humbled to be a part of it.”

And Petty isn’t leaving Waco anytime soon. The NFL will have to wait.

“I definitely will be back next year,” he said.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

QB Bryce Petty (Jr.)

Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel are garnering Heisman attention for their performances this season but Bryce Petty is putting up his own Heisman numbers. The junior signal-caller has led the explosive Baylor offense all season long, completing 62.4 percent of his passes for 3,557 yards, 28 touchdowns and only two interceptions. The Bears’ huge loss to conference foe Oklahoma State cannot be ignored but neither can Petty’s performance this season as the Baylor offense is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation, averaging just over 55 points per contest. Petty has been about as efficient as one can be while putting up video game-like numbers and keeping his team in the Big 12 title hunt at 10-1 overall heading into the game with Texas. Petty has thrown for at least two touchdowns in every game this season and has even done his part in the running game, racking up 11 touchdowns on the ground this season. If the Baylor offense is going to be contained, it will start and end with Petty.

 

RB Lache Seastrunk (Jr.)

Seastrunk is an interesting player who has finally found a home in Waco after bouncing around his first few seasons in college football. The Temple native is the leading rusher for a running game that ranks No. 11 in the nation, compiling 982 yards and 11 touchdowns on 126 carries this season. Seastrunk is a big and powerful back who can run defenders over just as easily as he can outrun them for big yardage. His 7.8 yards per carry is a staggering statistic that’s facilitated by the potent passing game of the Bears. If Texas can disrupt Petty, Seastrunk will still be there to pick up yards. The Longhorns need to limit his effectiveness to force Baylor to beat them in one way instead of two.

 

LB Bryce Hager (Jr.)

Texas will be looking to establish their run game to poke holes in the Baylor defense, one that is ranked No. 27 in the country. Bryce Hager will be the catalyst for this game plan. Hager is second on the Bears’ defense with 71 tackles despite missing two games this season. His 7.9 tackles per game are a team-high. Hager is the most complete defender on this defense, showing his ability to disrupt the passer with nine quarterback hurries and his ability to drop into coverage, evidenced by his three passes broken up. He will be around the ball the entire game and Texas has to find a way to move the ball away from his side of the field.

Quarterbacks

Case McCoy bounced back against Texas Tech, throwing for 139 yards and two touchdowns while running for another score. It was the first time since early October that McCoy had not thrown an interception. McCoy’s performance has been heavily reliant on the success of his running backs. Baylor’s No. 26 rush defense may force McCoy to step into a role he has not handled well this season. Heisman candidate Bryce Petty, who has rushed for 11 touchdowns this season, has fewer pass attempts than the Texas starters and averages 11.2 yards per attempt, the most in the country. McCoy hasn’t averaged 11.2 yards per pass attempt in any single game this year. Petty threw for 206 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in worst performance this season against TCU last week.

Advantage: Baylor

 

Running Backs

Joe Bergeron proved he could fill in for the injured Johnathan Gray with a 102-yard, one-touchdown performance in the 41-16 win over Texas Tech. Malcolm Brown supplemented Bergeron’s play with a 128-yard game, his third time topping the century mark this season. Baylor gave up 122 yards to a struggling TCU backfield and have struggled against the leading rushing teams in the Big 12, giving up 327 yards to Kansas State and 154 to Oklahoma State. Lache Seastrunk returned from a groin injury with a 92-yard first half in the 41-38 win over TCU. Seastrunk had rushed for 869 yards in just seven weeks when he went down in the first half against Oklahoma. Freshman Shock Linwood picked up the slack with back-to-back 180-yard games against the Sooners and Texas Tech. Seastrunk is healthy and again the featured back and, along with Linwood, will present the Texas defense their toughest backfield this season.

Advantage: Baylor

 

Wide Receivers

Since catching just nine passes in October, Mike Davis has totaled 315 yards and three touchdowns, two of them for more than 45 yards, in the last three games. Jaxon Shipley had been consistent before not recording a catch for the first time in his career against Texas Tech. Daje Johnson returns after serving a one-game suspension. Antwan Goodley already has more than 1,000 yards and 12 touchdown receptions on the season, averaging 20.4 yards per catch. Tevin Reese averaged 25 yards per catch before suffering a season-ending wrist injury but Levi Norwood has stepped up with 400 yards and five touchdowns in Reese’s four-week absence. Petty has plenty of explosive options with four receivers that have caught touchdown passes of more than 50 yards.

Advantage: Baylor

 

Offensive Line

Baylor, who gave up three sacks to TCU last week, has an offensive line that includes Outland Trophy finalist Cyril Richardson and that will face a Texas team that has a Big 12-best 35 sacks this year, nine of them against Texas Tech. The Longhorns have allowed the 20th-fewest sacks in the nation this year, giving up just two in their last two games. Their main concern will be establishing a run game against a defense that allows just 133 rush yards per game. Texas needs to protect McCoy well to do that.

Advantage: Texas

 

Defensive Line:

Baylor has six sacks in the last three games, three of them coming against Texas Tech. Chris McAllister leads them with 6.5 sacks this season. The Bears have the nation’s No. 26 run defense and rank No. 30 in sacks. Stopping the Texas run game will be Baylor’s main concern. The Texas defensive line provided six of the nine sacks by the Longhorn defense against Texas Tech. Senior Jackson Jeffcoat had a career-high three sacks and junior Cedric Reed tied his career-high with two. The Longhorns have mixed performances against the Big 12’s top pass protectors as Oklahoma State shut them out while Texas had three sacks against Oklahoma. Jeffcoat and Co. also face the country’s No. 11 run offense, their stiffest test since playing BYU.

Advantage: Texas

 

Linebackers

Texas held Texas Tech to its second-fewest yards this season, with Dalton Santos making six tackles, most among linebackers. 51 of the Red Raiders’ 94 rushing yards came on a 51-yard fake punt for a touchdown. Seastrunk and Linwood make for the best backfield the Longhorns have faced this year. Eddie Lackey leads the Baylor linebackers with 84 tackles on the season and has 18 tackles and 1.5 sacks in the last two games, and scored on a 54-yard interception return against TCU. Brody Trahan tied a career high with seven tackles last week against TCU. The Bears have allowed 414 rushing yards in their last three games but haven’t faced a team reliant on the run since playing Oklahoma, who ran for only 87 yards. Baylor’s linebackers will need a similar performance to keep Texas from pulling off the upset.

Advantage: Baylor

 

Defensive Backs

Texas held Texas Tech’s top-ranked pass offense to 302, almost 100 yards under their average, boosting its confidence heading into its game against Baylor, who has the nation’s No. 4 pass offense. Duke Thomas picked off his third pass of the year against the Red Raiders and will help Texas try to slow down Petty, who has thrown just two interceptions all season. Reese’s absence works in the Longhorns’ favor but Goodley will be the most dominant receiver the Longhorns have faced this year. Baylor safety Orion Stewart broke out with an 82-yard interception return for a touchdown against TCU. The Bears picked Casey Pachall off twice, increasing their season’s interception total to 15, nine of them coming in the last six games. McCoy has been turnover-prone recently, meaning a successful Baylor pass rush and rush defense could force him into uncomfortable throws and more turnovers.

Advantage: Baylor

 

Special Teams

The special teams struggles continue to pile on for Texas as Texas Tech punter Ryan Erxleben turned a fake punt into a 51-yard rushing touchdown. The Longhorns allowed a 33-yard kick return to the Red Raiders’ Jordan Davis and are now fifth-worst in the country in average kickoff return yards allowed — an improvement from the a week ago. Anthony Fera provided a silver lining, making a 49-yard field goal. Baylor’s Corey Coleman has a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and Norwood has two punt return touchdowns on the season. Both will give a struggling Texas coverage team issues and could provide the difference in the game.

Advantage: Baylor

 

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns seemed to have an answer for everything Texas Tech’s top-ranked aerial attack threw at them last Thursday.

Texas racked up a season-high nine sacks while holding the Red Raiders to roughly 100 passing yards below their season average. This week, the Longhorns face an even tougher test against Baylor’s high-powered offense and senior safety Adrian Phillips knows Texas must replicate its defensive performance on Saturday for a chance to slow down the Bears.

“We need to do the same this week,” Phillips said. ”Baylor has a great passing game, they have a great running game and we just have to be on top of it. The defense knows that, to have any chance of winning this game, we have to keep them out of our end zone.”

Baylor boasts college football’s most potent offense, leading the nation with 55.4 points per game while eclipsing the 70-point plateau on four occasions. The Bears continue to break down opposing defenses with a balanced offensive attack, as they rank fourth in the nation with 365.9 passing yards per game and 11th with an average of 269.2 yards on the ground.

At the forefront of the Baylor offense is junior quarterback Bryce Petty, a Heisman hopeful for much of the season. Petty racked up 3,557 passing yards and 28 touchdowns against just two interceptions in his first 11 games while adding 11 touchdowns on the ground.

Junior defensive end Cedric Reed believes the key to the game for the Texas defense is simple.

“Get after the quarterback,” Reed said. “These teams with the spread offense, the system is run through their quarterbacks. Once the quarterback loses confidence and you hit him a few times, everyone else will fall.”

The Longhorns must account for more than just Petty, though, as Baylor’s impressive stable of running backs continue to put up prolific numbers as well. Junior running back Lache Seastrunk leads the way with 982 rushing yards on 126 attempts, an average of 7.8 yards per carry, while freshman Shock Linwood isn’t far behind with 848 yards on the ground.

Senior cornerback Carrington Byndom realizes Baylor’s offense is among the nation’s most balanced units, and he said its up to the players to execute on every play.

“You just gotta stay on your keys,” Byndom said. “That’s something with any team with a dual threat quarterback that has the explosive power to throw the ball or to run the ball.”

Byndom furthered this, saying the Longhorns must continue to limit big plays in order to keep Baylor from racking up quick scores as they have throughout the season.

“We’ve been doing a great job of eliminating big plays for touchdowns this year, and something that Baylor does a really good job of is striking quick,” Byndom said. “They’ve had a lot of big plays throughout the year, and I think another thing for us is keeping those big plays of the board.”

The Bears enter Saturday’s game coming off of a pair of shaky performances, suffering a blowout loss to Oklahoma State two weeks ago before narrowly beating a 4-7 TCU team by three points in their last game. Despite this, the Longhorns know how dangerous Baylor’s offense can be, and their defense needs to be at its best to keep the Bears off the board and give Texas a chance to win.