Baylor vs. Texas Preview / Prediction / Poll Thread

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Bears vs Longhorns for (potentially) all the Tostitos and definitely a share of the Big 12 Championship. Predict away!

vs.
9/7/9 BAYLOR (10-1, 7-1) vs. 23/24/25 TEXAS (8-3, 7-1)
Dec. 7, 2013 | 2:30 p.m. CT
Waco, Texas | Floyd Casey Stadium (50,000)

TV: FOX
Listen | GametrackerGametracker | Game Notes Notes | In-Game BlogSportStream | Gameday Central

ODB Game Hub: Baylor Bears vs. Texas Longhorns 2013
Official Hype Video: "Home Field"
Stats Preview:
Baylor vs. Texas By the Numbers
First Look: Texas Longhorns
SB Nation Blogs: Barking Carnival | Burnt Orange Nation
Spread: Baylor -15
TV Coverage: FOX
WEATHER FORECAST: Cloudy. High 33F. Winds NNE at 10 to 20 mph.
BAYLOR UNIFORMS: Throwback

SB Nation Texas Preview: Survive, Then Thrive
BaylorBears.com Preview: Case Closed!

Student Tickets: Gone!

After this morning's hype video and all the build-up this week, including the latest news about the send-off Baylor is planning for Floyd Casey, I could not be more ready for this game.

Injury News:

Baylor -- Tevin Reese (OUT), Spencer Drango (OUT), Bryce Hager (Day-to-day, unknown, doubt he plays), Lache Seastrunk (WILL PLAY), Glasco Martin (WILL PLAY). K.J. Morton (WILL PLAY)

Texas -- All of the following guys are OUT: QB David Ash, RB Johnathan Gray, OT Josh Cochran, LB Steve Edmond, LB Tevin Jackson, LB Jordan Hicks, DT Chris Whaley, CB Sheroid Evans. The following WILL PLAY: CB Carrington Byndom, WR/RB Daje Johnson.

Statmilk Infographic:

Thoughts on the Game:

While writing this, there is a huge gap between the infographic and this portion that probably shouldn't be there. I'm going to blame the awesome infographic for it and just move on.

At this point, it seems like both fanbases have covered fairly well most of the exigent factors for the two teams in this game. Baylor fans, having seen two consecutive poor performances from the offense, are at least somewhat hesitant to predict a breakout on Saturday. Texas fans are seemingly caught in a struggle between wanting their team to win and not wanting it to mean that Mack Brown stays with a share of the Big 12 Championship. They also fear that the sleeping giant that is our offense will finally awaken. Both sides wonder how Casey McCoy and company will perform against a Baylor defense that has definitely improved this season but struggled in many respects against TCU. In the background are questions that are innately hard to predict like the weather and effects on both teams of what should be a raucous Baylor crowd for the finale at Floyd Casey Stadium. Despite a combined 22 games played, I could argue that what we don't know about Baylor and Texas outweighs what we do, especially considering both teams have been ravaged by injuries of late.

Still, recognizing that the information in front of us is neither complete nor perfect, there are a few things we can probably look at with some degree of certainty.

  • First, Baylor is coming home for the first time since we walloped Oklahoma on that wonderful Thursday night in November. The Bears are almost undoubtedly a better team on both sides of the ball within the friendly confines of Floyd Casey than we are without. Even with the cold weather dampening things a bit, Saturday's should be the best crowd in Floyd Casey Stadium history.
  • Second, the Texas offense as currently constructed relies heavily on the run and taking the ball out of Case McCoy's hands as often as possible. It's hard to know if the correlation between dominant team performances (OU, KU, TCU, TT) and strong rushing games is more than coincidence or the natural course of football (teams ahead tend to run more), but given where the majority of Texas' elite talent is on offense, it's entirely logical to say that Texas would rather run than pass. This actually makes me somewhat happier, since I believe our defense is more capable of stopping them from doing so, especially without Ahmad Dixon for the first half.
  • Third, the strength of the Texas defense is clearly the defensive line. Cedric Reed and Jackson Jeffcoat are probably the two best DEs that will play in this game and both play for the Longhorns. That makes the performance of our offensive line, which has done some mixing and matching in recent weeks to try to make up for the loss of Drango at LT, critical. Texas will attempt to make us as one-dimensional as possible by taking away the run. They will then follow the OSU/TCU blueprint of physical play against our wide receivers, Antwan Goodley in particular, in order to buy those DEs time to find Bryce Petty in the pocket. Since Manny Diaz left, the Longhorns haven't stunted or blitzed as much as they did, but after seeing what TCU was able to do with an extremely aggressive front four last week, they might.
  • Fourth, the more I come back to it, the more I think that Bryce Petty's ability to run the ball on the read option will be of paramount importance in this game. His doing so keeps the Texas DEs from crashing inside to stop our interior running game or punishes them if they keep doing it. Having Lache and Glasco back in even more expanded roles from last week will also hopefully keep out offense balanced.
  • Fifth, K.J. Morton is back! That may not actually be that huge of a deal, but he's become a huge fan favorite this year, and it's always better to see players healthy than injured. #RespectforKJ

My Prediction:

This piece is a lot shorter today than it has been in past weeks. If that bothers you, I'm sorry. We've talked a lot about this game both on the blog and in the podcast, and I just don't have that much more to say. Altogether, I'm confident that Baylor will win and do so comfortably. When the numbers tell me that Baylor's offense > Texas' defense and Baylor's defense > Texas' offense, I believe them. Because of the weather, however, I have a hard time saying that this will be a blowout, so a spread of fifteen points scares me a bit. I've gone back and forth on whether Baylor covers probably 10 times while writing this post. The atmosphere will be so charged, the team and its fans so ready to finish successfully the best season in modern Baylor history and send Floyd Casey off in style ... it's extremely difficult for me to see anything other than Baylor's 11th victory of the year.

With the weather in mind, I'll go on record predicting that Baylor's running game carries the load for the offense. Lache gets another 20+ carry game, his second ever after last week, and the combination of Glasco and Rashodrick Linwood will get 20 more. Petty, for the reasons I've said, will also probably get 10 or so carries of his own. We'll still pass a bit to keep the Texas defense honest, but it won't be the focal point. This game will be won or lost on the ground.

Final Score: Baylor 38, Texas 24.

Give me your predictions in the comments and vote in the poll! Also, if you feel like it, give me your prediction for who wins the OU/OSU game in Stillwater!

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