Baylor’s final regular season game of 2018 will come the Saturday after Thanksgiving, as the Bears once again take on Texas Tech in AT&T Stadium. This game is so far out its hard to say where these teams will stand, and even if coach Kliff Kingsbury will still be coaching the team come this game (he probably has the hottest seat in the Big 12 this year besides Kansas’s David Beaty?). Still, Texas Tech looks like it is positioned to make improvements off of last season and might be able to make moves in the wide open middle of the conference.
Offensively, Texas Tech is going to Texas Tech. They’ll air the ball out a ton to a lot of talented receivers. But, there will be a lot of new faces. The Red Raiders have to replace their quarterback, running back, and four of their top five wide receivers. That’s no easy task, but Kingsbury has definitely established himself as an offensive mastermind so I can’t imagine there will be a ton of drop off. Recent reports indicate that McLane Carter is in the lead for the starting QB position at Tech. He saw some action against Texas where he looked... not great. But another year in the system ought to help him tremendously. The line remains entirely intact, with every starter returning. That ought to really help anchor down the new players.
Defense is likely where Kingsbury will either save his job or lose it. During Kingsbury’s tenure at Texas Tech, the Red Raiders have had notoriously awful defenses. However, defensive coordinator David Gibbs finally started to make some headway last season. Their improvements were in stopping big plays, making a large jump from 111th to 47th in that department. Still, there were plenty of categories that were... not great. Luckily for Tech, they return almost their entire defense, only losing one player in the front six. The ability to continue building off of last year’s improvements could help the Red Raiders out immensely.
Texas Tech is in an interesting spot this year, most people have questions about the defense (how good will they be?) even though they return most of their starters. There are less questions about the offense which replaces almost every skill position. That just shows you what kind of a team Texas Tech has been under Kingsbury. FPI actually favors Baylor against Texas Tech, giving them a 50.2% chance of winning. For two teams that will likely be right on the edge of a bowl berth, this late season game could have massive implications for the directions of these programs. This should certainly be a winnable game for the 2018 Baylor Bears.