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Baylor Falls to Duke 40-27

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A terrible first half dooms the Bears

NCAA Football: Duke at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After falling behind 23-0 at halftime, Baylor couldn’t muster enough in the second half to beat Duke. The Blue Devils won 40-27. Baylor is now 2-1. The Bears take on Kansas at 2:30 next Saturday at McLane Stadium. That will air on FS1.

The first half started poorly. John Lovett fumbled, and Duke proceeded to score on 3rd and 7. The Bears had only three down defensive linemen and nobody defending the “B” gap on that play. The Blue Devils ran right through it for a touchdown.

The first half didn’t get any better. Jalen Hurd—really the only guy who could consistently get open in the first half—had too many drops. He missed three targets. Jalan McClendon came in on the third drive and later left the game with an ankle injury. He returned in the third quarter.

Duke’s backup quarterback, Quentin Harris, started the game 1-of-8. He connected on his next four attempts, including a wide open touchdown strike. He added another touchdown before halftime. Two Baylor defensive backs tried to tackle Duke’s wide receiver but couldn’t.

Baylor’s early season problems doomed them against Duke. Baylor could handle missing tackles against ACU and UTSA. They couldn’t against Duke. They missed tackles and looked in the backfield on passes. The offensive line couldn’t get a push, and the Bears didn’t even try and run up the middle much. When they did on a 3rd and 3 play, JaMycal Hasty was met behind the line of scrimmage immediately.

The Bears had more miscues. They used two timeouts in the first 16 minutes. Once to figure out a 3rd and 1 play, and another time to avoid a delay game of penalty. Connor Martin had two 47 yard attempts. He missed his first kick wide, and the second one was blocked. That wasn’t even close to his fault. The offensive line—as it has so often—failed to slow down Duke’s defensive rush.

The second half started better. Charlie Brewer hit TyQuan Thornton for a 39 yard grab. Thornton secured the ball over the back of Duke’s cornerback. A few plays later, Brewer ran it into the end-zone for a touchdown.

Baylor didn’t let a botched snap on an extra point destroy them on their next series. They blocked Duke’s punt, and Hasty ran the block back for a touchdown. With 6:39 left in the 3rd quarter, Baylor trailed just 23-13.

Once again, Baylor made too many mistakes. Harris ran a QB draw and was only stopped because he ran into his tight end. The Bears gave up several third down plays on drive, including a fade for a touchdown on 3rd and goal. Baylor’s secondary loves to watch the backfield, and they paid for it.

McClendon returned to the game, and Baylor desperately needed a touchdown. They didn’t get one. He faced incredible pressure on every play. The Bears’ offensive line is just not close to good enough. On his first drive, the team went three and out. On his second drive, he picked up a nice first down on 3rd and long and ran a nice option play.

For some reason, Baylor took quite a bit of time on their next series. They ran the clock down and ran quite a bit. Down 17 in the fourth quarter, time is not an ally. But credit to McClendon for finding Thornton again for a touchdown. Baylor trailed 30-20 with 9:44 left. The freshman wide receiver was Baylor’s best offensive player today. David Smoak of ESPN 1660 reported that a Baylor staffer told him Mims was out with an injury. He was suited up on the sideline all game, so I’m not sure what’s going on (I certainly trust Smoak’s reporting what he’s found out. He’s one of the best in the business. I just don’t know what exactly is going on with Mims).

Yet again, Baylor couldn’t get enough third down stops. Duke had 3rd and 3 with 8:20 left and gained 25 yards on a jet sweep. James Lynch—easily Baylor’s best defensive player—overran the play and Duke kept draining the clock. When Baylor finally stopped a Duke run, Bravion Roy picked up a personal foul for picking up Duke’s running back and throwing him to the ground. Duke kicked a field goal and led 33-20 with 5:12 left.

McClendon took over and threw a pick six. That removed any doubt about the outcome. Brewer added one more touchdown on his next drive. Then Duke recovered an onside kick, gained a first down and secured the victory.

Despite Kansas destroying Rutgers today, the Jayhawks are terrible. Baylor has no business losing to Kansas next week. But the Bears had stretches today were they looked capable of losing to anyone. They also had a very brief run were they looked like a pretty good team. There will be no way to spin a loss next week though. Baylor has to beat Kansas.