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FIRST LOOK: Texas Longhorns

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I checked just a few minutes ago, and it’s true: Texas still isn’t ranked.

Syndication: Naples Daily News Caitlyn Jordan/Naples Daily News/USA Today Network-Florida / USA TODAY NETWORK

MATCHUP: #16 Baylor Bears (6-1, 4-1) vs. UR Texas Longhorns (4-3, 2-2)
LOCATION: Waco, Texas
ODB GAME HUB: Baylor Bears vs. Texas Longhorns 2021
OPPONENT’S SB NATION BLOG: Burnt Orange Nation (BON)
TEXAS DEPTH CHART/DISCUSSION: From BON.
COLLEGEFOOTBALLDATA.COM TEAM PAGES: Baylor | UTA
WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE: UTA
GAME NOTES (INCLUDING DEPTH CHART): Here.
BAYLORBEARS.COM PREVIEW: Here.
SPREAD: Baylor -3, O/U 61
TV COVERAGE: ABC, 11 AM Saturday
UNIFORM: Maybe All. Gold. Everything? No official announcement (I think), but they’ve tweeted this combo twice in connection with this game, including today and below:

WEATHER (IN WACO): From Wunderground—High of 74 on Saturday, but this game is at 11 AM, when it should be about 62 degrees freedom units with light winds. By the end of the game it will be near 74.

Before we go any further...

Let’s Talk About Some Narratives.

Two things have happened this week following the BYU game (on the one hand) and in connection with this game (on the other) that I want to address.

First, Coach Aranda’s comments when asked about job searches. Here’s what he said so you can listen/watch and draw your own conclusions. For my take here—you had to know coming in that if he had success, this issue was going to come up. The fact that it is LSU that opened up only took it from virtually certain to inevitable. Aranda is an extraordinarily thoughtful person, so it is not surprising in the least to hear him discuss things the way he did, first by addressing his friends and former colleagues and what they’re going through and then by talking about what he has at Baylor. He is also an experienced coach at the P5 level that has dealt with speculation before and was never going to just outright dismiss it. Very, very few go the Mike Tomlin route and for good reason—unless you’re Mike Tomlin, you never really do say never.

As for how you view what he did say versus what he didn’t say, it’s all about what you want to be true. If you’re a Baylor fan, you take solace in everything great he said about Baylor, which I believe he believes and which provides a firm basis to stay here for a really long time. If you’re not, you say by not dismissing it, he more or less confirmed it. The reality is that no matter what he said—even if he had Mike Tomlin’d it—people will believe what they want. There’s no real point in worrying about it unless or until something happens, and I tend to think that by addressing it the way he did, he made it as little of a distraction as it could be to the team.

Second, the Josh Thompson thing. If you missed it yesterday, Texas senior CB Josh Thompson was asked by Texas beat reporters “where [he] would rank Baylor and its fans” (in terms of stadium atmosphere as a visiting player, I guess). It seems pretty clear after listening to the audio what he said—he called it a 3. Not third, but a 3. Then when asked a follow-up (I think by Kirk Bohls?), the conversation seems to have shifted somewhat into being a 3 “out of 10” with 10 being the most hostile (Iowa State was apparently a 10, and let me congratulate them on getting to double digits, something they have never done in wins in the history of their program). Here’s the audio. Baylor fans (including myself) immediately reacted with hostility to this, some Texas fans asked why you would give bulletin-board material like that, and then Thompson himself tweeted that he meant top 3 or third in the Big 12 (which, coincidentally, has 10 teams). The segment has apparently been removed from Texas’s video feed of the entire presser.

It is not clear to me what Thompson said in context, much less what he meant. The phrasing of the first question is different from that of the follow-up, there appears to be a gap between the two, and regardless what he actually said, only Thompson knows what he really meant. It seems like he was probably trashing our fans, but if we’re being honest, I doubt anyone in any building in Waco that matters cares even a little about this, nor should they. The only game Thompson has ever played in at McLane was in 2017 when we went 1-11, because he was injured in 2019 when they had to call a timeout with seconds to spare just to score a touchdown. He might have been right based on his experience in 2017 no matter what he said or meant!

But I will say this—if believing that a Texas corner was dragging Baylor fans makes you want to be a better, louder, more hostile (during the game) Baylor fan, I have to tell you—he was definitely talking about you, specifically. Each of you. All of you. And your dog. That’s right, your dog’s a 3. (And if not your dog, this dog.) Not out of 10, either, and not the third-best dog. You and your dog are 3s out of 25, minimum, with 25 being Iowa State and their dog. Anyway...

How Did We Get Here (In Terms of the Game, Not You, Specifically, Being a 3)?

Baylor

G Date Time Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak
G Date Time Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak
1 4-Sep-21 7:00 PM Sat Baylor Texas State Sun Belt 29 20 1 0 W 1
2 11-Sep-21 7:00 PM Sat Baylor Texas Southern Non-Major 66 7 2 0 W 2
3 18-Sep-21 3:30 PM Sat Baylor Kansas Big 12 45 7 3 0 W 3
4 25-Sep-21 3:30 PM Sat Baylor (14) Iowa State Big 12 31 29 4 0 W 4
5 2-Oct-21 7:00 PM Sat (21) Baylor (19) Oklahoma State Big 12 14 24 4 1 L 1
6 9-Oct-21 12:00 PM Sat Baylor West Virginia Big 12 45 20 5 1 W 1
7 16-Oct-21 3:30 PM Sat Baylor (19) BYU Ind 38 24 6 1 W 2

We’ve come a long way from 29-20 against Texas State.

Texas

G Date Time Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak
G Date Time Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak
1 4-Sep-21 4:30 PM Sat (21) Texas (23) Louisiana Sun Belt 38 18 1 0 W 1
2 11-Sep-21 7:00 PM Sat (15) Texas Arkansas SEC 21 40 1 1 L 1
3 18-Sep-21 8:00 PM Sat Texas Rice CUSA 58 0 2 1 W 1
4 25-Sep-21 12:00 PM Sat Texas Texas Tech Big 12 70 35 3 1 W 2
5 2-Oct-21 12:00 PM Sat Texas Texas Christian Big 12 32 27 4 1 W 3
6 9-Oct-21 12:00 PM Sat (21) Texas (6) Oklahoma Big 12 48 55 4 2 L 1
7 16-Oct-21 12:00 PM Sat (25) Texas (12) Oklahoma State Big 12 24 32 4 3 L 2

Did you notice that except for Week 1, every time Texas has been ranked this season, they lose? Maybe that should give them hope. Weird.

Advanced Stats Overview:

Baylor vs. Texas (F+)

Rk Team F+ OF+ Rk DF+ Rk FEI Rk SP+ Rk
Rk Team F+ OF+ Rk DF+ Rk FEI Rk SP+ Rk
17 Texas 1.09 1.35 11 0.37 45 0.67 8 12.7 25
19 Baylor 0.99 0.6 37 1.05 17 0.55 20 13.1 22

Oh, a twist! Yes, Texas is actually ranked higher than Baylor in combined F+, mostly because FEI really loves it some Texas, specifically their offense. Let’s look at that first.

Baylor vs. Texas (FEI)

Rk Team FEI OFEI Rk DFEI Rk NDE Rk NPD Rk NAY Rk NPP Rk ELS Rk GLS Rk ALS Rk
Rk Team FEI OFEI Rk DFEI Rk NDE Rk NPD Rk NAY Rk NPP Rk ELS Rk GLS Rk ALS Rk
8 Texas 0.67 0.95 10 0.33 36 0.75 28 0.85 27 0.037 52 0.7 41 0.93 35 2.33 25 4.03 19
20 Baylor 0.55 0.63 26 0.53 23 1.14 16 1.12 16 0.136 16 1.44 16 0.75 65 1.75 73 3.07 84

FEI, as a reminder, is drive-based whereas SP+ is play-based, and, as always, you should consult FootballOutsiders.com’s FEI page for a glossary of terms.

If we’re being honest with each other here, of the two major projection systems we like here at ODB, I tend to agree more with FEI on Baylor this season, although it (and I) whiffed hard on the Baylor-BYU matchup and how close it would be a week ago. Still, if you’re looking for a reason that the spread on this game is Baylor -3, look no further; the advanced stats love Texas’s offense, don’t love the defense, and believe the special teams are pretty ok, too. I would note that if you consider that Baylor’s Net Drive Efficiency, Net Available Yards, and Net Yards Per Play are all stellar, while Texas’s are not, it would appear a lot of this is affected by opponent adjustments and the schedule. We can get more into that stuff tomorrow, as well as what CFD.com thinks.

For Bill C’s part, he has this as Baylor 30, Texas 27. And that’s all for now!