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)
FIRST LOOK: TEXAS LONGHORNS
PODCASTS: OurDailyPodcast | BetweenTwoBears | J&T Want to Soak the World*
*These names are going to get worse until you come up with a real one.
TEXAS DEPTH CHART/DISCUSSION: From BON.
TEXAS PERSPECTIVE PREVIEW: How Texas Upsets Baylor (via BON)
COLLEGEFOOTBALLDATA.COM TEAM PAGES: Baylor | UTA
WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE: UTA
GAME NOTES (INCLUDING DEPTH CHART): Here.
BAYLORBEARS.COM PREVIEW: Here.
SPREAD: Baylor -2.5, O/U 61.5
TV COVERAGE: ABC, 11 AM Saturday
UNIFORM: ALL GREEN EVERYTHING!
They pulled a trickeration on us here and went with the all-green uniforms, one of our stronger looks in my opinion, and aside from the Sailor Bear aspect, it’s the same thing we wore against BYU a week ago.
OPPONENT UNIFORM: I’m going to assume all-white without looking into it at all. Post in the comments if I’m wrong, but I’d be shocked.
Let’s kick things off with a few of the more minor things:
- Ticket Sales: Once again reportedly going very well. We don’t yet have news of a student sell-out, which is typically a good barometer, but I expect we will shortly. Also, rumor has it that the problem we’ve been experiencing on the wings of the student section should be resolved much more quickly this week, if it becomes a problem at all. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, consider yourself lucky. If you need a ticket, there are plenty available on StubHub and the like, and the prices seem about in line with what you’d expect for this game.
- The Spread: Remarkably consistent for this game—it has either been Baylor -3 or Baylor -2.5 since Sunday afternoon around 3 PM and is currently -2.5 as noted above.
- Injury News: None to share from the Baylor side to my knowledge. Texas WR Jordan Whittington has been out since the Oklahoma game, and his status has not changed.
- Recruiting News: As always, I make it a practice of not stealing recruiting information from paid sites because ... it’s stealing. There are several notable names slated to attend this game, though, particularly for 2023. If you see recruits or their families, make sure to make them feel welcome at McLane!
- The Baylor Preview at BON: Worth reading, and I am being 100% genuine. Really does an excellent job of breaking things down, although I will disagree with the seeming elevation of Ebner over Smith for this game. Ebner certainly could be a difference maker, particularly on special teams, but Smith will be. Texas will see him early and often, and if they want to win, they’ll have to stop him. They could limit Ebner and still get rocked. Let Smith get to work on you, and it’s going to be a long day for the Longhorns.
- Let’s Talk About Memes (Specifically This One): Longtime followers on Twitter know I have two rules about tweeting at recruits. First, don’t do it. Second, if you have to do it, do it well. I have just one rule about memes—if you’re going to use them, do it in a way that supports your narrative/point/raison d’être. Yogi Bear is unequivocally the hero of every story he’s in that doesn’t involve fanfic I’m sure exists somewhere on the Dark Web but do not ever want to know anything more about. I cannot imagine a reason why anyone at Texas would greenlight a meme for this game that casts their opponent as Yogi and themselves as Ranger f’ing Smith. This guy, played in the 2010 live action ... film? by this guy. You know who thinks Ranger Smith is the true hero of the Yogiverse? The same kind of people that came up with a motto/ethos that simply says “We’re Texas” (of course you are; it’s your name), did not tweet for nearly 48 hours after tying the game up in the fourth quarter of the OU game (and then losing) and never posted a final score for that game, and once bragged about the highest semester GPA in team history being 2.89. In other words...
Players to Know:
I don’t know about you guys, but I found this really helpful when watching the game in person last week, so I thought I’d do it again.
- #5 Bijan Robinson—Texas’s starting RB and the straw that stirs the drink in Austin. If Breece Hall isn’t the best RB we’re likely to face this season, it’s because Robinson is. Robinson leads the Big 12 in rushing yards by 106 over Hall and 239 over Smith, albeit on 31 more carries than Smith, is tied for Smith for second in rushing TDs at 10, and is second in the Big 12 (behind Smith) in yards/carry for players with more than 100 carries. Jeff Davis speculated on Twitter the other day that Aranda may decide to just let Bijan get his and try to stop the Texas offense in other ways, but it may not matter because Bijan is probably getting his, regardless. And that includes receptions, where he is third on the team with 14 for 207 yards and 3 more TDs. If they could build the entire plane out of Bijan, they would.
- #11 Casey Thompson—Texas’s established starting QB since after the Arkansas loss, or the last 5 games. Thompson is actually #1 in the Big 12 in ESPN.com’s passer rating at 171.9, about 8.4 points better than #3 Gerry Bohanon. Thompson completes about 2⁄3 of his passes, averages 9.3 yards/attempt, and has 15 TDs against 5 INTs on the season. He has, however, taken 10 sacks this season despite not starting the first two games. If you prefer ESPN’s QBR to simple passer rating, QBR says Thompson is actually the third-worst among qualifying Big 12 starting QBs. Bohanon is the best.
- #8 Xavier Worthy—Texas’s best WR and primary deep threat. Leads the team in receptions, receiving yards, and TDs.
- #0 DeMarvion Overshown—Starting Will LB and leading tackler for Texas, just ahead of the next guy. Has recovered two fumbles and has 1.5 sacks.
- #47 Luke Brockermeyer—Starting MLB and second-leading tackler for Texas.
- #65 Jake Majors—Starting Center for Texas, and I mention him because he’ll be primarily responsible for stopping Siaki Ika. Their battles will be legendary.
- #9 Josh Thompson—Starting corner that (probably) thinks you’re garbage as a fan. And I cleaned that up a little.
Keys to the Game:
- Stop Chunk Passing Plays: I’m going to guess Aranda does not believe that a Casey Thompson-led offense can beat us absent a few huge explosive plays in the passing game. This actually could be a problem in this game for two reasons: 1) according to CollegeFootballData.com, Texas is the #12 team in the country in terms of explosiveness on passing plays, and 2) as we saw against BYU, Baylor is susceptible to big passing plays, a fact that CFD backs up ranking Baylor #40 in the country against them.
- Let Abram Smith Cook: The most carries Smith has ever had in a game was last week against BYU when he went 27 for 188 yards and 3 TDs. I hope he approaches or eclipses that mark (in all stats, but let’s talk about carries for a second) because it means the UT defensive line is having themselves a doozy of a day. And if you believe FEI’s line stats for the two teams, this seems like it could actually happen; Baylor is #7 in standard down line yards (when we love to run), #4 in opportunity rate (defined basically as “the percentage of carries in which the line does its job”), and #23 overall in line yards. The UT defense, on the other hand, is #91 in overall line yards, #95 in standard down line yards, #49 in opportunity rate, and an absolutely horrific #127 (out of 129) in power success rate. Power Success Rate represents the percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown. DO YOU THINK THE SAILGATE GAMBLER DAVE ARANDA ISN’T LOOKING AT THAT AND LICKING HIS CHOPS ABOUT GOING FOR IT ON FOURTH DOWN????
- Protect Gerry Bohanon: Thankfully, this might not be as difficult as it appears—Texas’s havoc rates are middle-of-the-pack at best, their sack rate is #105 in the country per FEI’s line stats, and their standard down sack rate is even worse at #119. Baylor’s offense, on the other hand, is #12 in total sack rate, and #2 in standard down sack rate. If we have a flaw there, it is on passing downs, where we are #71 in sack rate and Texas’s defense is #29. So, generally speaking, Texas can’t rush the passer unless it’s an obvious passing down, and we don’t give us sacks except for the same situation, so Texas needs to force obvious passing downs, and we need to avoid them. THIS IS THE KIND OF ANALYSIS YOU PAY $0/MONTH FOR, PEOPLE!
I once again surveyed certain members of Baylor Twitter for their take on this game and asked for a score prediction with absolutely zero warning. Here is what I got back:
- Peter Pope (@pbpope): Baylor 38, Texas 24.
- Kendall Kaut (@kendallkaut): Baylor 31, Texas 24.
- Travis Roeder (@travis_roeder): Baylor 38, Texas 30.
- David Fankhauser (@dfank_bu): Baylor 35, Texas 30.
- Amy Pagitt (@amygrahampagitt): Baylor 35, BYU -2.
- Jeff Davis (@penland365): Did not respond as of the time of print.
- Matt Wilson (@mattisbear): Baylor 31, Texas 24.
- Etta (@bayloretta): Baylor 24, Texas 21, and she added that Texas will do something idiotic to lose at the last minute.
There is a concept commonly (and probably incorrectly) attributed to the Israelis called the “Tenth Man Rule,” and generally, it requires that if ten people are asked a question, and nine come to the same conclusion, the tenth is honor-bound to take a contrary opinion just so all alternatives are considered, and decision-making does not devolve into group think. The reason I mention this will become clear in a minute.
We know that traditionally underperforming, underdog teams tend to get ramped up when they have the opportunity to spoil someone else’s season or show they’re not a doormat. The players often play a little harder, the coaches take the game a little more seriously, and, as with rivalry games, you can often throw the record books out the window. The plucky little guy sometimes plays over their head, laying low their supposed “betters.” They get up for these games.
If you combine these two concepts, you realize why I’m taking Texas to pull off the upset over Baylor tomorrow. I think their offense is legitimately good; they’ve put up points on just about everybody except Arkansas (and they’ve improved since that game), and the team as a whole has improved despite their second-half setbacks. It’s clear they have huge problems with adjustments—which typically means bad coaching—and their roster is a who’s-who is “Oh man, I thought that guy was going to be amazing” except Bijan, who is amazing. They’re a talented team that hasn’t played to the level of its talent, and they have a coach that is at least exceptional at scripting/game planning coming in ... just don’t expect much after that. I think this is the week when they finally put together a more complete game and take down ranked Baylor at home.
Wait, what? No, we’re winning because their defense allows bigger holes than whatever that is they installed in their stadium, and the offensive line blocks pass rushes worse than their blogs do Baylor fans.
Baylor 37, Texas 28.
Predict the outcome of tomorrow’s Baylor-Texas game.
This poll is closed
Baylor, handily (17+)
Baylor, comfortably (11-16)
Baylor, close (4-10)
Baylor, squeaks (1-3)