5/4 BAYLOR (3–0, 0–0) vs. RV/RV Texas Tech (3–1, 0–1)
Oct. 3, 2015 | 2:30 p.m. CT
Arlington, Texas | AT&T Stadium (80,000)
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OPPONENT: Texas Tech Red Raiders
ODB GAME HUB: Baylor Bears vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders 2015
MEET THE PRESS: Baylor vs. Texas Tech
FIRST LOOK: Baylor vs. Texas Tech
ROLL CALL: Baylor vs. Texas Tech
ADVANCED STATS: Line Play
SB NATION BLOG: Viva The Matadors, at right
SPREAD: Baylor –17 (Open: Baylor –15.5)
TV COVERAGE: ABC/ESPN2, 2:30 p.m. CDT
WEATHER FORECAST: It’s Jerry World, so rain, shine, or otherwise, it’ll be dry and climate-controlled indoors.
BAYLOR UNIFORMS: GUNMETAL GREY, BOYS AND GIRLS.
Baylor -- RB Devin Chafin (QUESTIONABLE), WR Davion Hall (PROBABLE), DT Byron Bonds (PROBABLE)
Texas Tech* -- QB Pat Mahomes (PROBABLE**), S Derrick Dixon (OUT), CB Jalen Barnes (OUT), WR Ian Sadler (QUESTIONABLE).
*Injury reports for college teams are notoriously difficult to find, so I'm mostly relying on Sports-Reference's list. If you see someone that should be added to this list, please tell me in the comments.
**Mahomes, as you probably know, was injured in Texas Tech's last game against TCU, but finished the game in courageous fashion. I've taken the position that I bet he plays this week, despite a relative lack of evidence as to his condition. But I bet he plays.
The Return of Trevor Clemons-Valdez
Guess what, TCV is back! In
Pog TE form! Yup, the former scholarship DT is now a walk-on TE after returning to the team this week in a move that I honestly didn't even know was possible. It's an open question what kind of shape he'll be in to play this week, if they even dress him out, or how he'll handle his new position. All I can offer you is a shrugging emoticon: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
If you haven't checked out Peter's Advanced Stats post from this week (linked above) focusing solely on the respective offensive and defensive lines for Baylor and Texas Tech, I highly encourage you to do so. Those stats are still relatively new and absolutely fascinating to see put into action. As for the 35000-foot level...
Before any Tech fans freak out, the EDGE category here is entirely arbitrary. 0-10 ranking spots different = EVEN. 11-40 = Standard Case for whichever team. 41+ = ALL CAPS for that team. See?
Without individualized offensive/defensive stats for FEI, we're still not playing with what I'd call a full deck in terms of advanced statistics. Soon, my pets. Soon. But we do have all of Bill C's S&P+ metrics, which tend to bill this as a game involving one good team (Baylor) against one that is mostly average (Texas Tech). Bill's stats don't love Baylor this year yet, which is somewhat understandable, and they seem to think the teams are actually pretty similar. Here's what I mean:
Baylor: #1 Offense (by S&P+), #94 Defense
Texas Tech: #2 Offense, #118 Defense
Texas Tech is basically Baylor Lite-- or 2011 Baylor*** if you want to go further-- in that they're all about the offense with a terrible defense. 2015 Baylor is basically 2013 Baylor at this point. That's what you can tell people if they ask "Can you equate these two teams in terms of which year Baylor they are?"
***Texas Tech fans who read this might think "Wait, didn't that team have a Heisman Trophy winner on it?" Yes, it did. It also wasn't all that terrible defensively by S&P+ (at least not as terrible as 2015 Tech). Really, 2015 Baylor actually seems more like 2011 Baylor than 2015 Tech does, but I don't have a lot of good options for otherwise comparing these teams to previous versions of Baylor, so there it is.
Players to Watch (for Texas Tech):
This is probably going to be the most obvious list of the year until we get to TCU.
#5 QB Pat Mahomes -- Despite the fact that he's only 7th in the Big 12 in QB rating among starting QBs (mostly because of his relatively low yards/attempt), Mahomes is really good, you guys. If you don't remember, he threw for about 15 TDs on us last year in this game, and all he's done this season is put up 1400+ yards passing with 11 TDs and 3 INTs, to go along with 165 yards and 5 TDs rushing.
Tech fans would probably tell you that the biggest difference between Mahomes and his backup, Davis Webb, is the latter's inability to read zone defenses. Since we don't play all that much zone with our corners, the biggest difference for our purposes is the ability to run the football. If he's healthy, Mahomes is a legitimate threat on designed running plays or as a scrambler. We've already seen both of those things be a problem for our defense in getting off the field. Again, if he's healthy (and that's a big if at this point), Mahomes is the best QB we will have played this season. I say it every week in this space, but our guys absolutely have to keep containment on the QB and know their responsibilities. Thankfully, with Taylor Young back at the OLB spot, we should be able to do that better than before. Key word: should.
#11 WR Jakeem Grant -- Probably the Tech offensive player that scares me most because of the potential match-up of Grant with our linebackers and safeties out of the slot. So far this season, the diminutive Grant has 29 catches for 413 yards and 2 TDs. That's nearly 2x as many catches as the next-highest receiver for Tech (Ian Sadler, who may be out this week) and more than 2x as many as the next two (Devin Lauderdale and Reginald Davis). My biggest fear is Grant matched up with an inexperienced Chance Waz, although that's probably better than what would have otherwise been my biggest fear: Grant matched up with Terrell Burt.
#21 RB DeAndre Washington -- Hold the phone, you guys. Tech has a RB who is averaging 8.2 yards per carry and actually leads the Big 12 in rushing yards. Now, sure, part of that is that Washington has played 4 games to Shock Linwood's 3 (Linwood is third on the conference list, 112 yards behind Washington), but the point remains that Washington is really good, and they're actually much more balanced than they've been in previous years.
#18 Micah Awe / #40 Dakota Allen -- Listed as the 1-2 at MLB on the latest Tech depth chart, Awe and Allen lead the team with tackles with 34 apiece. They also have 1.5 and 2.0 tackles for loss, respectively. Keep an eye on those two along with rush end #10 Pete Robertson, who leads the team in tackles for loss with 4.
What I'll Be Watching For:
Baylor's Pass Protection -- I hadn't realized before looking at their stats this year that Texas Tech has a grand total of 3 sacks through 4 games. That contributes to their atrocious defensive line stats, as Peter talked about in his post, and considering Seth Russell has taken a grand total of 1 sack on this season, represents a place where Baylor should have a lot of success. If the line can keep Seth clean or mostly clean for the game, Tech's chances of stopping our offense consistently vanish. Given enough time, Seth will find one of our fleet-footed WRs open somewhere on the field or just take off and run himself.
Time to Step Up, Chance Waz! I mentioned this above and will mention it again here: Texas Tech is going to try to attack our safeties. They've done it before, and they'll do it again. That is a guarantee. Chance Waz better be ready to play tomorrow against Grant, Sadler (if he plays), or Lauderdale (who I think mostly plays outside, but whatever).
RUN THE FOOTBALL -- Through four games, Texas Tech has allowed 1019 rushing yards, or 254.8 per game. That's 122nd (sixth-worst) in the entire country. And before they point to the fact that they played Arkansas, that game actually brought down their average. The real damage was done by Sam Houston State (317 yards) and TCU (247 yards), two teams not exactly known as dominant rushing attacks.
Even without Devin Chafin at the big back spot, Baylor should be able to run all over this Texas Tech defense with Shock Linwood, Johnny Jefferson, and Terence Williams, not to mention Seth Russell, should we decide to take off his shackles like he's the genie in Aladdin.
Defensive Containment -- Duh. This will be easier if Mahomes is limited in any way by his injury, but it's still extremely important. Our guys can't just try to take the easiest path to the QB every time; they'll get burned.
Like last week, I already made known through the podcast that I'm taking Baylor to cover. Given the state of Texas Tech's defense, the only real way they stop us consistently is through turnovers. They may have some hope in that regard given that it is their new DC's specialty, and the fact that just one game ago, Seth Russell turned the ball over 3 times to Lamar. Even still, I expect that Baylor will score 55+ points in basically perfect conditions at AT&T Stadium.
I'm not going to do individual predictions this week because that's so speculative. Last week, I was just feeling more adventurous, I guess.
Last week marked my first significant departure from predicting Baylor's offensive output, and it was still just 7 points. This week, I'm going to stick with my prediction that Baylor wins and covers and say:
Final Score: Baylor 59, Texas Tech 38.
So take the over, is what I'm saying.
Give me your predictions in the comments and vote in the poll!