The magic in Magic Kingdom did not travel home with the Baylor Bears. In a game that many of us were hoping would show Baylor had turned a corner for the season did anything but. Tech dominated the trenches on both sides of the ball and rushed their way to a 39-14 victory.
Each team’s opening drive was indicative of how the rest of the game was going to go. Tech’s offense took the field first, and to the surprise of nobody but Baylor’s coaches, Taj Brooks rushed the ball on three straight plays, picked up a fourth down conversion on a sixteen yard run, and sat back while Behren Morton finished off the drive with a thirteen yard touchdown pass to Coy Eakin.
On their opening touchdown drive, Texas Tech ran the ball 7 times at 7.9 yards per play. Just marched it down Baylor's throats.— Travis Roeder (@Travis_Roeder) October 8, 2023
Baylor responded with some nice passing plays to Monaray Baldwin, Hal Presley, and Drake Dabney before stalling out with consecutive runs for minimal gains by Richard Reese. Not to be outdone, Baylor also attempted a fourth down conversion, which ended with Shapen throwing the ball into the ground with a defender in his face. Spoiler: this would happen a lot.
On the next drive, Tech went three and out. Thank Offensive Coordinator Zach Kittley for deciding to call back-to-back pass plays. Baylor had slightly more success, picking up a first down with a ten yard pass to Drake Dabney, but had to punt the ball following a sack.
Tech's Steve Linton just totally blew by Baylor's Campbell Barrington for the third-down sack. Bears to punt.— Brice Cherry (@BriceCherry) October 8, 2023
Offensive line hasn't looked great, particularly from a run-blocking perspective. Or that passing situation there.
As the first quarter ended and the second began, Tech remembered that Tahj Brooks was the best player on the field and simply handed the ball to him four straight plays for 33 yards. With a sense of déjà vu, Morton finished the drive with a sixteen yard touchdown pass, this time to Baylor Cupp (a traitor to his name). Caden Jenkins was in a decent position to defend the pass, by Cupp had the height to make the play.
Tech scores another TD to make it 14-0 with 13:06 to go in the second quarter. If you were hoping last week was a turning point, you are wrong so far.— ODB (@OurDailyBears) October 8, 2023
Down two scores, it felt like this was make or break time for Baylor to get some momentum going. Their next plays were, in order, a broken up pass to Richard Reese that Tech saw coming from the snap, a handoff to the aforementioned Reese for one yard, and an incomplete pass deep downfield to Ketron Jackson Jr. Once again, we handed Tech excellent field position.
Tech dominating field possession. Besides the opening kickoff, their three drives have started at TTU 41, 41 and now 47.— Craig Smoak (@CraigSmoak) October 8, 2023
Tech didn’t have a chance to capitalize, though, as Brooks fumbled on the next play. Devyn Bobby had an excellent hit on the ball, and Garmon Randolph recovered. Unfortunately, the Bears really needed a scoop-and-score. A 44 yard reception by Nabors on a wheel route was followed up by two negative plays, and Baylor had to settle for a 33-yard field goal.
That now makes it seven straight red zone drives at McLane Stadium without a touchdown for the Baylor offense.— Eric Kelly (@EricKellyTV) October 8, 2023
An offensive pass interference penalty killed Tech’s next possession before it ever got started. Could Baylor build on their first scoring drive of the game and start mounting a comeback? Eh...no. Shapen was constantly under pressure, and on their own 42, went for a fourth down conversion with a pitch to Richardson that lost three yards.
Terrible play call by Baylor. Fourth and 1 in its end of the field. Line up in shotgun, try to go wide right with pitch and get stuffed. Just horrendous. OL can’t move anybody backward and Grimes makes that call. Preposterous!— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) October 8, 2023
With less than 2 minutes left in the first half, Baylor's offense is at a horrendous 27% offensive success rate and 3.77 yards per play. About as bad as it gets, against a thoroughly average defense.— Travis Roeder (@Travis_Roeder) October 8, 2023
Somehow, with 3:07 left in the half, there would still be three more possessions. Cam’Ron Valdez subbed in for Brooks and recorded some nice runs, but he would ultimately be called half a yard short on a fourth down conversion attempt. Don’t get too excited. Baylor fumbled the ball four plays later. Some say our offensive linemen are still staring at the ball as it sits on the ground.
Baylor averaging a clean .1 yards per rush, which is reliably nonviolent.— ODB (@OurDailyBears) October 8, 2023
Mercifully the half ended with Texas Tech settling for a field goal at the Baylor 19. In some regards, the teams looked fairly equal. Baylor had 117 passing yards to Tech’s 97. Time of possession was roughly the same. Baylor was 3-8 on third down while Tech was 3-9. Each had a fumble. In one particular stat, however, the gap between the teams couldn’t be more obvious. Tech had 117 rushing yards (5.3 yards per carry). Baylor had 3. Not 3 yards per carry. 3 yards. 0.2 per carry because Grimes insisted on running into a brick wall for thirty minutes. Halftime score: Texas Tech 17, Baylor 3.
The second half began with a glimmer of hope. On 3rd and 4, Shapen hit Monaray Baldwin, who at this point had one reception for -2 yards, on a 34 yard bomb. Four plays later, at Tech’s 35 yard line, we once again found ourselves at 4th and short. The snap appeared to be bobbled, and Shapen’s QB sneak resulted in a fumble.
Baylor with possibly the worst QB sneak of all time— Joe Goodman (@the_joe_goodman) October 8, 2023
In one of many acts of magnanimity by Tech, Morten threw an interception on the very next play to the MVP of last week, Caden Jenkins. Aaaaaaand Shapen immediately got sacked. Aaaaaaand we failed another fourth down conversion attempt (four in a row, for those counting at home). To be fair, this ended up being Baylor’s longest drive of the game at 10 plays, so some good things happened in between the sack and turnover on downs, including a 12 yard run by Dawson Pendergrass.
Baylor's redzone woes are just killing them. 0 for their last 8 in getting a touchdown. No points there.— BearsIllustrated (@BaylorBears247) October 8, 2023
Texas Tech responded with their longest drive of the game at 13 plays for 85 yards over the course of 6 1⁄2 minutes. Unlike Baylor, Tech was still running the ball with ease. Brooks reached 100 yards during this drive, his fourth straight game with over 100 yards. Also unlike Baylor, Tech scored. Morton’s third touchdown pass, an 18 yarder to Cupp, set a career high.
Way too easy for Tech once again. A statement drive for them, 13-plays and 85 yards. Bears once again digging a massive hole.— BearsIllustrated (@BaylorBears247) October 8, 2023
Down 24-3, it looked like Baylor would need another miracle to win this one. And after Monaray Baldwin took a 71 yard reception to the house, it looked like we might have one. A successful two point conversion narrowed the gap to 13. All we needed was the defense to get another stop and keep the dream alive.
Myles Price and Tahj Brooks had different plans. 9 plays, 65 yards, and 4:19 off the clock, including a 20 yard reception by Price and 18 yard touchdown run by Brooks, all but sealed the game. Baylor had one good play left in them — a 39 catch and run by Baldwin — but three negative plays in a row left Baylor kicking a consolation field goal. For good measure, Baylor had one last fourth down conversion attempt to fail, and Morton had another touchdown to add to his total.
Tech ended the game 10-18 on third down and 1-2 on fourth down. Baylor struggled with 4-15 on third and 1-6 on fourth. Total yards were fairly equal, exclusively due to Shapen’s 324 yard performance; however, there was no way Baylor was going to win getting outrushed 188 yards to 17. As predicted, all Tech had to do was hand the ball off to Brooks, which they happily did 31 times.
Other standouts this game include Myles Price with 90 yards on ten receptions (no one else had more than two for Tech), and Monaray Baldwin with 126 yards on five receptions. Defensively, Steven Linton and Charles Esters III created havoc all night with two sacks a piece. Ben Roberts led the Red Raiders with seven tackles and two TFLs. As a team, Tech registered six sacks and eleven TFLs. Baylor had one and two, respectively.
I don’t know where this team goes from here. Texas Tech isn’t a bad team per se, but they will likely finish in the middle of the conference, and they just embarrassed at home. Something needs to change in Waco, and we have two weeks to figure it out.