Baylor (8-0) is the last undefeated team in the Big 12 (5-0) entering the last month of the regular season and is 12th in the initial College Football Playoff rankings that were unveiled Tuesday night. Baylor boasts some impressive wins already this season, beating Iowa State and taking down both Kansas State and Oklahoma State on the road in convincing fashion. But this week is the start of a daunting November that also includes hosting Oklahoma and Texas following this weekend's rivalry matchup.
On the flipside, TCU (4-4, 2-3) hasn't lost to its in-state rival since 2014. And, surprisingly, the Horned Frogs are only a slight underdog entering Saturday's contest despite sitting at .500 following last week's narrow loss to Oklahoma State. The good news is that the offense has started to click in recent weeks to help out a defense that ranks atop the conference in numerous statistical categories.
Baylor at TCU
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 9 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Baylor -2
When Baylor Has the Ball
It's difficult to remember a time when the Baylor offense was this balanced. It hasn't been the flashiest season for Charlie Brewer, but the junior quarterback is playing efficient football in 2019, completing 67 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns, just three interceptions and a QB rating of 166.8. Brewer has also been a threat on the ground with a team-high six rushing touchdowns.
If TCU attempts to stop the pass, the Bears can gash the Frogs in the run game as well, averaging 5.2 yards per carry as a team, third in the Big 12. Running backs JaMycal Hasty and John Lovett have combined for at least 100 rushing yards in each of the last four games and provide balance to the offense — something that was severely lacking last year.
Baylor also has the weaponry outside to make any defense pay with Denzel Mims and Tyquan Thornton, who rank fifth and sixth, respectively, in the Big 12 in receiving yards. There are really no weaknesses on this Baylor offense from a personnel standpoint.
When TCU Has the Ball
TCU’s hopes for an upset on Saturday depend on the quarterback situation, as true freshman starting quarterback Max Duggan is questionable at the moment after suffering a hand injury late in the loss to Oklahoma State last week. Head coach Gary Patterson stated Tuesday that Duggan should be able to play through the injury, but we will know for sure as the week goes along. Duggan will be needed, as backup QB Alex Delton left the team this past week and new backup Michael Collins has already been listed as out after suffering a rib injury in relief of Duggan in the Oklahoma State contest.
With the injuries at quarterback, we could see a bit more from the TCU ground game, which has been a pleasant surprise this season, ranking third in the conference at 220 yards per game with 18 rushing scores. The Horned Frogs prefer a committee approach with Sewo Olonilua and Darius Anderson splitting carries, but it’s been the former who has emerged as the preferred option the last two weeks. Room in the trenches may be difficult to come by, though, against a Baylor defense that ranks 29th nationally against the run.
Just looking at the records alone, you would think an 8-0 team would be favored by more than two points against a team that is 4-4. Perhaps the early start time, combined with Baylor being on the road against an in-state rival, has something to do with it. Statistically, these teams aren’t that dissimilar, but injuries combined with inconsistencies on offense have been the downfall for TCU in 2019. And that will be tough to overcome in this matchup against one of the better defenses in the conference. This should be a close game throughout, but the Bears will remain undefeated with a narrow victory in Fort Worth.
Prediction: Baylor 31, TCU 27
— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University. Follow him on Twitter @MBainbridgeCFF.