Somebody knows something. How else do you explain it?
Baylor has yet to lose this year, as the Bears continue to rip opposing defenses to shreds. On the other hand, opponents have messed with Texas — that underachieving defense, in particular — all year. Sounds like a route in the making.
Yet, oddsmakers are giving Baylor about a field goal in this matchup, which suggests there’s more to this game than what can be gleaned from a cursory look at the stats. Embattled Texas head coach Charlie Strong has to hope so. Otherwise, he’s just inching closer to the unemployment line.
Baylor at Texas
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 29 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: Baylor -4
1. The Spite Factor
These programs really don’t like each other. Like, at all.
That has been the case for some time, but the animosity kicked up a notch this year when Texas poached some high-profile recruits from the Bears in the summer following Art Briles’ dismissal.
If the Bears do get a chance to rub it in late in this game, they will absolutely take it.
2. Seth Russell’s Accuracy
In the two seasons since Bryce Petty graduated, the precision of Baylor’s aerial attack has fallen off. Last season, BU’s completion percentage dropped below 60 percent for the first time since 2008. It has fallen farther this season.
Russell has hung tough this year after coming back from a neck injury, but QB play simply hasn’t reached the level that the Bears became accustomed to in recent years.
3. Ball Security
The turnover battle is one of those “well, duh” factors in any football game, but the statistics to this point indicate that it’s especially important here. Baylor has 14 takeaways in 2016, which is more impressive when you consider that the Bears have done that in just six games.
For all of Texas’ faults this season, the Longhorns have done a good job taking care of the ball. They have to keep that up Saturday to have any hope of springing an upset.
Judging by their games against common opponents, Baylor and Texas are much closer than their records would indicate. For instance, Iowa State took Baylor to the wire, while UT coasted past the Cyclones in the second half of their meeting. Whereas Oklahoma State handed Baylor a win courtesy of self-inflicted errors, the Longhorns lost to the Cowboys as a result of plenty of their own self-sabotage.
Baylor also has struggled away from Waco as of late. Meanwhile, UT just seems to play tougher at home.
Texas is undoubtedly battling low morale in the back half of what has been a disappointing season. A win Saturday should lift a few spirits around Austin.
Prediction: Texas 35, Baylor 33
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.