Baylor-TCU has grown into one of the Big 12’s spicier rivalries, thanks in large measure to the frosty relationship between head coaches Gary Patterson and Art Briles. Briles’ dismissal may have dialed down some of the animosity between the Lone Star State schools, but that doesn’t mean that the quick-tempered Patterson won’t find something about the Bears to set him off soon enough.
The bad blood has helped produce a few classic matchups in recent years. The quality of play in this year’s meeting probably won’t live up to its predecessors. That doesn’t preclude the possibility of another wild installment of Bears-Horned Frogs, though.
TCU at Baylor
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 5 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FOX
Spread: Baylor -8
1. TCU’s Quarterback
Kenny Hill might take the first snaps behind center for TCU on Saturday. It also could be Foster Sawyer. Either way, both might play.
Whoever it is running the show will need to improve on his performance from a week ago versus Texas Tech. Hill and Sawyer both failed to move the ball consistently against one of the worst defenses in the country.
2. Protecting Seth Russell
Texas knocked Baylor’s quarterback around last week to the point that Russell was being evaluated for a concussion in the last couple days. Indications are that Russell will play against the Horned Frogs, but given the Bears’ depth at quarterback (or lack of), keeping him safe should be paramount for Baylor for the rest of the season. Patterson is undoubtedly drawing up some exotic blitzes to heat up Baylor’s field general.
3. Can KaVontae Turpin Contribute?
Turpin’s return has to shock anyone who witnessed the knee injury he suffered earlier this season. TCU’s game-breaker got five touches last week, and although he isn’t operating at 100 percent, he does give the offense a lift when he’s on the field. He also gives Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett one more threat to prepare for.
The biggest question in this game: How are the teams holding up mentally?
TCU looks like a team in a tailspin. The Horned Frogs have dropped three of their last four games, the only win coming in a one-point squeaker over lowly Kansas.
Meanwhile, Baylor’s coming off a disappointing loss to Texas. The Bears might not be in a great frame of mind.
TCU might look to its ground game to get its mind right. Baylor took a pounding last week from Texas and star running back D’Onta Foreman, who carried the ball 32 times for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Although the Horned Frogs don’t have a bruiser like Foreman in the backfield, TCU is expecting always-solid Kyle Hicks to return at running back this week.
Going against Baylor in Waco tends to be a losing proposition, though. In a game where it’s hard to find a definitive angle in favor of one side, the home crowd should make all the difference.
Prediction: Baylor 31, TCU 24
— 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.