The Texas Tech Red Raiders hope to pull off a second consecutive upset victory over a ranked opponent, having beaten Oklahoma State 45-35 last week to snap a two-game losing skid. Now 3-2 overall and 1-1 in Big 12 play, Tech must travel to Waco to take on the undefeated Baylor Bears.
Baylor moved into the Top 25 following its 31-12 victory at Kansas State a week ago. The Bears improved to 5-0 this year, and 2-0 in league action, keeping their conference title hopes alive. At the very least, Baylor’s next win would secure bowl eligibility.
Texas Tech at Baylor
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 12 at 4 p.m. ET
Spread: Baylor -11
When Texas Tech Has the Ball
Texas Tech lost starting quarterback Alan Bowman during its loss to Arizona in Week 3. The Red Raiders opted to start Jackson Tyner in the Big 12 opener against Oklahoma, but he quickly gave way to Jett Duffey. After a bumpy performance against the Sooners, Duffey exploded in his first start of the season last week against Oklahoma State. He completed 26-of-44 pass attempts for 424 yards and four touchdowns without an interception against the Cowboys. Duffey added 16 rushing yards and another score on five carries.
Now that the quarterback position appears to be settled for the short term (Bowman was expected to be out for six to eight weeks of action), the Red Raiders should continue to rack up yards and points. Tech has one of the deepest sets of skill position players in the Big 12, with SaRodorick Thompson, Ta’Zhawn Henry and Armand Shyne sharing carries at running back, and receivers T.J. Vasher, Erik Ezukanma and a host of others providing receiving options on the outside. In all, six players recorded at least one rushing attempt against Oklahoma State, and 11 caught passes. The offensive line has also been solid, having surrendered just four sacks, which is tied with Oklahoma for fewest in the Big 12.
But Tech has yet to face a defense as tough as Baylor’s. No team has scored more than 21 points in a game against the Bears this season, and the unit leads the Big 12 and ranks in the top 20 nationally in both scoring defense (15.4 points allowed per game) and yards allowed per play (4.49). Baylor also leads the league in yards allowed per rushing attempt (3.12), while ranking second in total defense (306.2 yards allowed per game). Defensive end James Lynch, who recorded three sacks last week against K-State, ranks second in the Big 12 with six.
When Baylor Has the Ball
It appeared for a time that Baylor might have lost its starting quarterback as well. Charlie Brewer was hurt in the fourth quarter of last week’s win over Kansas State. He left the game, was replaced by Gerry Bohanon, and did not return. However, head coach Matt Rhule said the move was “precautionary,” and Brewer is expected to start against the Red Raiders. Brewer has completed 65.5 percent of his passes for 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns with zero interceptions this season. He is one of just three quarterbacks nationally to have attempted more than 140 passes this year without being picked off.
Brewer’s top target, Denzel Mims, ranks fifth in the Big 12 in receiving (87.6 yards per game) and third in touchdown catches (5). Sophomores Tyquan Thornton (328 yards, 3 TDs) and R.J. Sneed (203 yards, 2 TDs) have stepped up to bolster the receiving corps. At running back, the Bears rely on the trio of John Lovett, JaMycal Hasty and Trestan Ebner. Lovett leads the team with 312 rushing yards and three touchdowns and has averaged an impressive 7.61 yards per carry — though not as impressive as the dynamic freshman QB Bohanon, who has gained 10.41 yards on average on just 17 rushing attempts in limited action this year.
Though the Texas Tech defense has been far from dominant — it ranks seventh in the conference and 80th in the country in yards allowed per play (5.79) — several Red Raiders defenders have stood as highly productive players. Douglas Coleman III is the nation’s leader with five interceptions, and all five have come in his last three games. Coleman snagged two picks against Arizona, one versus Oklahoma, and he twice picked off Oklahoma State QB Spencer Sanders last week (two of the five turnovers the Red Raiders forced a week ago). Jordyn Brooks leads the Big 12 in tackles (60) and tackles for a loss (10.5).
Baylor entered the polls just this week, but the Bears have played like a fringe top-10 team this season. In fact, Baylor currently ranks No. 11 in the country in Team Performance (89.41 average game grade), according to CFB Winning Edge metrics. The Bears also rank 10th in the country in net yards per play, having outgained opponents by an average of 2.5 yards per snap.
Though Duffey was exceptional against Oklahoma State, he’s still a downgrade from Bowman for the Red Raiders, and he’ll face arguably the best defense in the Big 12 this week. Assuming Brewer is fully healthy, Baylor has the offensive firepower to match Texas Tech score for score and should be able to post a few more stops defensively.