Tech roared out to a 4-1 start but has now lost four straight games, putting their bowl hopes in jeopardy. Now the Red Raiders will need two wins in their last three games against the Bears, TCU and Texas. Won’t be easy.
The Matt Rhule era in Waco has gotten off to a Titanic-like start. Yes, I mean the BAD kind of “Titanic.” After stunning losses to Liberty and UTSA to start the season, the Bears slogged out to an 0-8 start. There have been very few highlights, but last week Baylor was finally able to get everything aligned and pick up the first win of the year, a 38-9 rout of Kansas. (Then again, playing Kansas is a good way for a Pop Warner Pee-Wee football team to get everything aligned too. But I digress.).
Baylor was able to scare the bejeezus out of both Oklahoma (No. 3 at the time) and West Virginia (No. 23) to prove it could play with just about anyone, so you could say the Bears are capable of being a dangerous team.
Oh, one more thing to keep in mind. One of the few highlights of last season’s 5-7 season for the Red Raiders was ending the bummer of a campaign on a high note with a 54-35 pasting of Baylor.
Texas Tech vs. Baylor (Arlington, Texas)
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 11 at 12 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FSN
Spread: Texas Tech -7.5
Three Things to Watch
1. The youngin’ under center
After sparking a huge rally against West Virginia two weeks ago and going 17-for-27 in relief vs. Texas, freshman QB Charlie Brewer got his first start of the season last week and whaddyaknow, he led the Bears to their first win of the season. Now he’ll go for win No. 2 and the cool, confident newbie will need to remain cool and confident as he leads BU in its second straight game away from Waco. To give the Bears a chance he’ll need to keep spreading the wealth. In the win over KU, Brewer was 23-of-29 for 315 yards, hitting 10 different receivers along the way. Sophomore wideout Denzel Mims is a prime target to keep an eye on as he now has 14 catches of 20 yards or more and seven for 40 yards or more.
2. Containing the Coutee (pronounced “Cutie”)
As is usually the case, Texas Tech is once again sporting a potent offense, averaging 507 yards a game. That’s typical of Kliff Kingsbury-coached teams. But wide receiver Keke Coutee has really been a force at times this season, including last week at Kansas State where he caught 12 passes for 189 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It was the third time this season that Coutee has recorded double-digit catches. QB Nic Shimonek has already thrown for more than 3,000 yards and hits on 69 percent of his throws, which is the third-best completion rate in the country. That’s impressive. If he and Coutee can get in a groove it should make this a back-and-forth affair that becomes anyone’s game.
3. The better defense
Yes the “D word” is almost like a four-letter word. Tech and Baylor have the Nos. 108 ;and 121-ranked defenses, giving up an average of 929 yards a game between them. Egad! So even though we keyed on Baylor’s Brewer and Tech’s Coutee above, the most important variable in this one will be which team can come up with the most stops, rare though they may be. Tech looks like it’ll be getting middle linebacker Jordyn Brooks back after missing last week with an illness. But if there is an edge out there, it’s Baylor coming off a win where it kept Kansas out of the end zone and is playing with a little more confidence. But rest assured, this is a very slight edge.
It’s a tough call as to what is going to happen here. Both are young teams and both have been decimated by injuries. Baylor has had 25 different players miss games due to injury and 10 have been lost for the year. The receiving corps has been hit hard as prime targets like Chris Platt and Pooh Stricklin have been shelved. In fact, 17 true freshmen have played for BU, which is the fourth most in all of the FBS.
But injuries be damned, this Baylor team seems to have some rejuvenation behind Brewer and his 67 percent accuracy at the controls. Both defenses for Texas Tech and Baylor are a liability, ranking No. 108 and No. 121 respectively in all of FBS. So whoever gets the hot hand here will ride the momentum to a win.
Prediction: Baylor 56, Texas Tech 49
— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.