When Baylor and Texas Tech meet on Saturday in Arlington you’ll be watching two teams who started the season in vastly different ways. Baylor has started the season 3-0 as expected. Texas Tech’s outlook wasn’t as high, but comes into the game with a record of 3-1 after having traveled to Arkansas to dispatch the Razorbacks before losing a thrilling game at home to TCU last weekend.
Texas Tech is battle tested, but could be emotionally exhausted, while Baylor is coming off a pasting of Rice at home. Let’s look at the matchup.
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 3rd @ 2:30 PM CST
WHERE: AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
FORECAST: Sunny, Wind 8 mph, Game Temp 77°F
TV: ABC/ESPN2/ WatchESPN
BETTING LINE: Baylor -17 (O/U 88.5)
TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS
If at the start of this season you had told most Red Raiders fans that their team would be 3-1 going into the Baylor game, they would have taken it without hesitation. Although being a tipped ball away from 4-0 with a win over the Big 12 favorites can be heartbreaking. And as good as the season started, after the loss there’s suddenly questions around Texas Tech. Will super sophomore quarterback be healthy enough to play after getting banged up, or will it be Davis Webb at the helm? Can the defense keep giving up huge amounts of yardage and still keep Tech in the game? Is there anything left in the emotional gas tank after two weeks of highly emotional play? We will have all of our questions answered about what this Texas Tech team is made of by early Saturday evening.
KEY PLAYERS FOR TEXAS TECH
Pete Robertson – Texas Tech has to get pressure on Baylor QB Seth Russell in order for the team to have success this Saturday. The Red Raiders ability to create pressure is directly linked to how well Pete Robertson does off the edge. So far this season Robertson has recorded one sack to go along with three quarterback hurries and four tackles for loss. The Red Raiders will need a break out game from their best defender if they’re going to keep Baylor from running away with this game.
Patrick Mahomes/Davis Webb – I’m taking a page from Kliff Kingsbury’s play book and being cryptic about who to look out for at quarterback for the Red Raiders on Saturday. Whoever Kliff chooses to start on Saturday will have the unenviable job of trying to out score a Baylor team that currently averages 64 points per game which leads all of FBS. Davis Webb has the experience and knowledge of the offense to serve as a good substitute should Mahomes not be able to go on Saturday. My guess is that Mahomes gets the start this week, I just can’t see coach Kingsbury going with Webb after watching Mahomes limp up and down the field against TCU while Webb was still on the sideline. In either case you have assume that Tech won’t have quite as big of a running threat at quarterback this weekend.
DeAndre Washington – Red Raider fans haven’t been this excited about a running back in several years and they’re excited for good reason. Washington has already surpassed his rushing touchdown total of two from last season with five so far this season. With 475 yards rushing so far this year he’s almost halfway to his rushing total of 1103 yards from last season, keep in mind Washington has at least eight games left on the schedule. In a game where the Red Raiders will either have a hampered starting quarterback or back up playing there is no better safety blanket than DeAndre Washington.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Run The Ball – The Red Raiders need to feed DeAndre Washington with a steady amount of carries as he hasn’t been slowed down by a single defense this year. It also helps to have Justin Stockton available to scorch the edges with the change of pace that he brings to the table. There is no doubt that Texas Tech still likes to throw the ball as much as anyone else however when you have the star power in the backfield that the Red Raiders do you need to use it to your advantage.
Minimize Mistakes – To the coaching staff’s credit Texas Tech has minimized the drive killing turnovers and penalties that plagued them for the first two years of Kliff Kingsbury’s tenure. This game would be the worst time possible for those issues to raise their ugly head. It’s going to take a huge effort on all sides for Texas Tech to stay in this game and they can’t afford to make things more difficult with stupid mistakes, leave that to the other team.
Bend But Don’t Break – The statistics for yards given up are not very pretty for Texas Tech, they currently have the 123rd ranked defense based on yards per game. However when you watch the games you see a defense that does enough to give their team an opportunity to win each and every game. The Red Raider defense came up big on several late drives and are a toe step away from having stopped TCU on a fourth down goal line stand which would have made them heroes. This week will require a better effort and more containment of the Bear’s best receivers.
WHAT RED RAIDER FANS WANT TO SEE
The Red Raiders need to come out and do a few things early in order to put aside any thoughts of a hangover from last week’s loss to TCU. The defense will need to step again and hold the Baylor offense in check as much as possible, no one should expect for them to shut down Baylor just make a few key stops to keep the team in the game. With a healthy Mahomes a quick start and a few key breaks Red Raider fans could be looking at another last-minute nail biter, except this time they’ll want to see their team finish the game with a victory.
Last weekend Baylor curb stomped a decent Rice team 70-17. Bears starting quarterback Seth Russell completed 12 of his 16 passes for 277 yards and an astounding six touchdowns. Even more astounding is the fact that Baylor ran the ball 53 times for 427 yards which was the main driver in the Bears amassing 793 yards of offense. While Bears offense was mauling the Owls defense the Bears defense also had a match up of their own to dominate. The Baylor defense stood strong while allowing 152 yards passing and 94 rushing yards on 45 attempts which works out to 2.1 yards per carry.
From the evidence just presented it’s pretty clear that Baylor was clicking on both sides of the ball. Having heard enough all off-season and the first four weeks of this season about the cupcakes they’ve been playing you can bet that the Bears will be ready to feast on a better opponent. Texas Tech presents a better challenge than Rice did last week and you can bet that Art Briles and company haven’t forgotten last years close game in Arlington. The Red Raiders will have the Bears full attention this week and that could be a bad thing for the boys from Lubbock.
BAYLOR PLAYERS TO WATCH
Seth Russell – Seth Russell has done a more than adequate job taking on the role as Baylor’s starting quarterback. Through three games he has thrown for 995 yards with 15 touchdowns and he’s added 91 yards with his legs including a rushing touchdown. Russell doesn’t have to be special this weekend he just has to rely on the weapons around him to get the job done.
Corey Coleman – Will this be a version of anything you can do I can do better between Josh Doctson and Corey Coleman? It’s Coleman’s turn to pile up the stats against a Texas Tech defense that never could figure out how to slow down TCU’s main receiver last week. Baylor’s leading receiver already has 17 receptions for 470 yards (27.1 yard average) to go along with eight touchdowns. Bears fans should be giddy about this match up.
Jamal Palmer – Andrew Billings and Shawn Oakman are the big names on the Baylor defense which makes Jamal Palmer’s job easier. The senior defensive end will need to take advantage of the lack of attention and get to Texas Tech’s quarterback. If Palmer takes advantage of his opportunities this could be a breakout game for him.
BAYLOR’S KEYS TO THE GAME
Just Be Yourself – The Bears need to play their game and not worry about what Texas Tech is going to do on either sides of the ball. Even if they get into a shootout Baylor has the depth and talent to run Texas Tech off the field.
Put Them Away Early – If Baylor can get out to a quick start with a two score lead the Red Raiders might crumble after the emotion of the last two weeks. This Red Raider team isn’t going to lose 82-27 the way they lost to TCU last year but after two emotional games Baylor will take advantage of the Red Raiders fatigue and put them away early.
No Turnovers – Texas Tech will need a couple of mistakes from the Bears to stick around and turnovers are the mistakes that are most likely to derail Baylor. Seth Russell has thrown four interceptions already this season which is something he’ll have to limit against a Red Raider team that can take advantage of those types of mistakes quickly.
WHAT BAYLOR FANS WANT TO SEE
A continuation of last weekends game against Rice would make most Bears fans happy. This is Baylor’s first real test and as TCU found out last weekend even a wounded Texas Tech team can still put up big numbers on the scoreboard. The Baylor offense should find plenty of open running and passing lanes as they try put up 1000 yards in a single game. The defense limits Texas Techs rushing game which puts more pressure on the Tech passing attack which finally has a hiccup.
Look for Texas Tech to start the game with a lot of energy and fight as they trade the lead with Baylor throughout the first half. A late score in the second quarter gives Baylor a two score lead and the Red Raiders finally run out of fight from their brutal three game stretch. Adding insult to the injury of getting run Art Briles subs in former Red Raider commit Jarett Stidham mid way through the third quarter and he adds a few extra passing touchdowns to end an abysmal afternoon for the Red Raiders. Unfortunately for the Red Raiders it’ll be 2016 before Kliff’s revenge tour makes it to the Big 12.