The game got off to a bang! Keke Coutee returned the opening kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown. The credit for the touchdown has to go down to his blockers and Baylor’s poor kick coverage. Keke needed one and only one block to take the ball to the house. And what a block it was.
It looked like the curse of running back the opening kick might rear its head in this game on Baylor’s opening drive. Texas Tech’s defense got carved up by Brewer, which also gave up a 15 yard penalty with a late hit on Brewer, as the Bears came out passing. And just like that it was 7-7.
Not to be outdone, Nic Shimonek and the Red Raider offense loaded up and within a few short minutes Tech had the lead again. It looked like these teams were on their way to another Big 12 shootout. Then, the supposed unicorn of the Big 12 showed up, these two teams played some defense.
Trading a couple of three-and-outs, Baylor started mounting a drive. Six plays in Texas Tech recovered a fumble. At this point the second unicorn of the day showed up. The Red Raiders put together a 16 play drive that went for 89 yards and ate up almost six and a half minutes of clock and ended with a touchdown.
Not to be out down, Baylor started its own methodical drive, marching down the field for 78 yards. Unfortunately, they needed 79. Texas Tech pulled off a goal line stand, stuffing JaMycal Hasty for no gain at the one yard line on fourth down.
That seemed to be the play that broke Baylor’s back. While Baylor would put up a fight, they never seriously threatened, only getting back in the end zone during garbage time with the lead safely secured by Texas Tech.
Baylor’s last drive of the first half ended in an interception and Tech would just kneel the half out. Both offenses struggled for much of the third quarter, trading fumbles at one point. Texas Tech was able to capitalize off of Baylor’s fumble and get a field goal.
That got the scoring back on track, as Baylor made it a 10 point game with just over a minute left in the third quarter. While 24-14 put the Bears within striking distance of coming back the score was actually closer than what the play on the field was.
In the only controversy of the game, Baylor went for the onside kick and looked liked they got it, but flags were immediately thrown. The referees flagged Baylor for not allowing the returner to attempt to field the ball. Replays showed that Baylor’s kicker kicked the ball up in the air (instead of trying to bounce it off the ground) and that Texas Tech’s returner clearly signalled for a fair catch. By rule, the kicking team has to let the returner make an attempt to catch the ball since he called for a fair catch.
The Red Raiders only needed two plays to travel the 32 yards to make a touchdown and firmly put the game away. Baylor would then turn the ball over on downs on the ensuing possession. Tech would punt after going backwards five yards. Then Baylor put 10 plays together and got a field goal, 31-17.
After forcing Texas Tech into another three and out, there was some hope. That hope turned firmly into despair as on the second play of the drive as Douglas Coleman III would strip Tony Nicholson of the ball and get a defensive touchdown, 38-17.
In a show of resolve, the Bears put together another 10 play drive and made the score respectable at 38-24. The Red Raiders recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
Emptying the Notebook:
You had to expect Baylor to attack Texas Tech weakness, the pass defense. And boy howdy, did they ever. The Bears had Conner Brewer throw 63 times! Brewer completed 43 of those for three touchdowns and an interception.
It must have been opposite day, because Nic Shimonek only tossed the rock 29 times. But, he was on point tearing up the woeful Baylor secondary. He finished with 24 completions, 246 yards, and 2 touchdowns.
Texas Tech’s offense was helped out by their defense getting them lots of short field looks. Baylor turned the ball over four times, three fumbles and an interception. Those turnovers are the key reason Texas Tech won. The Bears outgained the Red Raiders by almost 200 yards and held the ball 13 minutes longer.
Both rushing attacks were effectively shut down all game. Texas Tech only had 90 yards on 30 carries while Baylor had 106 on 29.
Conner Brewer did not look like a freshman passing the ball. His two extended looks have been against some of the worst defenses in the Big 12, so it is a little early to ordain him the quarterback of the future for Baylor. The next two weeks will show us how good he might be as Baylor faces Iowa State and TCU to finish the season.
This was only the second win for Texas Tech against a Big 12 opponent this year, the other was over Kansas. Tech now sits at 5-5 and needs a win over either TCU next week in Lubbock or against Texas on the road (Friday after Thanksgiving) to make bowl eligibility.
The Bears showed some heart and fight, but got in its own way too much to have a realistic shot at the upset. Baylor faces an angry Iowa State squad in Waco and then the Revivalry takes center stage in Fort Worth as the Bears end their season against TCU. The next two weeks are more about development as Baylor cannot make a bowl game.