Texas Tech-Baylor Preview

While some may have been skeptical of Baylor’s early season
dominance against lesser competition, the unbeaten Bears surely
quieted their critics after handily passing their first true test
last week.

That impressive victory, though, came at a steep cost.

Fourth-ranked Baylor will be without star receiver Tevin Reese
in Saturday night’s Big 12 showdown against slumping Texas Tech,
which has quickly fallen off the pace.

Leading the country with 61.0 points per game, the Bears (8-0,
5-0) got off to a sluggish start before beating then-No. 12
Oklahoma 41-12 last Thursday in their first matchup against a
ranked opponent. Bryce Petty threw for 204 yards and three
touchdowns while adding 45 yards and two more scores on the
ground.

“We’re just talented, man. We’re committed. I think that’s all
you can say about it,” said Petty, who has thrown 21 TDs and one
interception. “It’s a very special team.”

Petty, who had passed for at least 312 yards in each of the
previous seven games, found Antwan Goodley six times for 80 yards
and two TDs. Reese, though, was held without a catch before
dislocating his right wrist after coming down awkwardly late in the
first half.

Reese ranks third in the Big 12 with an average of 103.0
receiving yards and second with eight touchdowns, just behind
Goodley’s conference-leading marks of 121.8 yards per game and 10
scores. Reese also leads the FBS with 25.0 yards per catch.

The Bears, fifth in the BCS standings, are hoping he can return
in time for a bowl game.

“I’m eager to see how it changes from a schematic standpoint and
a philosophical standpoint,” said coach Art Briles, who agreed to a
new 10-year contract Wednesday. “We’re going to have to kind of
change how we think and how we feel without Tevin because he’s the
fastest receiver in America. … We’ll have to compensate in a
variety of ways.”

Baylor could look to get its potent ground game even more
involved against the Red Raiders (7-3, 4-3), who have allowed 849
rushing yards and 13 touchdowns during a three-game losing
streak.

Texas Tech saw its woes continue last Saturday with a 49-26 loss
to Kansas State, giving up a season-worst 291 rushing yards.

“We’re playing another great rushing team next week, so we’ve
got to come up with some answers,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said.

The Red Raiders can’t be excited about facing the Bears, who are
averaging 295.4 yards on the ground to rank ninth in the nation.
Freshman Shock Linwood carried the ball 23 times for a season-high
182 yards against the Sooners after Lache Seastrunk (groin) and
Glasco Martin (knee) were hurt.

Linwood is averaging 89.3 yards rushing, second in the Big 12
behind Seastrunk’s 111.0 per game.

“Shock’s performance was non-surprising to all of y’all that
have watched us playing this year,” Briles said. “The thing that
has helped is we’ve been able to play these guys, some good
Saturday quality playing time in meaningful games. … (Shock)
plays with a tremendous amount of passion and confidence and
delivers.”

While Baylor’s offensive performances have dominated the
headlines, its defensive efforts have proven nearly as impressive.
The Bears are surrendering 15.4 points per game, college football’s
sixth-best mark.

“They keep us in it,” Petty said. “Any time that we can get a
stop on defense, then swing back over to us, it helps us out a
lot.”

The Bears, who ran for 278 yards in last season’s 52-45 overtime
victory over Texas Tech, have outscored opponents by an average of
35.8 points during a school-record 12-game winning streak.

“They’re solid in every phase and playing with a ton of
confidence right now,” Kingsbury said. “I think that knocking them
off from being undefeated will be a great accomplishment.”

While Saturday’s clash at AT&T Stadium is fast approaching,
Kingsbury has yet to name a starting quarterback. Davis Webb went
13 of 20 for 78 yards and a touchdown last weekend before being
replaced by Baker Mayfield, who was 34 for 44 for 276 yards and two
interceptions.

Webb also started the previous four games with Mayfield out due
to an injured left knee. The QBs have combined for 24 touchdowns
and 16 interceptions.

“They’re young. That’s part of the process and our system. You
have to grow with it,” Kingsbury said. “But at this point in the
season you’d think some of those (turnovers) could be
eliminated.”