As good as the Baylor Bears were feeling following their 52-24 thrashing of then-No. 1 ranked Kansas State on Saturday night, coach Art Briles was quick to bring his players back to reality.
While the victory was sweet, it still wasn’t enough to make them bowl eligible.
They’ll have a chance to change that Saturday when they meet Texas Tech at 2 p.m. ET at Cowboys Stadium in a nationally-televised game on FOX.
The Bears (5-5, 2-5 in the Big 12) need a victory over Tech (7-4, 4-4) to wrap up a bowl spot and avoid having to beat Oklahoma State in their season finale to secure a postseason berth. If Baylor can clinch a bowl berth, it would be the school’s third in a row, something that’s never happened in Waco, Texas.
“Our players rose to the occasion and our fans rose to the occasion and we got a much-needed win to get us to five wins,” Briles said after the Kansas State victory. “Now we have to go and finish the job.”
One thing that’s almost a guarantee about Saturday’s game is that it will take a long time to finish. … The offenses will see to that.
Both teams feature high-powered offenses and defenses that can struggle at times. Baylor ranks 119th out of 120 FBS teams in total defense. The Red Raiders rank 25th nationally defensively but have lost three of their last four games and have allowed an average of 44.8 points a game in those four contests.
Those are just the kind of stats each team’s offense wants to see. Baylor averages 565.6 yards a game offensively, second in the nation. Texas Tech ranks 13th nationally, rolling up 495.5 yards a game.
Last season the Bears outscored Texas Tech 66-42 for their first victory in 16 games over the Red Raiders since the teams joined the Big 12. It also served as a coming-out party for Baylor quarterback Nick Florence. Robert Griffin III, who was on his way to winning a Heisman Trophy, was injured in the game and Florence had to replace him.
Playing in the contest cost Florence a redshirt season but he responded by going 9-for-12 with 151 yards and two touchdowns in the second half of that game. He also added a 1-yard rushing TD.
And all Florence has done this season is lead the nation in total offense and rank second in passing yards.
The Red Raiders know they have to slow him down.
“Baylor, another good, very good offensive team,” Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said. “They might be the most balanced in the league.
“Nick Florence has picked up, really picked up during our game last year where Robert Griffin kind of turned it over to him in our game in the second half. (Florence) played very well then, so we’re very familiar with him.”
Not that the Red Raiders needed to be reminded of how good Baylor can be, but they’re certainly aware of it after the Bears’ win over Kansas State.
“Of course it’s always going to grab your attention when you’re a team like Kansas State (that loses),” Texas Tech defensive back Eugene Neboh said. “But just watching them (the Bears) throughout the year, they’ve always been able to score points. The defense hasn’t always played the best. But the Baylor offense has always been able to put up points no matter who they’ve played.”