TCU-Baylor Preview

TCU-Baylor Preview

Published Oct. 7, 2014 12:14 p.m. ET

(AP) - The Texas-Oklahoma game is usually a bellwether matchup every year for the Big 12 title race.

This weekend, the Red River rivalry showdown is not even the biggest game in Texas. That distinction belongs to a matchup between No. 9 TCU (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) and No. 5 Baylor (5-0, 2-0), the league's last undefeated teams.

That's just the way things are in the Big 12 these days. Programs that used to be pushovers are instead pushing for a title. Programs that used to be powerhouses might not even make a bowl game.

''We understand the significance of this ball game. We're both undefeated,'' TCU coach Gary Patterson said. ''Whoever wins the ball game would have the driver's seat along with the other unbeatens going forward.''


TCU, which knocked off Oklahoma 37-33 over the weekend, could contend for the Big 12 title for the first time. The Horned Frogs were just 6-12 in their first two years of Big 12 play.

Quarterback Trevone Boykin gained a career-high 395 yards of offense on Saturday and guided TCU to its biggest Big 12 win so far.

''If you want to win championships, you've got to play the best,'' Patterson said. ''The Oklahoma game was a big win. But that's why you saw me in my press conference, even in the locker room. I just kind of really (said), 'Hey look. I understand what we just got done and accomplished, and we'll look back on this. But you have maybe, you have a better football team that you have to play next week.'"

Just 10 months ago, Texas and Baylor faced each other with the Big 12 title on the line. The Bears rolled past the Longhorns 30-10 to win their first league championship and the game suggested a changing of the guard that remains in place as the Charlie Strong era begins at Texas.

This time, Baylor leaned on its defense to overcome an uncharacteristically poor day from quarterback Bryce Petty. No one was really surprised to see Baylor beat Texas in Austin, a relatively easy 28-7 win.

''We're getting to the stage to where we are really a complete football team, and that's how you have opportunities to win every time you step on the field,'' Baylor coach Art Briles said.

Unlike so many other ranked teams, Baylor survived the weekend of upsets and is now the Big 12's highest-ranked team.

The Horned Frogs pulled off one of those upsets last Saturday, beating then-No. 4 Oklahoma. They moved up 16 spots in the poll, setting up only the second top-10 matchup ever in Waco. The other was Baylor losing to Texas A&M 19-13 in 1956.

The third game ever at Baylor's new on-campus stadium along the Brazos River, about 100 miles south of the State Fair of Texas, will leave the Big 12 with only one undefeated team halfway through the first season with the first four-team College Football Playoff.

Briles still isn't putting too much into the Bears' standing, even though they are in a prime position if they keep winning. The three teams directly ahead of them in the poll - No. 2 Auburn and Nos. 3 Ole Miss and Mississippi State - all still have head-to-head matchups left.

''It just means we've done OK up to this point,'' the coach said. ''We've got to play well against a really good TCU football team.''

Baylor's series with TCU dates to 1899, the Bears' first season of football and when both private schools were located in Waco. They were later Southwest Conference rivals, and became league foes again in 2012 after the Frogs joined the Big 12. The series is tied 51-51-7, and they have split the two Big 12 games with both winning on the road.

The Bears have a 12-game home winning streak since losing to TCU at their old stadium in October 2012.

At Texas last Saturday, reigning Big 12 offensive player of the year Petty was 7-of-22 passing for 111 yards, though he did throw for two touchdowns after halftime. Shock Linwood ran 28 times for 148 yards with a 1-yard TD in the fourth quarter.

One of Petty's worst games last season came at TCU, going 19 of 38 for 206 yards with two TDs and one interception, but the No. 9 Bears held on for a 41-38 win.

Boykin threw a 21-yard touchdown on his only pass attempt of that game when he was Casey Pachall's backup.

Boykin's strong start has helped the Frogs open 4-0 for the fifth time in seven seasons, a stretch in which they also won three consecutive Mountain West titles without a league loss immediately preceding their move to the Big 12.

''Last year, I don't think we were clicking as a whole team,'' safety Chris Hackett said. ''This year, I think we're more focused as a whole team. Not just defense, not just offense, but as a whole. We got better.''