Mandatory Credit: Photo by Brad Tollefson/AP/Shutterstock (13420077a) Texas coach Steve Sarkisian yells out to his players before an NCAA college football game against Texas Tech, in Lubbock, Texas Texas Texas Tech Football, Lubbock, United States – 24 Sep 2022
Texas (7-4) vs. Baylor (6-5)
When: Nov. 25, 2022
Game time: 11 a.m. CT
TV/radio: ESPN/Longhorn Radio Network, SiriusXM 84
What’s at Stake: Texas needs help to reach the Big 12 title game, but there is still a chance. If Texas can beat Baylor and Kansas State loses to Kansas, the Horns will be headed to Arlington.
When the Longhorns have the ball: After last week’s massive performance by running back Bijan Robinson, Baylor’s defense will be focused on stopping the Longhorn running game. Robinson is the engine that propels Texas down the field, and when he rushes the ball effectively, it opens up the passing game.
Last week against Kansas, the Horns’ offense exploded for 55 points, with Robinson accounting for four touchdowns and 243 yards rushing himself. Quarterback Quinn Ewers has not proven that he can make a defense pay for selling out to stop the running game, so expect Baylor to do just that.
Defensively Baylor sits squarely in the middle of the pack in the Big 12, ranked fifth in points allowed, but they are ranked third in total yardage and third against the run. Baylor head coach Dave Aranda has a reputation as one of the top defensive minds in college football, so it will be interesting to see his approach to stopping Robinson and the Texas offense.
When Baylor has the ball: The Texas defense backed up its stellar performance against TCU with another outstanding effort against Kansas. The Jayhawks were held to 14 points, and seven of those came with the outcome of the game determined.
Defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski and his staff deserve a ton of credit for reshaping this unit into one of the best in the conference, if not the nation. Last year Texas gave up 31 points a game, and the defense was a liability as the Longhorns suffered one second-half collapse after another. This unit has cut their average points per game down to only 20 points a game and has become a strength of the team.
In order to win this game, Texas will have to contend with a balanced offense led by quarterback Blake Shapen and running back Richard Reese. The sophomore Shapen has thrown for 2.423 yards and 14 touchdowns against nine interceptions. Reese has posted the best season ever by a freshman running back at Baylor with 908 yards and has his sights set on a 1,000-yard season.
The Baylor offensive line is allowing only 1.5 sacks per game and has done a good job of protecting Shapen, but the Texas front has been very active lately and the defensive line lead by Barryn Sorrell has been unbreakable at times. The unit that gets the upper hand in this matchup will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game.
Key Horns to Watch: Linebackers Jaylan Ford and DeMarvion Overshown have led the Texas defense all season. Ford has been the team’s leader in tackles all season and has come up with several timely takeaways, while Overshown is an impact player that ranges sideline to sideline and makes his presence felt on the blitz. Look for both of these men to make an impact on the game with so much on the line.
Offensively everything will revolve around Bijan Robinson. If he delivers another big game, Texas will roll; if Baylor can stop Robinson and put the game on Ewers’ shoulders, the Bears will have a great chance to spoil the Longhorns’ championship dreams.
The Bottom Line: Texas has made great strides this season and should finally be ready to deliver a complete performance on a big stage. If the Horns deliver the complete game they are capable of, they should take care of their business against Baylor; then they will become the biggest Jayhawk fans in the country.