You want fireworks? Oh, you'll get fireworks when Baylor takes on Texas this Saturday.
The Bears bring the nation's top passing attack (398.4 yards per game) and fourth-best scoring offense (47.6 points per game) to Austin, where they'll meet a Texas side scoring 42.5 points per game (10th in the nation) and looking to rebound after consecutive losses, including an embarrassing 63-21 butt-kicking against rival Oklahoma.
Oh, and Texas might want some vengeance for that 48-24 loss to Baylor a year ago, as well.
But Baylor will have motivation of its own, as the Bears are looking to rebound from two consecutive losses. Let's take a closer look at what promises to be an exciting Big-12 shootout.
Where: Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas
When: Saturday, October 20 at 8 p.m. ET
Watch: ABC; ESPN3
Betting Line: Texas (-11), according to Bet Online
Baylor Injuries (via USA Today)
S Mike Hicks, Knee, Questionable
OL Jake Jackson, Knee, Questionable
DB Demetri Goodson, Arm, Out Indefinitely
Texas Injuries (via USA Today)
LB Jordan Hicks, Hip, Questionable
QB David Ash, Wrist, Doubtful
DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Pectoral, Out For Season
In consecutive losses to West Virginia and Oklahoma, Texas has given up a total of 111 points and 1,137 yards. Can it stop the bleeding against a formidable Baylor offense?
A Texas win keeps it ranked, while a Baylor win could see it slip into the Top 25. Unless Texas drastically turns its season around, neither of these programs will be playing in a premier bowl this season. The losing side is in big trouble, as each team has a tough schedule down the stretch.
What They're Saying
When Baylor meets Texas, the Bears will be looking to do something they've never done in their history—beat the Longhorns three times in a row.
The Bears will have plenty of motivation since they’ve never beaten the Longhorns three straight years in 101 games dating back to 1901. They don’t expect to be intimidated by the 100,000 fans who will pack DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium because they beat the Longhorns there two years ago.
“We know we can beat them at home because we’ve done it,” Baylor nickelback Ahmad Dixon said. “We’re not worried about the atmosphere. We know it’s going to be loud in Austin. But it’s not the same old Baylor against Texas where they expect a blowout.”
Baylor Player to Watch: Nick Florence, Quarterback
To borrow from Charles Dickens, it's been the best of times, it's been the worst of times for Florence this season.
He's put up gaudy numbers in Baylor's pass-happy attack, throwing for 1,786 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. Oh, but he's also thrown nine interceptions, far too many after just five games.
Until the TCU game, those interceptions hadn't really hurt Baylor (he was fantastic in the 70-63 loss to West Virginia, throwing for 581 yards, five touchdowns and a pick). But the Horned Frogs intercepted four of his passes en route to a 49-21 drubbing of the Bears.
So which Florence will we see against Texas? The productive gunslinger who led Baylor to the most dangerous passing attack in college football? Or the quarterback prone to tossing picks and putting his team in a hole?
The former version of Florence can beat Texas. The latter version cannot.
Texas Player to Watch: Alex Okafor, Defensive End
Okafor is having an excellent season, with 15 tackles and six sacks on the season. But he'll need to pick up his production even more—or manage to have the same impact while being double-teamed—now that fellow defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat is done for the year.
Jeffcoat had 24 tackles (9.5 for loss), four sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown this year. His production will be sorely missed.
But Okafor can still be a game-changer, and he'll need to pressure Florence and disrupt the timing of the Baylor pass attack if Texas is to slow down the Bears. It's all about Okafor this week for the Texas defense.
Key Matchup: Terrance Williams vs. Texas Secondary
Williams has been spectacular this year, with 37 receptions for 830 yards and eight touchdowns already. He's easily the biggest playmaker Baylor has on offense.
Meanwhile, Texas has allowed 602 passing yards and six passing touchdowns in its past two games. That's not exactly what we've come to expect from Texas over the years, a program known for churning out NFL cornerbacks and safeties.
I'm not sure who Texas will want to match against Williams or how it'll approach covering him, but shutting him down—or at least slowing him a bit—will be a key battle in this game.
I don't care that this game is in Austin. Texas has serious issues defensively, which will only be compounded by the loss of Jeffcoat, and starting quarterback David Ash may not play (via ESPN Insider). As bad as Baylor's defense is, it won't matter if the Bears can simply outscore the Longhorns.
Expect an upset, folks—Baylor wins in a crazy game, 45-41.
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