The Baylor Bears begin a difficult two-game road stretch against Top 25 teams in their Big 12 matchup with the Texas Longhorns, who are licking their wounds from their latest shellacking in the Red River Rivalry.
Both defenses are pretty abysmal. That should mean big days for Bears QB Nick Florence and his counterpart David Ash, despite the Texas sophomore's wrist injury suffered against the Sooners last weekend.
It will be up to the defenses to get one stop at the end of the game. Between the dynamic ability of both Florence and Ash, that will be a tall task.
The Longhorns will be without top defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat after he tore his pectoral muscle in the Oklahoma loss, which should make this matchup more even.
Here is a closer look at Saturday night's interstate showdown at Darrell K Royal—Texas Memorial Stadium.
Current Betting Line (via Odds Shark)
Spread: Texas (-10)
Money Line: Baylor (+290), Texas (-370)
Baylor Injury Report
Jake Jackson, OL (knee) QUESTIONABLE; Mike Hicks, S (knee) QUESTIONABLE.
Texas Injury Report
David Ash, QB (wrist) PROBABLE; Donald Hawkins, OL (ankle) QUESTIONABLE; Jordan Hicks, LB (hip) QUESTIONABLE; Brandon Moore, DT (neck) DOUBTFUL.
(Note: Injury information courtesy of USA TODAY)
What's at Stake/BCS Impact
A third loss in Big 12 play for either team would be devastating. Absent a shot at the conference title, the loser of this game will not have much more to play for in 2012 beyond competing for a bowl bid. Texas currently sits at No. 25 in the BCS, and a win would definitely bump it up a spot or two.
Both of these teams have lethal offenses. If they could play just a lick of defense, they would figure much more prominently in the BCS discussion.
Baylor Player to Watch: QB Nick Florence
After the departure of No. 2 overall pick Robert Griffin III, it would be easy to suspect that the Baylor offense would drop off significantly. Florence has proven otherwise, as the Bears rank first in the nation with nearly 400 yards passing per game.
The senior signal-caller had one of the craziest stat lines ever in a generally rough outing last week against TCU: 12-of-19, 289 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. As long as he can take care of the ball a little better, he should keep Baylor in the game.
Texas Player to Watch: QB David Ash
In his first year as the unquestioned starter, Ash was playing spectacular football until the unraveling in the Cotton Bowl. An injury to his non-throwing wrist late in the fourth quarter certainly didn't lift his spirits in the first game that he failed to throw a touchdown in 2012.
A much more generous home matchup awaits, as the Bears have allowed 41.6 points per game. Expect a huge bounce-back game from Ash, who will need it if the Longhorns are going to avoid a third consecutive loss.
This game will come down to the Longhorns' ability to contain the Baylor running game. The dual-threat nature of Florence will likely give the Texas defense headaches, and it won't be shocking if Baylor racks up more than 200 yards. The Longhorns give up an average of 209 yards per game on the ground.
Allowing Baylor to control the clock on the ground will result in fewer possessions for the Texas offense to respond.
It's difficult to gauge this game, because both high-powered offenses have inflated their numbers against pretty lowly competition.
Texas should get the edge, though, because it has superior talent on the defensive side, and Ash has shown a better ability to take care of the football than Florence, who has thrown nine interceptions on the season.
Final score: Texas 45, Baylor 35