5 Bold Predictions for No. 20 Baylor vs. No. 21 Texas A&M
No. 21 Texas A&M will seek its seventh-straight win against teams from the state of Texas when the Aggies Host No. 20 Baylor in the 108th "Battle of the Brazos" on Saturday at Kyle Field.
The Aggies haven't lost to a team from the state of Texas since dropping a 49-39 decision to No. 3 Texas in the finale of the 2009 regular season. When the Aggies face the Bears on Saturday, it will mark 688 days since A&M's most recent loss to a Texas school.
The last time Baylor won in College Station was 1984 when Grant Teaff's Bears handed the Aggies a 20-16 loss in Jackie Sherrill's third season in Aggieland.
Bears quarterback and Heisman hopeful Robert Griffin III will look to lead his squad to victory in the always-intimidating atmosphere of Kyle Field.
Here are five bold predictions for when the Aggies take on the Bears at 11 a.m. Saturday.
500 Yards Total Offense for RGIII
Michigan's Denard Robinson has taken the national mantle of "Most Electric Player in the Country," but folks south of the Mason-Dixon will make the same argument for Robert Griffin III.
Always a speedster with accuracy issues, he's improved his passing efficiency each season in Waco and is making a serious run for the Heisman.
Heading into Week 4's matchup with Kansas State, Griffin held one of the most ridiculous statistics in the history of football: He had more touchdown passes than incompletions. Read that again. Absurd.
Griffin leads the Big 12 in passing efficiency, posting 19 touchdowns to only one interception. He throws for 304 yards per game and tacks on 56 rushing yards a game.
He'll try to take advantage of a Aggies' porous secondary that gives up a Big 12 worst 347.6 yards a game.
Look for Griffin to connect with wide receiver Kendall Wright (138 yards per game) early and often, and to take advantage on the ground of soft spots in the A&M defense.
The Aggie Express Chugs for 200 Yards
Head coach Mike Sherman will look to ride the Aggie Express to a victory on Saturday. With two bell cows in the backfield, Sherman will utilize the dual threat of running backs Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael in an attempt to keep Griffin and the Bears off the field.
The Aggie Express will exploit a weak Baylor rush defense that allows 169.4 yards per game.
Michael has been on a tear as of late, gashing a stout Arkansas defensive line for 230 yards in the Southwest Classic, and the shifty Gray makes it happen through the air and on the ground.
A big day for the Aggie Express is in store.
Ganaway Grounded by Aggie Rush D
Baylor running back Terrance Ganaway has been one of the greatest offensive forces for the Bears this season.
His 105.4 yards a game ranks third in the Big 12 and outperforms both of A&M's heralded ball carriers, Cyrus Gray (95.8) and Christine Michael (82.0).
On Saturday, the script will be reversed.
Texas A&M's fearsome front seven, headlined by outside linebacker Sean Porter and defensive tackle Tony Jerod-Eddie, allows a scant 76.8 yards a game, tops in the conference.
The Bears, on the other hand, give up nearly 170 yards on the ground (169.4) each time they take the field.
I expect the Aggie Express to run wild while the Bears try to take flight on the wings of Griffin's golden arm.
Nwachukwu Leads Aggie Pass Catchers with a TD
Aggie receivers Jeff Fuller and Ryan Swope both rank in the Big 12 top 10 for receptions per game, and Swope's 82.6 receiving yards a game is good for fifth in the conference.
But third receiver Uzoma Nwachakwu has been the apple of quarterback Ryan Tannehill's eye these past few games and will have another big game against Baylor on Saturday.
"EZ" led the team against Texas Tech with four receptions for 74 yards, including a gorgeous 38-yard grab before falling out of bounds.
Swope and Fuller have both been knocked woozy a few times this season, resulting in concussions and limited practice time. Look for Nwachakwu to seize the opportunity against a weak Baylor secondary and record his first touchdown of the season.
Prediction: Texas A&M 44, Baylor 41
Saturday's "Battle of the Brazos" features two top 25 teams with prolific offenses and atrocious defenses. Both teams account for nearly 500 yards per game of offense and allow opponents to rack up 374 yards a game as well.
This matchup has "shoot out" written all over it.
Let's look a little deeper to figure out who retains the positional advantages and see if that brings clarity.
Tannehill has been very serviceable for the Aggies, especially last week's 3 TD/no turnover effort against the Red Raiders, but Griffin is in a class of his own, generating 360 yards of total offense per game compared to Tannehill's 300 yards a game.
Running Backs: A&M
Ganaway ranks third in the Big 12, but Gray and Michael are both more talented than him and would best his numbers if either of them were the featured back. The Aggies have the luxury of two elite running backs who can spell each other in fast-paced games.
Wide Receivers: A&M
The Bears are top-heavy with Kendall Wright, who's making a compelling argument for the title of "Best Receiver in Big 12," but A&M has too much depth with Swope, Fuller, Nwachakwu and tight ends Michael Lamothe and Hutson Prioleau.
Offensive Line: A&M
The Aggie offensive line, with All-Big 12 selections Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews bolstering the ends, always gives Tannehill time in the pocket and has allowed only three sacks in five games, tied with Oklahoma for first in the Big 12.
Defensive Line: A&M
Tony Jerod-Eddie's four sacks rank third in the conference, behind only OU's Fran Alexander and teammate Sean Porter. They allow a league-low 2.3 yards/rush.
Porter leads the conference in sacks (6.5) and tackles for loss (8.5). Garrick Williams and Johnathan Stewart both rank in the top 20 for tackles per game.
The strength of this Baylor defense lies in its secondary, with play makers like cornerback Chance Casey and safety Mike Hicks. The secondary leads the team in tackles, mostly because the front line is so atrocious that ball carriers always make it to the second level. Casey will match up on Fuller most of the game.
Final prediction: Texas A&M 44, Baylor 41
In a game that could be decided by a field goal, go with the team that trots out a kicker with a 90 percent accuracy rate (A&M's Randy Bullock) rather than a 60 percent one (BU's Aaron Jones). Griffin runs wild, but the Aggies will play just enough defense to hang onto a win against their bitter Brazos rivals.