Baylor overcomes TCU in 3OT, 29-23
No. 12 Baylor (8-0, 5-0) at TCU (4-4, 2-3)
Site: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth
Time/Day: 11:00 a.m. Saturday
TV/Radio: FS1/ESPN Central Texas
Betting Line: Baylor – 2 ½
Series: TCU leads, 55-52-7
Even head coaches have their own personal rebuilding periods. For instance, take Baylor head coach Matt Rhule’s approach to the TCU series.
In 2017, he was just trying to keep things together in a turbulent season. The Bears come to Fort Worth and a fight breaks out late in the third quarter. Baylor winds up losing, 45-22.
In 2018, the Bears appeared to be the better team when the reeling Horned Frogs limped into McLane Stadium. Factor into them losing the starting quarterback in the first quarter and seemed a matter of the margin. But the Horned Frogs still won anyway, 16-9.
Set the stage for Rhule’s third game in this series. Baylor comes to Amon Carter Stadium for Saturday’s 115th renewal ranked No. 12 in the latest College Football Poll and sole possession of first place in the Big 12. But the Horned Frogs have won the last four meetings.
TCU isn’t going to win the big 12 much less play in the championship game on Dec. 7. Then again this is a rivalry. Based on the following, Rhule now gets the rivalry.
“And now we're playing TCU. We haven't beaten him in two years and hadn't even played well and didn't even look like football the last two years,’’ Rhule said. “And so I am so thinking about that, because this was my plan all along. I’m not surprised with where we are. We're going to go on the road and then we're not sneaking up on anybody anymore,’’
“And we have to go play a really good TCU team that it's kind of clicking right now. They beat Texas two weeks ago and had a great game against Oklahoma State at Oklahoma State. I'm so focused on that because I've been focused on this game or this time of year since August.’’
This is Baylor’s first game in the month of decision. The Bears control their destiny. Facing the archrival, controlling the emotions might be the most important element.
Here are some elements to look for…
>TCU freshman QB Max Duggan’s status (right hand) in question but head coach Gary Patterson was optimistic late this week that Duggan would play. Duggan suffered the injury late in the fourth quarter at Oklahoma State. TCU isn’t a great passing team even with Duggan in the lineup. If he goes through pregame warmups without major issues, he should go. Then it becomes a matter of how the staff can use him.
>Baylor is hoping senior NT Bravvion Roy will be able to play Saturday as well. The Bears defensive line is arguably the surprise story of the season because of so many questions that were coming into it. Roy’s status is compounded by the fact that his backup, freshman Gabe Hall, is likely out with an injury. No Roy would mean no legitimate answer in the middle of that 3-man front.
>The theme of Baylor’s Big 12 season has been bizarre. The narrow wins have been at home. The most impressive performances have been on the road. Why? Who in the world knows? It could be a focus thing. It could be a mindset of enjoying being the “unwelcomed” guest. It may simply be matchups. What’s been common in the road wins at Kansas State and Oklahoma State is the Bears have played very well in the fourth quarter.
>Watch the kicking games for these two teams. They are the two worst in the conference. They don’t punt very well. Baylor’s Issac Power is ninth in the league averaging 37.3. TCU’s Jordy Sandy is 10th at 35.6. Then there’s the field goal units. Baylor has attempted only one field goal from beyond 40 yards. TCU’s Jonathan Song’s longest make this year is from 40. What will each team do in situations where the game would ordinarily call for the 40+ field goal? The game could be managed differently.
Baylor is 18-23-1 all-time in Fort Worth
Keys to the Game
Quick Start – It’s been a broken record with this team and its inability to get off to a quick start in games. But against the archrival, the Bears really must gain the upper hand early. In this kind of a game, Baylor does not want to play catch up. It can change the mindset especially with the way the series has been going lately.
One if by land – Baylor’s running game would suggest that it’s having a good season. The Bears are averaging about 200 yards per game. But the Bears have been a really erratic running football team where sometimes making the tough yards has been a chore. They were good running the ball at Kansas State and Oklahoma State. The magic number Saturday is 175.
Get up, Charlie – Actually, that doesn’t need to be the theme of the game when it comes to Baylor junior QB Charlie Brewer. The offensive line had a putrid performance last week surrendering eight sacks (Brewer incurred seven of them) to West Virginia. Because of that Baylor has yielded the second-most sacks in the Big 12 (21). TCU hasn’t had a great sack season. The Horned Frogs have just 15.
Reagor/Anderson – Because he basically single-handedly beat Baylor last year with two big plays, the Bears have to contain TCU all-purpose performer Jalen Reagor. He has 811 all-purpose yards, 454 receiving, 239 on punt returns, 64 rushing and 54 on kick returns. Baylor will have to limit his touches to an extent. However, then there’s senior running back Darius Anderson who is the Big 12’s 4th leading rusher at 667 yards. He’s averaging 6.4 yards per carry. It’s about making sure he doesn’t get loose.
TCU’s defense isn’t a vintage group like it has been in years past. There are some youngsters in it like former Aledo standouts Cole Ellison and Wyatt Harris. However, they are growing up fast. But there is something about games like this that burns a hole through Patterson. He will spare no unturned stone to beat his rival. It consumes him. Rhule appears to have caught on and has the rivalry bug. Baylor can afford no more than one turnover. It can’t have more than 50 yards in flags. Its special teams must be solid, especially in the punting game where field position makes a difference. As difficult as this game always is, this is going to come down to Brewer taking control and being a leader. Yes, Brewer has led several memorable comebacks. However, if you want to be known as a “next level” QB - the one who leads teams to championships – you have to win this. It’s November. Brewer has to play well.
Baylor 25, TCU 22