While some may have been skeptical of Baylor's early season dominance against lesser competition, the unbeaten Bears surely quieted their critics after handily passing their first true test last week.
That impressive victory, though, came at a steep cost.
Fourth-ranked Baylor will be without star receiver Tevin Reese in Saturday night's Big 12 showdown against slumping Texas Tech, which has quickly fallen off the pace.
Leading the country with 61.0 points per game, the Bears (8-0, 5-0) got off to a sluggish start before beating then-No. 12 Oklahoma 41-12 last Thursday in their first matchup against a ranked opponent. Bryce Petty threw for 204 yards and three touchdowns while adding 45 yards and two more scores on the ground.
"We're just talented, man. We're committed. I think that's all you can say about it," said Petty, who has thrown 21 TDs and one interception. "It's a very special team."
Petty, who had passed for at least 312 yards in each of the previous seven games, found Antwan Goodley six times for 80 yards and two TDs. Reese, though, was held without a catch before dislocating his right wrist after coming down awkwardly late in the first half.
Reese ranks third in the Big 12 with an average of 103.0 receiving yards and second with eight touchdowns, just behind Goodley's conference-leading marks of 121.8 yards per game and 10 scores. Reese also leads the FBS with 25.0 yards per catch.
The Bears, fifth in the BCS standings, are hoping he can return in time for a bowl game.
"I'm eager to see how it changes from a schematic standpoint and a philosophical standpoint," said coach Art Briles, who agreed to a new 10-year contract Wednesday. "We're going to have to kind of change how we think and how we feel without Tevin because he's the fastest receiver in America. ... We'll have to compensate in a variety of ways."
Baylor could look to get its potent ground game even more involved against the Red Raiders (7-3, 4-3), who have allowed 849 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns during a three-game losing streak.
Texas Tech saw its woes continue last Saturday with a 49-26 loss to Kansas State, giving up a season-worst 291 rushing yards.
"We're playing another great rushing team next week, so we've got to come up with some answers," coach Kliff Kingsbury said.
The Red Raiders can't be excited about facing the Bears, who are averaging 295.4 yards on the ground to rank ninth in the nation. Freshman Shock Linwood carried the ball 23 times for a season-high 182 yards against the Sooners after Lache Seastrunk (groin) and Glasco Martin (knee) were hurt.
Linwood is averaging 89.3 yards rushing, second in the Big 12 behind Seastrunk's 111.0 per game.
"Shock's performance was non-surprising to all of y'all that have watched us playing this year," Briles said. "The thing that has helped is we've been able to play these guys, some good Saturday quality playing time in meaningful games. ... (Shock) plays with a tremendous amount of passion and confidence and delivers."
While Baylor's offensive performances have dominated the headlines, its defensive efforts have proven nearly as impressive. The Bears are surrendering 15.4 points per game, college football's sixth-best mark.
"They keep us in it," Petty said. "Any time that we can get a stop on defense, then swing back over to us, it helps us out a lot."
The Bears, who ran for 278 yards in last season's 52-45 overtime victory over Texas Tech, have outscored opponents by an average of 35.8 points during a school-record 12-game winning streak.
"They're solid in every phase and playing with a ton of confidence right now," Kingsbury said. "I think that knocking them off from being undefeated will be a great accomplishment."
While Saturday's clash at AT&T Stadium is fast approaching, Kingsbury has yet to name a starting quarterback. Davis Webb went 13 of 20 for 78 yards and a touchdown last weekend before being replaced by Baker Mayfield, who was 34 for 44 for 276 yards and two interceptions.
Webb also started the previous four games with Mayfield out due to an injured left knee. The QBs have combined for 24 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
"They're young. That's part of the process and our system. You have to grow with it," Kingsbury said. "But at this point in the season you'd think some of those (turnovers) could be eliminated."
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