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Texas will travel to Waco to face No. 16 Baylor in Week 9.
Needles to say, it’s desperation time for the Longhorns. After dropping consecutive games to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, Texas must now win the remaining games on their schedule if they hope to sneak into the Big 12 championship game. On top of that, they need some help from other conference foes.
The Bears are currently ranked No. 2 in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma, while the Longhorns sit in the middle of the pack at No. 5. The game will likely come down to whether or not Texas is able to limit Baylor’s stout rushing attack on the ground.
In the three losses for the Longhorns this season, the opposing team rushed for over 200 yards. It will also be interesting to see whether Texas can play a full four quarters, something they were unable to do the last two games.
For only the second time this season, Texas is viewed as the underdog. Tipico Sportsbook gives the slight edge to No. 16 Baylor by 2.5 points. Take a look at who the experts predict will win this crucial Big 12 matchup.
College Football News' Pete Fuitak
Texas is 4-0 when allowing offenses to run for fewer than 200 yards, and it’s 0-3 when allowing 200 or more. However, outside of Louisiana, Texas hasn’t beaten a team that could run all that well.
At home, Baylor will keep the momentum going from the BYU win in a fun, back-and-forth battle. The Bears will be steady enough to overcome the Texas home runs.
Bleacher Report's Kerry Miller
Run defense has been a major problem for Texas this season. Both Arkansas and Oklahoma went over 330 yards on the ground with four touchdowns against the Longhorns. While not quite that potent, both Oklahoma State and TCU were able to run the ball pretty well against Texas.
And while Baylor had one of the worst rushing attacks in the nation in 2020, the Bears are averaging just under 240 yards and 3.0 touchdowns per game on the ground and just went for 303 and four, respectively, in a Week 7 victory over BYU.
Of perhaps greater importance in this game, Baylor has also held each of its first seven opponents below 30 points.
The Bears have yet to face an offense quite like what Texas brings to the table. And if you take out the blowouts of Texas Southern and Kansas, the Bears haven’t been anything special. Granted, Texas hasn’t been special either. But Bijan Robinson certainly is, and I like him to lead the Longhorns to more than 200 yards on the ground in a narrow victory.
247Sports' Chris Hummer and Brad Crawford
Baylor might be the best offense the Longhorns have seen this year, including Oklahoma. The Bears have an excellent o-line and a fantastic group of running backs, both capable of exposing a Texas run defense that ranks 115thnationally in yards allowed per play. Baylor also has the chess pieces in the secondary/linebacker to match up with the number of formations Steve Sarkisian will throw at people. Texas coming off a bye makes me hesitate, but Baylor is just a better team right now.
Baylor 34, Texas 30
I feel Hummer has widened the gap on me this season in games involving Big 12 teams and I’m feeling some type of way about this selection, but with the Longhorns coming off their open week, I’ll lean Texas here. The pre-game chatter about Baylor not being one of the conference’s toughest places to play gives me pause, however.
Dallas Morning News
Scott Bell: Texas
Chuck Carlton: Baylor
Joseph Hoyt: Baylor
Selby Lopez: Baylor
Ric Renner: Baylor
Newy Scruggs: Texas
Full slate of picks can be found here.
Longhorns Wire predictions
Even with the bye week to prepare for Baylor, the Longhorns do not match up well against a team who wants to run the ball as much as the Bears do. Texas is in must-win mode, but the offensive line is a liability, and puts all the pressure on Bijan Robinson and whatever the passing game for Texas has turned into.
The game comes down to the trenches, and although they have had two weeks to prepare, there is no way the defensive and offensive lines for Texas have magically become worlds better. Baylor averages 239 yards rushing per game, and Texas gives up 200 yards rushing per game, which means the Longhorns very well could give up another 300 yard rushing performance.
The only person I have faith in when it comes to Texas is Bijan Robinson, and for the Longhorns to win, he will need more than 30 touches.
Texas has yet to prove they can stop the run or hold a lead, so I hope they prove me wrong.
Baylor 38, Texas 35
Finally, I am not the only one with some cajones around here to pick against Texas. Thanks for jumping to the other side, Kevin.
This is the make-or-break game for Steve Sarkisian in his first year. Win in Waco and a 9-3 season is still a real possibility, with a long chance at a Big 12 championship. Head back south with a fourth loss and 7-5/6-6 is looking more likely than not.
Baylor is going to run the ball down Texas’ throat. Running back Abram Smith is averaging 7.5 yards per carry and is tied for second with Bijan Robinson in the Big 12 with 10 rushing touchdowns. Backup Trestan Ebner is no slouch either.
Like Kevin, Robinson is the only Texas offensive player I trust at this point. Casey Thompson’s play has significantly fallen off since Texas Tech, the offensive line cannot pass protect, and wide receivers go missing for games at a time. Robinson led the Longhorns to a win against TCU but I am not sure he can do it again.
Please ignore where I picked Texas to win in a post last week. Either way, I will be right.
Baylor 32, Texas 27
I’ll be the positive one here.
Although there’s been disappointment after disappointment recently, the potential of this team is evident. Their backs are against the wall right now, and this is a must-win if they hope to have a chance to sneak into the Big 12 championship game.
Texas has clearly struggled with their run defense for the majority of the season. Unfortunately, Baylor has one of the top rushing attacks in the country. Pete Kwiatowski’s defensive unit will have to live by the ‘bend, don’t break’ mentality in this one. No one is confident in Texas’ defense, which is why Texas running back Bijan Robinson needs to control this game on the ground and keep Baylor’s offense off the field.
The Bears also lead the conference in turnover margin, and their defense sits atop the Big 12 with eight interceptions as well. Casey Thompson will need to have a much better performance this week and protect the football.
It’s time for the Longhorns to prove that they can play a full four quarters.
Texas 34, Baylor 28