Key Matchups: vs. Baylor

Dalton Phillips

Quarterback Advantage: Texas

Despite a costly fourth quarter turnover against Oklahoma State, freshman Sam Ehlinger’s progress has been encouraging for Texas fans. The young quarterback threw for 241 yards and kept the Longhorns in the game against one of the nation’s top teams. Unfortunately, as soon as it seemed Texas’ quarterback question had been answered, Ehlinger’s head injury made him questionable for Saturday’s matchup. Whether it’s him or sophomore quarterback Shane Buechele under center, the Longhorn offense ought to thrive this week against an opponent at the bottom of the conference standings. 

Sophomore quarterback Zach Smith has more interceptions than touchdowns in his last three games. The Bears starter was replaced last week at the end of the third quarter against West Virginia, and freshman quarterback Charlie Brewer rattled off 23 unanswered points and almost clinched the win at home for his team. If the coaching staff liked what they saw last Saturday, Brewer may get the nod this weekend against Texas. 

Running Back Advantage: Baylor

Texas’ offense is painfully limited — a fact on full display Saturday as the defense provided every opportunity to clinch the win at home. Sophomore running back Chris Warren III saw an uptick in touches in the contest, but produced a team-high 33 yards on 12 carries. Luckily for the Longhorns, the lack of a run game won’t hurt the team much against a porous Baylor defense. 

The Bears’ offense has shown glimpses of promise. Freshman running back John Lovett has churned out 403 yards and four touchdowns this season, while classmate Trestan Ebner doubled his rushing totals for the season on Saturday and added two touchdowns to help orchestrate a comeback that was a 2-point conversion away from sending the West Virginia game into overtime. If Baylor is going to stun Texas, it’ll start with the run. 

Wide Receiver Advantage: Texas

Texas’ receivers provide welcome depth to an otherwise thin offense. Seven Texas players already have 10 or more catches this season, with junior John Burt tallying 99 yards on just two touches against Oklahoma State. A beat-up offensive line and limited pass game have hurt the productivity of this explosive group, but Baylor shouldn’t put up much resistance with as many weapons as Texas has. 

Sophomore Denzel Mims has had no trouble producing through a winless record, earning 685 yards and 7 touchdowns this season. He and the rest of the receivers will likely struggle to find openings in the face of one of the nation’s top defenses. 

Defense Advantage: Texas

Texas’ defense held the best offense in the country to 10 points in regulation and three in overtime — that’s 35 points below the Cowboy’s season average. Moving straight from Mason Rudolph and company to Baylor, Texas may be primed for a shutout. 

Baylor’s defense sits at the opposite end of the conference spectrum, allowing 39 points per contest and 514 yards. Texas fans can expect an offensive onslaught reminiscent of Week 2 against San Jose State as the Longhorns look to run away with this one on the road.