Wins if, loses if: Week 7, Baylor

Keshav Prathivadi

For the past three years, the Longhorns have enjoyed success against Baylor. In fact, the Bears are the only team in the Big 12 that Texas has been undefeated against over that span.

However, Texas has had its way with depleted Baylor teams, one that lost its starting quarterback and another reeling from a scandal that echoed throughout the college football world, but the stakes have risen for Saturday’s matchup.

Both teams are coming in hot, with No. 9 Texas earning a spot in the AP Top 10 for the first time since 2009 and Baylor coming off a thrilling win at home against Kansas State. Both teams are hungry and still have something to prove, and this game is starting to have the look of a shootout.

If Texas wants to keep its win streak alive, here’s what it’ll have to do:

Texas wins if …

… the defense pulls through. For three quarters last Saturday, the Longhorns contained one of the most potent offenses in the country in then-No. 7 Oklahoma. The most important part about Texas’ defensive performance was not only keeping the Sooners’ offense at bay but forcing three turnovers to help out the offense. Texas’ defense forced turnovers at critical junctures in the game and consistently gave the offense short field to work with and convert to scores. If Texas can do the same to Baylor’s offense, which ranks 15th in the nation in total yards, a shootout won’t be needed to settle the game.

… it can bring the energy to DKR. Texas’ last home game against then-No. 17 TCU was nearly a month ago. In that span, the Longhorns have won at a place they hadn’t walked out victorious from in 16 years and taken down a top-10 opponent for the first time since 2015.  Senior defensive end Breckyn Hager and tight end Andrew Beck took to Twitter to encourage fans to make it to Saturday’s contest, but that little number next to Texas’ name should be enough to get them out there. If the burnt orange faithful can bring the same energy it brought against USC and TCU, it could be the intangible that sees Texas through to its sixth straight win.

Texas loses if …

… it can’t slow down Baylor’s offense. There’s no question, Baylor’s strength lies on the offensive side of the ball. Sophomore quarterback Charlie Brewer has helped the Bears to a 4–2 record thus far, and his ability to run as a quarterback poses him as even more of a juggernaut for the Texas defense. Baylor’s vertical passing game is headlined by senior wide receiver Jalen Hurd, who ranks fourth in the Big 12 in receiving yards, and junior wide receiver Denzel Mims. Baylor’s offense can make plays in all phases of the game, and if the Longhorns can’t force a turnover, it’s going to be up to Ehlinger and the offense to decide this game.

… gets cute on offense. Up by 21 points midway through the fourth quarter last week, Texas had Oklahoma right where they wanted. But within a matter of minutes, the Sooners roared back to tie the game. What can be attributed to this? Ultra-conservative play calling. After pulling away from Oklahoma, Texas settled for simple run plays and tried to be too fancy on third downs. This forced sophomore quarterback Sam Ehlinger to make throws he didn’t need to make. If the Longhorns do the same this weekend, it could spell for an even tougher afternoon for the Texas defense.