The Longhorns are headed to Waco, Texas, to face the Baylor Bears in their penultimate game of the season. The No. 14 Baylor Bears are currently second in the Big 12 with only one loss to Oklahoma after blowing a 21-point lead in the second half.
Baylor has a shot at redemption, and taking down the Longhorns will be another step toward the Big 12 Championship. While Baylor battles for a Big 12 Championship bid, Texas will be fighting to maintain the possibility of playing a marquee opponent in a bowl game.
Yet the Bears are a standout among the Big 12 with solid defensive and offensive personnel. Like many teams this season, Baylor threatens to further expose issues in Texas’ defensive and offensive lines.
“They have found a way at the end of games to make plays on both sides of the ball when it matters to get the wins,” head coach Tom Herman said. “Their defensive front, two guys especially, 93 and 99, they're guys that you've got to game plan for. They are real, real dudes that are going to be an issue, and we have to make sure we are buttoned up (in terms of) how we're going to block them and who we are going to block them with.”
Herman is referring to Baylor defensive tackles James Lynch and Bravvion Roy, two of many defensive leaders on the Bears’ roster. Lynch currently leads the Big 12 in sacks with seven and has tallied 52 total tackles this season. Roy follows closely behind with 45 total tackles. Both players will provide extreme pressure on Texas’ faltering offensive line.
Baylor’s defense is strong on all sides as the No. 1 scoring defense in the Big 12. Similar to Iowa State, Baylor plays with a three-man front while dropping their defensive players into coverage. Herman said this poses some major problems for Texas’ passing game.
“They're not the biggest guys, but man are they physical, and they can run — really, really run — and will hit you,” Herman said. “Again, there's eight of them back there with only three down linemen.”
What makes Baylor lethal is its strength on both sides of the ball, especially on offense. Junior quarterback Charlie Brewer, brother of Texas tight end junior Cade Brewer, has shown steady improvement in his three years at Baylor. He has recorded 18 touchdowns for the Bears while rushing for 276 yards. Brewer is also a solid passer, with 195 completions on 292 attempts.
Freshman defensive lineman Keondre Coburn has seen Brewer’s progress over the years.
“I've been playing against him since high school,” Coburn said. “We lost to him in a playoff. He can run. He is similar to Sam. He can throw, he can run, he is a very smart quarterback and they got a good one over there.”
Brewer’s pass options are strong, especially in senior wide receiver Denzel Mims and sophomore receiver Tyquan Thornton. Containing Mims will be a challenge for Texas’ aching secondary, and his performance against Iowa State and Oklahoma have been a factor in Baylor’s success.
Although the Longhorns will play only an hour and a half from home, the Baylor atmosphere will be fierce. Against the backdrop of McLane Stadium, they will try to stay afloat against one of the strongest teams in their conference.
“This conference is good,” Coburn said. “You see it every week. You never know the spectrum of a team. You just got to keep playing harder than the other opponent, and that’s how it is in this conference. This conference is really good. Every team is really good, so you just gotta hope that it’s better on your end, just keep playing hard.”