Case McCoy bounced back against Texas Tech, throwing for 139 yards and two touchdowns while running for another score. It was the first time since early October that McCoy had not thrown an interception. McCoy’s performance has been heavily reliant on the success of his running backs. Baylor’s No. 26 rush defense may force McCoy to step into a role he has not handled well this season. Heisman candidate Bryce Petty, who has rushed for 11 touchdowns this season, has fewer pass attempts than the Texas starters and averages 11.2 yards per attempt, the most in the country. McCoy hasn’t averaged 11.2 yards per pass attempt in any single game this year. Petty threw for 206 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in worst performance this season against TCU last week.
Joe Bergeron proved he could fill in for the injured Johnathan Gray with a 102-yard, one-touchdown performance in the 41-16 win over Texas Tech. Malcolm Brown supplemented Bergeron’s play with a 128-yard game, his third time topping the century mark this season. Baylor gave up 122 yards to a struggling TCU backfield and have struggled against the leading rushing teams in the Big 12, giving up 327 yards to Kansas State and 154 to Oklahoma State. Lache Seastrunk returned from a groin injury with a 92-yard first half in the 41-38 win over TCU. Seastrunk had rushed for 869 yards in just seven weeks when he went down in the first half against Oklahoma. Freshman Shock Linwood picked up the slack with back-to-back 180-yard games against the Sooners and Texas Tech. Seastrunk is healthy and again the featured back and, along with Linwood, will present the Texas defense their toughest backfield this season.
Since catching just nine passes in October, Mike Davis has totaled 315 yards and three touchdowns, two of them for more than 45 yards, in the last three games. Jaxon Shipley had been consistent before not recording a catch for the first time in his career against Texas Tech. Daje Johnson returns after serving a one-game suspension. Antwan Goodley already has more than 1,000 yards and 12 touchdown receptions on the season, averaging 20.4 yards per catch. Tevin Reese averaged 25 yards per catch before suffering a season-ending wrist injury but Levi Norwood has stepped up with 400 yards and five touchdowns in Reese’s four-week absence. Petty has plenty of explosive options with four receivers that have caught touchdown passes of more than 50 yards.
Baylor, who gave up three sacks to TCU last week, has an offensive line that includes Outland Trophy finalist Cyril Richardson and that will face a Texas team that has a Big 12-best 35 sacks this year, nine of them against Texas Tech. The Longhorns have allowed the 20th-fewest sacks in the nation this year, giving up just two in their last two games. Their main concern will be establishing a run game against a defense that allows just 133 rush yards per game. Texas needs to protect McCoy well to do that.
Baylor has six sacks in the last three games, three of them coming against Texas Tech. Chris McAllister leads them with 6.5 sacks this season. The Bears have the nation’s No. 26 run defense and rank No. 30 in sacks. Stopping the Texas run game will be Baylor’s main concern. The Texas defensive line provided six of the nine sacks by the Longhorn defense against Texas Tech. Senior Jackson Jeffcoat had a career-high three sacks and junior Cedric Reed tied his career-high with two. The Longhorns have mixed performances against the Big 12’s top pass protectors as Oklahoma State shut them out while Texas had three sacks against Oklahoma. Jeffcoat and Co. also face the country’s No. 11 run offense, their stiffest test since playing BYU.
Texas held Texas Tech to its second-fewest yards this season, with Dalton Santos making six tackles, most among linebackers. 51 of the Red Raiders’ 94 rushing yards came on a 51-yard fake punt for a touchdown. Seastrunk and Linwood make for the best backfield the Longhorns have faced this year. Eddie Lackey leads the Baylor linebackers with 84 tackles on the season and has 18 tackles and 1.5 sacks in the last two games, and scored on a 54-yard interception return against TCU. Brody Trahan tied a career high with seven tackles last week against TCU. The Bears have allowed 414 rushing yards in their last three games but haven’t faced a team reliant on the run since playing Oklahoma, who ran for only 87 yards. Baylor’s linebackers will need a similar performance to keep Texas from pulling off the upset.
Texas held Texas Tech’s top-ranked pass offense to 302, almost 100 yards under their average, boosting its confidence heading into its game against Baylor, who has the nation’s No. 4 pass offense. Duke Thomas picked off his third pass of the year against the Red Raiders and will help Texas try to slow down Petty, who has thrown just two interceptions all season. Reese’s absence works in the Longhorns’ favor but Goodley will be the most dominant receiver the Longhorns have faced this year. Baylor safety Orion Stewart broke out with an 82-yard interception return for a touchdown against TCU. The Bears picked Casey Pachall off twice, increasing their season’s interception total to 15, nine of them coming in the last six games. McCoy has been turnover-prone recently, meaning a successful Baylor pass rush and rush defense could force him into uncomfortable throws and more turnovers.
The special teams struggles continue to pile on for Texas as Texas Tech punter Ryan Erxleben turned a fake punt into a 51-yard rushing touchdown. The Longhorns allowed a 33-yard kick return to the Red Raiders’ Jordan Davis and are now fifth-worst in the country in average kickoff return yards allowed — an improvement from the a week ago. Anthony Fera provided a silver lining, making a 49-yard field goal. Baylor’s Corey Coleman has a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and Norwood has two punt return touchdowns on the season. Both will give a struggling Texas coverage team issues and could provide the difference in the game.