Here are five key Texas-Baylor matchups to watch on Saturday:
Texas’ receivers vs. Denzel Mims
There are only six other players in the country that have caught more touchdown passes this season than Mims, who’s hauled in seven. Texas has five touchdown catches altogether — and three of them belong to senior Armanti Foreman, who’s been benched. Reggie Hemphill-Mapps, the redshirt freshman who’s leading the team with 31 catches, left the loss last week to Oklahoma State with a sprained knee, but is expected to play.
Texas running backs vs. Baylor’s run defense
The best rushing performance so far by a Longhorn in Big 12 play? Chris Warren III’s 44-yard effort against Iowa State. The Longhorns rank seventh in the Big 12 in rushing. After the loss to Oklahoma State, Warren took the offense’s struggles upon himself: “We don’t have a running game. I think that we’re too one-dimensional, and that’s easy to predict …” The cure to what ails the Longhorns’ running game may be a Baylor defense that ranks 113th nationally against the run.
Texas’ left side vs. Baylor’s right side
Defensive ends Charles Omenihu and Breckyn Hager are tied for the team lead with 3 sacks each, and they’ve got a chance to grow those numbers on Saturday — Baylor is allowing 3.1 sacks per game. The right side of the Bears’ offensive line is the most experienced, so can 332-pound right guard Blake Blackmar, 300-pound right tackle Patrick Lawrence and the 38 career starts between them keep those Longhorns rushers off their quarterback?
Tom Herman vs. Matt Rhule
This game features two of the three new head coaches that were hired by Big 12 schools in the offseason. Herman, who came to Texas from Houston, and Rhule, who was hired from Temple, are both off to slow starts. They entered this season with career records of 22-4 and 28-23 and Herman and Rhule have crossed paths before — Herman’s Cougars beat Rhule’s Owls in the 2015 American Athletic Conference championship game.
The traveling Horns vs. the hosting Bears
Yes, Baylor is 0-7. But the Bears are playing well at home. In four games at McLane Stadium, the Bears have lost by scoring margins of 2 (No. 23 West Virginia), 3 (Liberty), 7 (UTSA) and 8 (No. 3 Oklahoma) points. Texas’ 17-7 win at Iowa State last month is looking better and better, but the Longhorns are still only 3-9 in true road games since 2015. One of those wins, though, was in Waco.
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