Five key matchups to watch on Saturday:
TEXAS’ FRONT SEVEN VS. LAQUAN MCGOWAN
McGowan is the 410-pound tight end Baylor likes to use on the goal line. Both of his two catches have gone for touchdowns, but he’ll also line up as a battering ram on running plays. This week, Longhorns defensive coordinator Vance Bedford compared McGowan to a Clydesdale horse and his defensive backs to flies trying to pester him. It’ll take a swarm of flies to bring down this load.
TEXAS’ SECONDARY VS. BAYLOR’S TRACK STARS
Bedford’s comparisons didn’t end there. He likened Baylor receivers to a 400-meter relay team and wondered aloud how his young backs could stay with Corey Coleman (1,314 yards, 20 TDs), KD Cannon (802, 6) and Jay Lee (721, 8). It’ll be a monumental task for freshman corners Holton Hill and Davante Davis, but then again, it’s not a given Baylor will be able to get its play-makers the ball due to injuries at quarterback.
TEXAS’ BACKUP QB VS. BAYLOR’S THIRD-STRING QB
Tyrone Swoopes is making his first start since the season opener, when he lost his job after a poor showing at Notre Dame. He has remained involved offensively, running for 11 touchdowns in the 18 Wheeler package, but there are questions about his ability as the full-time QB. Baylor is down to its third option, Chris Johnson, following season-ending injuries to Seth Russell and Jarrett Stidham. In his first start last week, Johnson was impacted by a rain storm at TCU and finished 7 of 24 passing. Like Swoopes, Johnson is big and can run. Unlike Swoopes, he’s surrounded by play-makers.
CHRIS WARREN III VS. BAYLOR’S DEFENSIVE FRONT
It’s one thing to run over Texas Tech, but it’s another thing to do it against Baylor. Bears linemen Andrew Billings and Shawn Oakman will limit space with which Warren has to operate, so don’t expect another 267-yard, four-touchdown performance out of the freshman. Still, Warren will have his chances. Though he’s not speedy, if he gets by the big boys up front he’s strong enough to power through tacklers at the second level.
TEN WINS VS. EIGHT LOSSES
If Baylor wins, it’ll clinch its fourth 10-win season in the past five years. There’s been just one other 10-win season in program history, a 10-2 mark in 1980 under Grant Teaff. Texas has lost eight games just twice before; the 1938 team under Dana Bible went 1-8, and the 1956 team under Ed Price went 1-9.