Five questions facing Texas on Saturday afternoon against No. 14 Baylor:
1. Will UT’s running game get back on track?
It appeared that Texas had gained some traction in its running game for perhaps the first time in Tom Herman’s tenure. Keaontay Ingram had 100-yard games against Oklahoma State, Kansas and Kansas State while the team unearthed a gem in former quarterback Roschon Johnson. But in last week’s loss at Iowa State, Texas ran 26 times for 54 yards. That was UT’s worst rushing effort since 2017. It won’t be easy rebounding against a top-40 run defense (137.2 yards per game).
2. Will Devin Duvernay make Baylor pay for his Biletnikoff snub?
Duvernay has 1,017 receiving yards and ranks second nationally in receptions, yet he was not among the 12 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award. Texas coach Tom Herman called the omission a “shame” and quarterback Sam Ehlinger said that Duvernay has “proven that he’s doing an excellent job this year, better than a lot of guys around the country.” In three games against a Baylor program he was once committed to, Duvernay has caught only two passes.
3. Will turnovers become a storyline for the Texas offense?
One year removed from an 11-turnover season, Texas has already given away the football 12 times in 2019. The Longhorns have only committed one turnover in the two games since Ehlinger’s four-interception performance against TCU, however. On the other hand, Baylor has forced 21 turnovers over its 10 games. Only eight teams have produced more nationally. (Illinois leads the nation with 26).
4. Can the defense limit the big plays?
In each of its last two games, Texas has seen its opponent book a long trip to the end zone. Kansas State’s third play on Nov. 9 was a 70-yard touchdown catch. Against Iowa State last week, the Cyclones opened the second half with a 75-yard score. According to cfbstats.com, the Texas defense has surrendered eight 50-yard plays. The 42-31 win over West Virginia on Oct. 5 was the last time that Texas didn’t give up a 50-yard play.
5. Will this game be decided in the final seconds?
Texas has won four straight games against Baylor. Three of those have been decided by six points or less. In 2016, Texas earned a 35-34 upset win over the eighth-ranked Bears thanks to Trent Domingue’s 39-yard field goal with 46 seconds left. Last year, Baylor threw three incomplete passes into the end zone from the Texas 17 at the end of the Longhorns’ 23-17 triumph. This season, Texas is 3-3 in one-score games. Baylor is 5-1 and has won two overtime battles.