The Texas Tech Red Raiders will face the Baylor Bears at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Heading into the conference battle, both teams have a losing record. Tech is 4-5 on the season and the Bears are 1-8.
Last year, Tech defeated the Bears, 54-35, to close out the season on Friday, Nov. 25.
This year, Tech is battling in the next three games for bowl eligibility, and the sense of urgency is as high as it can be, sophomore offensive lineman Travis Bruffy said.
“We’ve had some disappointing games, all of us. We’ve fell up short,” Bruffy said. “This is not the way we expected things to go, but I feel like our focal point and the leadership on the team has been responding to adversity. It’s something you’re going to have to learn in life whether you learn it now in college football or down the road.”
On the other hand, the Bears offense has two quarterbacks: sophomore Zach Smith and freshman Charlie Brewer. Smith has passed for 1,458 yards and eight touchdowns with seven interceptions this season, and Brewer has passed for 646 yards and five touchdowns with one interception, according to Baylor Athletics. In terms of rushing, Brewer has 81 yards this season.
However, this is not the first time Tech has faced Smith. During last year’s game, he passed for 377 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. Also among the quarterbacks for Baylor is senior Anu Solomon, who has passed for 399 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions, according to Baylor Athletics.
“I was impressed facing (Smith) last year. Big, strong kid, has a good arm, threw for a bunch of yards this year,” Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “And then Brewer is very elusive, can extend plays. For a young player, really takes care of the football well, and I think that's what they like about him. He's made some plays with his feet, and every time he's in there, he's seemed to move the ball.”
However, the Baylor team has a different head coach this year as Matt Rhule took over the Bears on Wednesday, Dec. 7, according to Baylor Athletics. He is the 27th coach to lead the Baylor Bears in their history.
So far this season, Baylor’s only win came against the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday, Nov. 4, in Lawrence, Kansas, 38-9.
“New coach, new philosophy, new schemes. The one thing that's been impressive is how they've gotten better throughout the year,” Kingsbury said. “I think when you have a new coach come in and he's instilling everything he wants in his program, that's going to take some time when you tear it down to build it back up. But, that's the path they're on, and they played the best game of the year last week, and that's what you want as a head coach.”
Besides the passing game, Rhule has also led the Bears offensively to score 25.9 points per game. The Bears have rushed for 121 yards per game and passed for 280.3 yards per game, according to Baylor Athletics. The rushing game is led by freshman running back John Lovett, who has rushed for 405 yards and five touchdowns this season. Junior running back Terence Williams follows with 246 rushing yards and one touchdown.
Baylor’s sophomore wide receiver Denzel Mims leads the team with 43 receptions for 849 yards and seven touchdowns, according to Baylor Athletics. Junior wide receiver Chris Platt follows with 16 receptions for 401 yards and five touchdowns.
“They're very skilled. They've been a little loose with the ball, causing them to turn the ball over. But when they're on, they're on,” junior defensive back Jah’Shawn Johnson said. “They have, I think it's No. 15 (Mims), the receiver. He's done a tremendous job of creating explosive plays for them.”
Defensively for Baylor, the Bears have allowed opponents to score 36.1 points per game, according to Baylor Athletics. Opponents have rushed for 206.9 yards per game and have passed for 272.6 yards per game.
So far this season, the Bears’ defense has three interceptions, seven forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries. Junior defensive tackle Ira Lewis leads the team with 4.5 sacks, and senior linebacker Taylor Young has three, according to Baylor Athletics. In tackles, sophomore linebacker Clay Johnston leads the team with 54 total tackles and nine tackles for loss. He also leads with three quarterback hurries. Junior defensive end Greg Roberts has blocked two kicks this season.
“Obviously, they aren’t having the season they want to have, but they play hard,” Bruffy said. “They have the talent definitely to give us a shock if we take them lightly, and they have our utmost respect, our utmost attention. We’re going to come out with full force.”