The (6-5) Baylor Bears will pay a visit to the (7-4) Texas Longhorns this Friday for one of the last remaining games between these schools as Big 12 opponents. Baylor lost on a last-second field goal to TCU last week, while UT romped to victory over Kansas 55-14. The Longhorns are 9-point spread favorites, and the game total is 56 points.
Baylor still has confidence but that alone isn't enoughBaylor showed it has no quit in it, bouncing back from a 31-3 loss to 19th-ranked Kansas State with a stellar performance against College Football Playoff contender Texas Christian. The end result wasn't what the Bears hoped for, but it should give them a much-needed confidence boost before their finale versus Texas. As painful as it was, there were encouraging signs, especially the touchdowns scored by two freshmen, tight end Kelsey Johnson and running back Richard Reese, in the fourth quarter that put the Bears ahead 28-20. QB Blake Shapen had a solid game (269 passing yards and a score), and junior Craig Williams toted the rock 19 times for 112 rush yards.
Moral victories aside, defending Big 12 champion Baylor has had a disappointing 2022 season. It was ranked in the top ten at the start of the year but lost three of its first six games, including key games versus BYU and Oklahoma State. It did get its season back on track with wins over Kansas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma, but it couldn't keep its momentum against Kansas State. The 28-point rout was a no-show from Baylor, which was tied with KSU and Texas for second place in the Big 12 and in contention for a spot in the conference title game.
Baylor is averaging 34.2 points, 202.7 rushing yards, 240.2 passing yards, and 442.9 total yards per game this season. The top 25 ground game is led by Reese (908 rush yards and 14 TDs) and Williams (530 rush yards and 4 TDs). Sophomore Monaray Baldwin (530 receiving yards and 4 TDs) and senior Gavin Holmes (470 yards and 3 TDs) pace the Bears' pass-catchers. The defense is surrendering 25.5 points per game and 367.5 total yards per game, recording 12 takeaways and generating 19 sacks.
Texas is better than its record indicates, but does that even matter?Texas didn't have the type of season some thought it could, especially after its near win over top-ranked Alabama in week two. Since that game, UT has lost three more times, crucial matchups on the road at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, and home against TCU. The Longhorns weren't healthy all year, but excuses aren't for winners.
Losers in two of its past four, Texas could use a statement win in its finale over Baylor to prove the program is still headed in the right direction under head coach Steve Sarkisian. It's coming into the game with plenty of motivation and momentum, having just won by 41 points. Bijan Robinson ran all over the Jayhawks' defense in the victory, totaling 243 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 9.7 yards per carry — a significant uptick from the 2.4 yards per carry he averaged in the previous game versus TCU (12 carries for 29 yards).
Went on the road and brought home a W 🤘🎥 pic.twitter.com/MLnHQwn4G0— Texas Football (@TexasFootball) November 22, 2022
However, it will take more than Robinson for the Longhorns to take care of the Bears this week. Baylor is solid against the run and boasts a top-30 scoring offense with a top-25 ground game of its own. Quarterback Quinn Ewers has not passed for more than 200 yards in any of the past three games and has passed for over 300 yards just once — in the 41-34 loss to Oklahoma State. He's done a fine job taking care of the football (14-6 TD to INT rate), but he's fallen short of the massive expectations put on his shoulders as a five-star recruit.
The Texas defense has also underachieved in 2022, especially against the pass. The Longhorns are ranked 93rd nationally in that department, surrendering 244.5 passing yards per contest. Their eight total takeaways are the 82nd-most in the country, too.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Baylor's soul was crushed down the stretch, especially last week in its near upset of fourth-ranked TCU. The Longhorns have as much talent as the Bears, which hasn't been the case in some recent matchups between these historic rivals. Texas isn't cruising to wins yet with its plethora of phenom underclassmen but should be well on its way towards achieving more on the field in the coming years. The Longhorns got their groove back versus Kansas, and recent trends suggest they will carry their momentum into the following matchup. UT is 7-1 ATS in its last eight games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
I believe Quinn Ewers is a talented passer with star upside and that he'll show that in the Longhorns' regular-season finale against a Bears pass defense ranked 83rd in the country (263.3 yards per contest). We know what Bijan Robinson brings to the table, as well. As a fan of traditional powers playing up to their potential, it would be nice to see Texas return to its former glory at some point soon. Beating Baylor won't mean Texas is back, but it would still be a step in the right direction.
My bet: Texas -9.
Full-Game Total Pick
The over, 4-0 in the Bears' last four road games, is my bet in this matchup. Ewers has only passed for over 300 yards once this year, but he should double that after defeating Baylor. The Longhorns get after the passer (24 sacks) and feature some serious talent on the defensive side of the ball that's ready to break out. In season finales, we tend to see underclassmen flash, giving us an expectation of what they could achieve in the coming years. This game will be close enough to get the best out of both teams, too. I'll bet the over in Austin, with Robinson rushing for a couple of touchdowns, Ewers passing for two-plus, and Baylor scoring a few touchdowns on the ground with Reese and Williams.
My bet: Over 56 total points scored.