The no. 22 Baylor Bears will put their undefeated record on the line as they entertain the rival Texas Tech Red Raiders. Game time is set for 4:00 EST on Saturday, October 12 at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas. The game is being broadcast on FS1.
If we check the Week 7 college football odds, the Bears are 10-point favorites at home. There is also an over/under of 58 points for the game between Baylor and Texas Tech.
Among the undefeated teams left, Baylor is one of the most surprising. But they look more and more for real with every passing week. It was easy to scoff at non-conference wins against Texas-San Antonio and Rice. However, Big 12 wins over Iowa State and Kansas State have been no fluke, especially a convincing 31-12 road win against K-State last week. With a win this week, the Bears can lock up bowl eligibility and perhaps start thinking about a run at the Big 12 Championship Game.
Of course, we should pump the brakes just a little bit. The Bears have yet to face any of their Big 12 rivals from the state of Texas. On the other hand, Baylor’s most challenging games this year come at home, starting this week with Texas Tech.
As for the Red Raiders, they are fresh off an upset win over a ranked Oklahoma State team last week. It was a much-needed win for Texas Tech after back-to-back losses to Arizona and Oklahoma. Last week’s win was all the more impressive with backup quarterback Jett Duffey filling in for the injured Alan Bowman, who is not yet ready to return.
At 3-2, the Red Raiders need three more wins in their final seven games to get to a bowl game under new coach Matt Wells. There’s still plenty of time to get there, but Texas Tech would love to take advantage of some of the momentum gained from last week’s win and carry it into Waco with them.
After 10 years of this rivalry being played on a neutral site, it’s finally back on campus. Baylor has won six of the last eight meetings between the two teams, meaning the all-time series is tied with 38 wins apiece. The winner of Saturday’s game will take a lead in the all-time series, at least for one year, giving both teams all of the motivation they need.
I was ready to jump on the Baylor bandwagon before last week’s win over Kansas State and surely there’s no reason to jump off now. I think the Bears are for real and capable of winning games on both sides of the ball. I can’t say the same for Texas Tech, so I’ll take my chances with Baylor being able to cover 10 points at home.
Defense has been the biggest reason for Baylor’s success during the early part of the season. The Bears have held every opponent to 21 points or less, giving up an average of 15 points per game. If not for a late run by Iowa State a couple of weeks ago, Baylor’s defensive numbers would be even better. They’ve also forced two turnovers in each of their last two games against Big 12 opponents, which is another strong indicator of their defensive prowess.
To be fair, I’m not expecting Baylor to shut out Texas Tech. The Red Raiders have no shortage of talent on the offensive side of the ball. However, both Arizona and Oklahoma held the Red Raiders to 16 points or less. Duffey is not quite the accomplished passer that Bowman is, which was apparent in the Oklahoma loss. In his defense, Duffey had a strong showing last week, throwing for over 400 yards and four touchdowns against Oklahoma State. But I think a solid defense can get the better of Duffey and the Texas Tech defense, perhaps holding the Red Raiders to 20 points or less.
Meanwhile, the Baylor offense has been solid if unspectacular all season. This isn’t the same explosive offense the Bears had during the early part of the decade. But Charlie Brewer is growing into one of the most competent and trustworthy quarterbacks in the Big 12. He’s completed over 65% of his passes this year and is yet to throw an interception. With a receiver like Denzel Mims and a solid backfield duo in John Lovett and JaMycal Hasty, I’m not worried about Brewer being able to lead the Baylor offense into the end zone against Texas Tech.
There’s also the matter of the Texas Tech defense. Even with five turnovers last week, they still allowed 35 points against Oklahoma State. Meanwhile, Baylor has only turned it over three times in five games. The Red Raiders won’t be able to count on getting takeaways this week, which is why I think they’ll struggle to keep the Bears contained over 60 minutes.
All things considered, I think the Baylor defense is good enough to keep Texas Tech under wraps. The Bears will be able to avoid a shootout and should eventually find success against a lackluster Texas Tech defense. With the home crowd behind them and a ton of confidence after starting 5-0, I’ll eat the points and lean toward Baylor to cover the spread against their rivals.