Baylor at Texas

The Sports Xchange

October 10, 2018 at 5:34 pm.

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas
TV: ESPN
SERIES: Texas leads Baylor 77-26-4 and has won three straight in the series.
RANKINGS: Texas No. 9

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Bears

–QB Charlie Brewer came up big in the fourth quarter against Kansas State, tossing a touchdown pass to Denzel Mims to tie the game and connecting on 5-of-5 passes for 44 yards on the game-winning drive. He finished with 296 passing yards, a TD and an interception.

–WR Jalen Hurd showed up as the Bears’ most valuable offensive player against Kansas State, catching 11 passes for 135 yards and also running eight times for 57 yards and a touchdown.

–DT James Lynch continues to be a disruptive force in the. He made five tackles against Kansas State, including a sack for 8 yards and another TFL for a 2-yard loss.

–WR Denzel Mims, who posted a season-high for catches against Oklahoma, had another excellent game in the win over Kansas State. He caught eight balls for 90 yards, including a circus catch in the corner of the end zone that pulled Baylor even with the Wildcats in the fourth quarter.

Longhorns

–QB Sam Ehlinger totaled 386 yards and five touchdowns in the 48-45 victory over No. 7 Oklahoma. Ehlinger was 24-of-35 for 314 yards and two touchdowns through the air, while rushing for 72 yards and three scores on the ground. His five touchdowns were the most for a Longhorn quarterback in the Red River Showdown and a new career high. Ehlinger has now attempted a school-record 163 consecutive passes without throwing an interception, besting Major Applewhite’s previous school record of 156 set in 1999.

–WR Collin Johnson, a junior, had six catches for 81 yards against Oklahoma, including a two-yard TD pass from fellow wideout Lil’Jordan Humphrey. He has 31 catches for 431 yards and four TDs combined in the first six games.

–WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey caught a career-high nine passes for a career-high 133 yards and a touchdown in the OU game. He now has 981 career receiving yards. It was Humphrey’s third career 100-yard game. He also threw his first career touchdown pass on the Longhorns’ opening drive, connecting with WR Collin Johnson.

KEYS
TO THE GAME

Texas has improved from a stunning loser in Week 1 in Maryland to No. 9 in the country over the past five games on the strength of victories over three ranked teams and historically good play from quarterback Sam Ehlinger.

Now, one of the real challenges for the Longhorns (5-1, 3-0 in Big 12 play), beginning with this Saturday afternoon’s home game against Baylor at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, will be staying on course, blocking out the “noise” and continuing to improve.

That will be easier said than done. Texas coach Tom Herman said in his Monday media availability that he received 197 text messages in the 24 hours following the Longhorns’ thrilling 48-45 win over the seventh-ranked Sooners last week in the Red River Rivalry.

“With an 18- to 22-year-old kid that’s on probably four different social media platforms, I would imagine that his circle is being pulled in every direction to try to expand,” Herman said. “You need to tighten your circle in times like this, not expand it.”

Texas’ No. 9 ranking is its highest in the Associated Press poll since Week 4 of 2010. The Longhorns have not been ranked this high for their seventh game of a season since 2009.

“We’re banged up — these last four weeks have been kind of a bit of a meat grinder, if you will,” Herman said.

“I’m maybe the most proud of how the team came to work yesterday. They came ready to get better, understanding that we’re 0-0 against Baylor this week and that our preparation is what’s led us to where we’re at now.”

Herman said his team is not to the point where winning is an expectation.

“Winning right now is the fruit of the labor of the week of preparation, and it should be celebrated immensely, whether you’re beating Tulsa or Oklahoma, it doesn’t matter,” Herman explained. “Winning is extremely difficult.”

Baylor (4-2, 2-1 in Big 12 play) heads south on Interstate 35 on the heels of a 37-34 gutsy home win over Kansas State that moved the Bears to within two victories of bowl eligibility.

For Baylor to stay with surging Texas, it has to keep the Longhorns from hitting home-run-type plays. In the Bears’ 66-33 loss to Oklahoma two weeks ago, the Sooners averaged more than 40 yards on six touchdown throws while Kansas State averaged better than 47 yards on four touchdown runs.

“We just have to play better,” Baylor coach Matt Rhule said. “As dumb as that may sound, as simple as that might sound, guys have to get off blocks and make some plays. We’re not really doing that at the highest level right now.

“We blitzed the run (against Kansas State), we man-blitzed the run, we did a bunch of different things,” Rhule added. “But it’s not any one guy, it’s not any one thing. It can be corrected, and it needs to be moving forward.”

The Longhorns and Bears meet for the 108th time on Saturday with Texas holding a 77-26-4 advantage over Baylor. Saturday’s meeting will be the 59th all-time played in Austin, the Longhorns own a 46-10-2 record against Baylor at home.

Texas has won three straight games against the Bears, their longest streak since winning 12 straight from 1998-2009.