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Game Preview: #9 Texas vs. Baylor

Texas hopes to defeat an improving Baylor squad on Saturday

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USA TODAY Sports

The #9 Texas Longhorns put a five-game winning streak and an undefeated conference record on the line when they host the Baylor Bears on Saturday in Austin. Texas hasn’t held a top 10 national ranking since week four of the 2010 season, and has not been ranked this high in their seventh game of the season since 2009. The Bears and second-year head coach Matt Rhule will try and upset the Longhorns by relying on the skills of quarterback Charlie Brewer, who leads an offense that averages 35.8 points and 500 yards of offense per game.  Texas has beaten Baylor in three straight, including a 38-7 win in Waco last season. A win for Texas makes them bowl eligible and keeps the goal of a Big 12 Championship alive, while a win for Baylor would serve as Rhule’s signature win during his time in Waco. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.

What:  Texas Longhorns (5-1, 3-0 Big 12) vs. Baylor Bears (4-2, 2-1 Big-12)
When:  Saturday, October 12, 2018
Time:  2:30 PM CST
Venue:  Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium
Location: Austin, Texas
Television: ESPN

THE COACHES

Baylor Bears

Head Coach:  Matt Rhule
Head Coaching Experience: 6th year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Baylor:  2
Career Record:  33-36
Career Record at Baylor:  5-13

Texas Longhorns

Head Coach:  Tom Herman
Head Coaching Experience: 4th year as a head coach
Years as Head Coach at Texas:  2
Career Record:  34-11
Career Record at Texas:  12-7

Ehlinger continues to shine

Texas QB Sam Ehlinger has passed for at least 200 yards in every game he has started, tying Vince Young for the seventh-most in school history. The sophomore quarterback accounted for five touchdowns in the win over 7th ranked Oklahoma last week, throwing for 314 yards and rushing for 72 yards. More impressive is Ehlinger’s lack of turnovers. Since throwing an interception late in the game against Maryland, Ehlinger has attempted a school-record 163 consecutive passes without an interception. His smart play on the field has continued to produce dividends for the Longhorns, who average 414 yards of offense per game.

Baylor’s Run Defense

Baylor ranks 98th out of 129 FBS teams in rushing and gives up 193 rushing yards per game. Texas hasn’t had a player surpass the century mark in rushing in a game this season.  This could change on Saturday, as Texas’ offensive game plan will include heavy doses of Tre Watson and Keaontay Ingram. Ingram led the team in rushing against Oklahoma, with 86 yards on 13 carries. Additionally, the Texas offensive line seems to be playing as a more cohesive unit, giving Ehlinger more time in the pocket and creating holes for the running backs. Expect Ingram to potentially have a big day on the ground.

Charlie Brewer and the Baylor Offense

Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer has started the last 10 games for the Bears, dating back to the 2017 season. Brewer is 5-5 as a starter, but manages to put up impressive numbers under center. The sophomore, who won a state championship at nearby Lake Travis High School, is averaging 473 yards of offense as a starter, and has thrown 18 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has an array of receivers at his disposal, including Denzel Mims and Jalen Hurd. Mims needs just three receptions to become the 18th player in program history to record 100 catches. Hurd, a transfer from Tennessee, ranks 9th among all active FBS players with 3,972 all-purpose yards and has 31 touchdowns in his career.

Texas head coach Tom Herman recognizes what Brewer brings to the table, and knows his defense will have to play their best to limit Brewer’s success.

“He’s really good. Has a chance to be special. He’s a true sophomore. I can’t say enough about his development. We saw him as a true freshman. They’ve opened up the offense a little bit more, that’s undeniable. That’s a credit to their coaching staff, too, for recognizing the personnel that they have and the fact that they’ve got a really, really, really, really good quarterback.”

The Bears’ offense ranks 12th among Power 5 schools in total offense (499.5 ypg) & 8th among Power 5 schools in passing (325.5 ypg). Todd Orlando’s defense will need to be at the top of their game to slow an offense that has the potential to do damage quickly. Baylor holds the top ranking in the Big 12 in total offense, and averages a whopping 28 first downs per game.

Summary

The Longhorns continue to play solid football and are improving each week, thanks to the play of quarterback Sam Ehlinger. Ehlinger’s leadership in the huddle has been embraced, and it has paid dividends on the field. Baylor is hungry, and a win over a Top-10 ranked Texas program would set a positive tone for the second half of the season.

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Aaron Carrara is the founder and publisher of HornSports and has covered University of Texas athletics since 2011. Aaron is a member of the Football Writer's Association of America and the U.S. Basketball Writer's Association and is a proud father to three boys.

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