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Baylor vs. TCU: Preview and Prediction

TCU and Baylor mascots

Here is everything you need to know about the Big 12 game between TCU (4-6, 2-5 in Big 12) and Baylor (5-5, 3-4).

Game info

11 a.m. Central Time, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, McLane Stadium, Waco, Texas

TV: FS1 (Justin Kutcher, DeMarco Murray and Petros Papadakis)

Radio: TCU: WBAP 820 AM, KTCU 88.7 FM; Baylor: Baylor IMG Sports Network / ESPN Central Texas; Satellite Radio: Sirius 106 / XM 200

 

Key players

TCU

WR Jalen Reagor. In a season that is becoming increasingly forgettable, Reagor is one of the Horned Frogs’ true bright spots on offense. Reagor leads the Horned Frogs with 60 receptions, 884 yards and seven touchdowns and he needs only 116 yards to become the fourth player in TCU history to reach 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Additionally, Reagor has a touchdown catch in each of his last five games, tied for third-longest in the nation.

DE Ben Banogu. With five defensive starters out due to injury, Banogu continues to shine. Leads TCU with 6.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, 8 quarterback hurries, 2 fumble recoveries and 1 forced fumble. But he can’t be everywhere.  

LB Garrett Wallow. The youngster is proving to be a huge asset in run defense. Forty of Wallow’s 65 tackles have come stopping the run, the third-best percentage of anyone on the team (Arico Evans and Ridwan Issahaku both have higher percentages but have fewer overall stops than Wallow).

QB Mike Collins. The former Ivy Leaguer (Penn) has completed about 60 percent of his passes in three starts, with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception, along with 759 yards. This is Collins’ chance to show he’s a true candidate for the 2019 starting job.    

Baylor

QB Charlie Brewer. Brewer really is this team’s primary driver on offense, especially when you consider that the Bears don’t have a Top 10 rusher in the Big 12. Brewer is No. 6 in total offense per game. Despite the loss to the Cyclones last weekend, Brewer threw for 288 yards and 2 touchdowns and rushed for another 70 yards. The TCU defense was particularly nasty to Brewer last year when he was a true freshman. He’ll be the difference-maker for this offense on Saturday.

WR Denzel Mims. Jalen Hurd may lead the Bears in receiving, but it’s best not to forget about Mims, who is also among the Big 12 leaders in receiving yards per game and has 62 receptions in 10 games. He has an outside chance at clearing 1,000 yards receiving (he’s at 837 now.).  

S Verkedric Vaughns. Vaughns led the Bears in tackles last week (7 solo, 6 assists). Vaughns is the Bears’ second-leading tackler this season and has four tackles for loss. The Bears will need another big game from him on Saturday.

KR Josh Fleeks. Fleeks has turned into a solid return man this season. He’s coming off a 15.7-yard average against Iowa State.

 

Key storylines

Last year’s 45-22 win in Waco gave TCU a 54-52-7 series lead over Baylor. … TCU and Baylor have met 113 times in their history. TCU has a winning record against Baylor in Waco (27-24-1). … The first game between these two teams, played in 1899, ended in a 0-0 tie. … The former Southwest Conference rivals have played each other 10 times since the league’s breakup after the 1995 season, with TCU owning a 7-3 advantage.

TCU

With one more loss the Horned Frogs would fail to reach bowl eligibility for 2018. The Horned Frogs have been bowl-eligible 15 times in head coach Gary Patterson’s 17 seasons and have been bowl-eligible 18 of the last 20 seasons. The Horned Frogs last failed to reach bowl eligibility in 2013. TCU’s defense has been its usual self, despite the injuries to five starters. The Horned Frogs are among the Top 3 in Big 12 defensive categories, including passing defense and passing defense efficiency. It’s the offense that has been a blow to TCU this season. The Horned Frogs haven’t cleared 30 points in conference play and have won their two league games by scores of 17-14 and 14-13.

Baylor

For the second straight week, the Bears will take a shot earning bowl eligibility for the first time under head coach Matt Rhule. When the Bears win, they win by scoring big-time points. In their five wins they’ve averaged 38 points. In their five losses the Bears have averaged 21 points. The Bears are 4-1 at home this season, and the Bears haven’t scored fewer than 26 points in any of those four wins. The one home loss came against Duke and saw the Bears score 27 points. And, while the Bears are understandably 0-4 against ranked teams, they’re 5-1 against unranked teams.

Prediction: Baylor 33, TCU 23. This one is tough. TCU’s defense has proven that it can carry the Horned Frogs at times this season. But the offense is so inconsistent right now that I can’t see how the TCU defense holds up for 60 minutes on the road without more support than it’s getting. In four true road games the Horned Frogs have given up 25.5 points per game. But it’s a bit misleading. In their last two true road games (Kansas, West Virginia) the Horned Frogs have allowed 37 points per game. I think this is because the TCU defense is more beat up now than it was a month ago. Plus, Baylor has been consistently good at home all season. Even their one home loss saw them score 27 points against Duke. Baylor’s comfort at home and their great record against unranked teams, I believe, puts them in position for the win over Saturday.

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