Here is everything you need to know in our Baylor vs. Texas Tech preview and prediction.
11 a.m. Central Time, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
TV: FS1 (Sean Kelley, AJ Hawk, Pat McAfee)
Radio: Texas Tech: Texas Tech Sports Network; Baylor: Baylor IMG Sports Network / ESPN Central Texas; Satellite Radio: Sirius 108/XM 199
DT James Lynch
Lynch might be the most underrated player in the Big 12 Conference. He’s only a sophomore and he’s 7th in the Big 12 with 5.5 sacks and ranks 13th with nine tackles for loss. He will need to make his presence felt early to try and slow down one of the top scoring offenses in the Big 12.
WR/RB Jalen Hurd
Hurd, the former Tennesse running back has been very impressive as a wide receiver and a running back at Baylor. He has mostly played wide out, which is his preference, but he’s clearly shown to be a team player by being used in short-yardage or goal-line situations. His 6.0 receptions per game are 4th in the Big 12 and is 7th in receiving yards per game. Among active FBS players, Hurd ranks 10th with 4,257 all-purpose yards.
QB Jett Duffey… or whoever?
It doesn’t look like Alan Bowman or McLane Carter can or will play, so that means Kliff Kingsbury has to rely on Jett Duffey to get this team to a bowl game and potentially save his job. Against Texas two weeks ago, Duffey had over 500 yards of total offense, but then he struggled against K-State, with 150 passing yards and -8 rushing yards. Plus, fumbles have remained a problem for him as well.
Or does he? Reports are Duffey may be unable to go, leaving Kingsbury with fourth stringer Colt Garrett. Never heard of him? Neither have we. He’s a redshirt sophomore who was the scout team QB last season. Godspeed, young man.
Safety Jah’Shawn Johnson
Johnson might be playing in his last game as a Red Raider, if Tech can’t win a clinch a bowl game. He’s become a leader in the program and is just outside the top 10 in career tackles at Texas Tech. Johnson missed the first three weeks of the season, and while statistically he hasn’t had a great year, the defense improved drastically once he got back into the line up this season.
The Bears need to force some turnovers, something they haven’t done very much of this season. The Bears have forced a Big 12-worst seven turnovers and are -9 in turnover margin, which is also last in the conference. But that needs to change, especially with Jett Duffey (or Garrett) at quarterback, who has been careless in recent weeks. The past two games against Texas and Kansas State, Duffey has five fumbles and has lost three of them. He’s also tossed two interceptions over that stretch. That’s five turnovers for Duffey the past two weeks. So whether it’s Duffey or a guy with no career college passes, Baylor needs to force some TO’s. Also, in what is likely to be a high-scoring game, Baylor needs to do a better job in the red zone. The Bears have the worst red zone defense in the Big 12 with a 73.3% scoring rate.
The Red Raiders need to establish the running game against the worst run defense in the Big 12. The Bears are allowing 182 rushing yards per game, and Texas Tech’s run game has mediocre, at best, racking up 135 rushing yards per game, ranking 9th in the conference. But with the ball security issues for Jett Duffey, now is the time to start off with the running game and don’t ask too much of Duffey from the outset. Meantime, for as bad as Baylor’s red zone offense has been, Tech’s has been that good, ranking 36th in the country scoring on 88% of their apeparances inside the 20-yard line, up from 69% last season.
Prediction: Texas Tech 35, Baylor 31.
On a fast track, these two teams will put up points. But who is more likely to get that final stop or big turnover? I’ll give that to the Red Raiders, because they’ve proven to be able to do as much this season. Also, when it comes to motivation, Kliff Kingsbury is coaching in the final game of the regular season for bowl eligibility, and possibly for his job, for a second straight season. It would be disappointing of Baylor doesn’t go bowling, but it won’t be the end of the world. The Red Raiders hang on for a close one.
**Sign up here for our HCS weekly e-mails for a chance to win FREE Heartland College Sports and Big 12 team gear!!**