Texas Football Game Breakdown: Scouting Week 4 at Baylor

Quinn Ewers, Texas football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Quinn Ewers, Texas football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The 2023 college football season is fast approaching, and the hype for Texas football in Year 3 of the Steve Sarkisian era is high. The Longhorns bring back 17 starters from a 2022 squad that won eight games and had flashes of greatness. Those flashes must become more consistent if the Horns want to leave their mark during their final season in the Big 12.

In July, Texas was selected atop the Big 12 Media Preseason Poll for the first time since 2009. The Horns received 41 of 63 first-place votes, ahead of Kansas State’s 14 and the four received by Oklahoma and Texas Tech. This solidified Texas as the program to beat in the Big 12 this fall.

The Longhorns first took the field for fall camp on Wednesday, Aug. 2. The hype for Texas football and the 2023 season has grown with every passing practice. I thought it would be apropos to take a game-by-game look at the Longhorns’ 2023 opponents, diving into every aspect of what Texas will face this fall.

Take a look at Texas’ three non-conference games I previewed earlier this month:

Texas opens its final slate of Big 12 conference play in Week Four against the Baylor Bears. The Sept. 23 matchup in Waco has yet to be assigned a kickoff time. According to ESPN’s matchup predictor, the Horns have a 71.3 percent chance of beating the Bears.

Here is everything you need to know about the 2023 Baylor Bears and their matchup against Texas.

Breaking down how Texas football matches up against the Baylor Bears.


Texas and Baylor will square off for the 79th consecutive year before temporarily ending a terrific in-state rivalry. The matchup has become much more competitive over the last decade, with the Horns winning six of the previous ten encounters. Texas has not won in Waco since 2017, drumming up the importance of this battle for both programs.

Head coach Dave Aranda enters his fourth season at Baylor looking to bounce back off a 6-7 season. The Bears Sugar Bowl win in 2021 set a high bar for the Baylor program, but an 0-5 record against top 25 teams in 2022 was their ultimate demise. The Bears return just eight starters and will rely on Coach Aranda’s player development to get back to their 2021 level.

Baylor was selected sixth in the Big 12 Preseason Poll and will be a team that has a say in the Big 12 title race this fall. Here’s everything you need to know about the 2023 Baylor Bears and how they match up with Texas.


Blake Shapen returns for his second full season as quarterback of the Bears. Like the Baylor offense, Shapen had a very up-and-down 2022 season. He fended off Mississippi State transfer Sawyer Robertson this spring and, by all accounts, has taken complete control of the offense this offseason. If he can limit turnovers (10 INT in 2022), Shapen has the tools to boost himself into the upper-echelon of Big 12 quarterbacks this fall.

Shapen will be helped by a solid group of receivers led by top returner Monaray Baldwin and Arkansas transfer Ketron Jackson. Former Texas commit Armani Winfield has a very high ceiling and should be an immediate contributor during his freshman season. The Bears’ speed on the outside will be a challenge to defend and force the Texas secondary into soft coverage.

The Baylor rushing attack will once again need to pace this offense if the Bears are to see success this fall. Richard Reese is back after tallying nearly 1000 yards and 14 touchdowns a season ago. The Offensive Big 12 Freshman of the Year has a bright future and is a true bell cow. Behind Reese, Oklahoma State transfer Dominic Richardson adds a nice change of pace to a run-heavy offense. Reese and Richardson form one of the most formidable running back duos in the Big 12.


Coach Aranda hangs his hat on the defensive side of the football and will have this unit primed for a bounce-back season. Last year the Baylor defense finished 62nd nationally in both passing and rushing. The real issue, however, was getting off the field. The Bears ranked 122nd in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert 45.8 percent of the time.

Gabe Hall and TJ Franklin return at the edge positions, having combined for 21.5 tackles for loss over the last two seasons. Former Longhorn Byron Vaughns will also be in the mix at edge. Replacing Siaki Ika at noseguard is a concern, but Coach Aranda typically tailors his defenses around roster strengths.

The secondary returns minimal production and will rely on Miami transfer Isaiah Dunson to be their No. 1 corner. Junior AJ McCarty has had a strong camp and has the chops to be a real difference-maker in the backend.

You have to expect Baylor will be better on third down this season, which will naturally raise them above the middle of the pack in total defense. That said, there are not a ton of names in this unit that scare me. The cohesion Coach Aranada coaches cannot be understated, but from what I see, the Longhorn offense matches up well here. I see a big game for Quinn Ewers if Kelvin Banks and Christian Jones can keep the Texas signal-caller upright.


Playing in Waco is never an easy task. That task will be heightened in 2023 as Coach Aranda and the Bears look to end a two-game skid against the Horns in what will likely be the last meeting between the two teams for a while.

This is not a game Texas fans should worry about the team sleeping through. Regardless of non-con results, the goal of winning a Big 12 title starts on Sept. 23 in Waco. The Horns will be ready to go and should be able to stave off a hungry Baylor bunch. – Texas 30 Baylor 20

Next. Predicting every Texas commit before the season. dark