Texas football opens up Big 12 play on Sep. 23 on the road at McLane Stadium in Waco, TX, against head coach Dave Aranda and the struggling Baylor Bears. For the second time this season, Texas and head coach Steve Sarkisian will get to play on the road under the lights in primetime. The first was in the double-digit win on the road in Tuscaloosa over the No. 3 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide and head coach Nick Saban on Sep. 9.
No. 3 Texas comes into conference play riding high after three straight double-digit wins. The Longhorns are coming off a bit of an upset scare at home at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Sep. 16 against the Wyoming Cowboys and longtime head coach Craig Bohl. Texas rallied to a 21-point win behind a three-score edge in an explosive fourth quarter against Wyoming last weekend.
Baylor isn’t riding nearly as high as the Longhorns heading into Big 12 play. Aranda and the Bears boast a record of 1-2 (0-0 Big 12) after their first win of the season on Sep. 16 at home over FCS Long Island, 30-7. Baylor fell short of the Utah Utes and Texas State Bobcats at home in the season’s first two games.
Why Texas football dominates Baylor in the Big 12 opener in Week 4
On paper, Texas looks like a massive favorite over a down Baylor team early in the season. But Texas has a big-time target on its back this season. It will never be as easy as just walking out in the Big 12 opener on the road and beating a longtime in-state conference foe like Baylor.
But there’s still a chance that Texas can do what is expected and take care of business this weekend convincingly. Here are four reasons why.
Texas can run over Baylor’s struggling run defense
Easily the worst run defense in the Big 12 to start the season is Baylor’s. The Bears allowed six yards per carry and well over 200 rushing yards per game in non-conference play. And two of those games came against an FCS foe and a mid-tier Group of Five team.
Utah ran the ball right down Baylor’s throat in Week 2, amassing over 125 rushing yards and over six yards per carry in the A and/or B gaps. Texas State had similar success running between the tackles against Baylor in the opener, tallying over 100 rushing yards and over seven yards per carry in the A and/or B Gaps.
Texas can take advantage of its size up front by running downhill between the tackles on Baylor this weekend. The Longhorns average over 315 pounds among their starting interior offensive linemen. Meanwhile, Baylor’s starting nose tackle, senior Cooper Lanz, weighs under 290 pounds.
Sark and the Longhorns should set the tone with the inside running game to establish physical dominance at the point of attack. It’s big for Texas to get true freshman running back CJ Baxter Jr. back in this game after missing the win over Wyoming with a lower-body injury. Baxter ran hard before he suffered an injury against Alabama a couple of weeks ago.
If Texas finds success out of the gates running the football, it will be a big day for Baxter Jr. and redshirt sophomore running back Jonathon Brooks.