College Station, TX – The 20th-ranked Baylor Bears will tear ranked Texas A&M Aggies, who survived in a wild shootout with Texas Tech last weekend.
After Kansas State handed Baylor its first loss of the season two weeks ago, the Bears bounced back last weekend with a convincing 49-26 win over Iowa State. Robert Griffin III continues to post huge numbers for the Bears, who will get rest during a bye week following this weekend's road trip to College Station. Then comes a showdown against Oklahoma State on October 29th in Stillwater. Not that Baylor is looking ahead of the Aggies this weekend.
"It's the biggest game on the schedule because it's the next game on the schedule," said Baylor head coach Art Briles during his weekly press conference on Monday. "So that's how we're going to approach it. We're going to approach it like it's a must-win situation and we're going to go get after it."
Texas A&M beat Texas Tech 45-40 in Lubbock last weekend, marking the third consecutive win for the Aggies over the Red Raiders. Texas A&M will travel to Ames on October 22nd to take on Iowa State, followed by a home matchup with Missouri the following weekend. The Aggies are charged with stopping Griffin and company this weekend, and head coach Mike Sherman noted Monday at his weekly press conference that his defense is dealing with a player that is continuing to evolve.
"Every year his passing accuracy has improved. He's throwing at an 82-percent efficiency. He has 1 interception and 19 touchdowns," said Sherman. "Last year he had 22 for the whole season. He's hitting on all cylinders. His accuracy as a quarterback has been the biggest thing. They are a big downfield play-action team this year. "
Texas A&M leads the all-time series with Baylor, 67-31-9, and Saturday's game will mark only the seventh meeting between the schools when both are ranked in the top-25.
Baylor is led by Griffin, who has completed 114-of-142 passes (80.3) for 1,520 yards, 19 touchdowns and just one interception. He threw for 212 yards and one score last weekend in the win over Iowa State. Griffin is second nationally in passing efficiency (214.07), and he has one of the best receivers in the country at his disposal in Kendall Wright, who averages 9.6 catches for 138 yards per game. The rushing attack, which averages 239.2 yards per game, is led by Terence Ganaway's 107.2 yards per contest. Baylor is third in total offense (562.8), and fourth in scoring offense (47.6).
Defensively, Baylor is giving up 374 yards and 28.2 points per game. The unit ranks 83rd in rushing defense (169.4) and 35th in passing defense (204.6). Baylor has just six takeaways this season, but in two of the last three games has returned a turnover for a touchdown, including an 86-yard touchdown return by Tevin Elliot last weekend. Chance Casey leads Baylor with 35 tackles, while Tracy Robertson has recorded a team-high three sacks through six games.
Texas A&M features a pair of quality running backs in Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael, who average 95.8 and 92 yards per game, respectively. The Aggies rank 17th nationally with 220 yards per outing. Gray has seven rushing touchdowns, along with 11 catches for 95 yards and another score receiving, while Michael has scored six touchdowns on the ground.
"They've been threats every time they've stepped on the football field," said Briles of Gray and Michael. "(They're) extremely fast, good moves, good vision, and good balance. That's why they're a potent running attack. Those guys are almost mirror images of each other."
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has passed for 1,327 yards and seven touchdowns against five interceptions, and his top target has been Ryan Swope, who averages 5.8 catches and 82.6 yards per game receiving. The unit has been among the country's best overall, ranking 12th in total offense (493.4) and 18th in scoring offense (39). Texas A&M is also tied for sixth nationally in sacks allowed, with just three this season.
Getting pressure on Griffin will be essential for success for the Aggies, who certainly have the playmakers to do it. Texas A&M leads the country in sacks per game (4.2), with linebacker Sean Porter registering 6.5 and defensive end Tony Jerod Eddie posting four through five games this season. Texas A&M ranks seventh in rushing defense (76.8), but is 120th in pass defense (347.6) and 99th in overall defense (424.4). Texas A&M is allowing a 43 percent conversion rate on third down (39-of-91), but has held opponents to scoring just 12 touchdowns out of 20 red zone trips.