Waco, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - A showdown between undefeated teams in the Big 12 Conference takes place on Saturday afternoon, as the ninth-ranked TCU Horned Frogs come calling on the fifth-ranked Baylor Bears.
TCU is fresh off its biggest win since making the move to the Big 12 a couple of seasons ago, as coach Gary Patterson's squad derailed No. 4 Oklahoma's national title aspirations with a 37-33 victory in Fort Worth last weekend. It was the fourth win of the season for the Horned Frogs, their third at home, and following this contest they will return to Amon G. Carter Stadium for a pair of bouts against league foes Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.
Baylor comes in sporting a 5-0 record, and has won its first two Big 12 tests by taking down Iowa State (49-28) and Texas (28-7). The Bears, who are the defending Big 12 champs, have won 12 straight home games, including their first two at the brand new McLane Stadium this year. Following this clash, BU will alternate road and home games over its final six outings.
The series between these two Lone Star State rivals is knotted at 51-51-7, and TCU has won four of the last six meetings dating back to 1995.
TCU and Baylor rank atop the Big 12, and among the national leaders in several statistical categories, not the least of which is scoring offense (TCU 42.8 ppg, BU 51.0 ppg) and scoring defense (TCU 13.5 ppg, BU 12.4 ppg).
Both teams are equally proficient in either mode of attack, with TCU averaging 196.2 ypg on the ground and another 320 ypg through the air. Quarterback Trevone Boykin is a 61.5 percent passer, who has thrown for 1,176 yards, 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions. Five different players have double- digit catches on the season, led by Josh Dotson with 19 grabs for 212 yards and three scores. Boykin is also the club's leading rusher, having amassed 260 yards on 51 carries, while B.J. Catalon has 220 yards on 46 totes. The two have combined for seven of the team's nine rushing TDs.
Defensively, TCU is led by Paul Dawson and his 37 tackles, although Marcus Mallett is hot on his heels with 36. Dawson also has three fumble recoveries and a pair of INTs, as does Chris Hackett, the team logging a total of 12 takeaways. Overall, the Frogs are yielding just 106.8 ypg via the run and 172.5 ypg by way of the pass, and foes have scored only two TDs through the air. TCU has been exceptional in crunch time, allowing only 28 percent of the opposition's third-down opportunities to be converted successfully.
Boykin threw for 318 yards and two TDs to help lead TCU past Oklahoma last Saturday, as the Horned Frogs rolled up 469 yards of total offense. Boykin added 77 yards on 22 carries, while Catalon tacked on 48 yards and a score on only 11 attempts. He also had a receiving TD. Dotson caught a team-high six passes for 76 yards, while Kolby Listenbee turned his five grabs into 103 yards.
Hackett, Dawson and Mallett all recorded double-digit tackles in the game, and the first two also had INTs. Dawson returned his 41 yards for a TD at the beginning of the fourth quarter to put the Frogs ahead to stay. It was actually the second defensive TD in the game for TCU, which got a fumble recovery less than five minutes in by Cliff Murphy. The Sooners wound up with 461 total yards, and the two teams combined for five turnovers, 19 penalties and a dozen punts.
While obviously pleased with the outcome against Oklahoma, Patterson tried to downplay the significance as his team prepared for the challenges ahead.
"We're 4-0, 1-0 in the conference. We'll get ready for Baylor, then we'll get ready for Oklahoma State and then we'll get ready for Texas Tech. Right now, we're going to get ready for Baylor."
Baylor has its own standout signal caller in Bryce Petty, the near-60 percent passer who has thrown for 1,024 yards, nine TDs and only one INT. Also helping the Bears to the highest scoring average in the FBS is talented RB Shock Linwood, he of 449 yards and eight TDs. KD Cannon is the team's top receiver with 24 grabs for 527 yards and five scores, while Jay Lee has turned his 19 receptions into 294 yards and four TDs. In all, six players have at least 10 catches and four have multiple receiving TDs.
As good as the Baylor offense has been, the defense has kept pace in allowing just 102 ypg on the ground and 165.2 ypg through the air. Opponents are moving the chains on third down a mere 31 percent of the time, while the Bears have allowed only seven visits to the red zone. Bryce Hager continues to pace the unit with 29 tackles, while three others have at least 21. Orion Stewart has three picks, and Xavien Howard two, the team as a whole logging just nine takeaways. The Bears have recorded 19 sacks, with Shawn Oakman being credited with five of them.
The Baylor-Texas game was close in the first half, with the Bears leading only 7-0 at intermission. After the break however, BU scored 21 points to seal the deal, and it nearly pitched a shutout save for a late TD scored by the Longhorns. Petty was anything but his usual self, as he completed only 7-of-22 passes for 111 yards, although he did have a couple of scoring strikes. He was sacked three times, but even that stat didn't take away from the outstanding effort of Linwood and the Baylor rushing attack. Linwood tallied 148 yards and a TD on 28 carries, with the team putting forth a collective effort that resulted in 278 yards on the ground. Antwan Goodley was the leading receiver with four catches for 69 yards and a score.
Texas tallied 190 rushing yards, but only 144 passing, as the Baylor defense stood tall nearly the entire game. Stewart picked off a pair of passes and the only score of the opening half came on a blocked field goal return of 62 yards by the Bears' Terrell Burt. Hager posted eight stops to lead the way.
They aren't always going to be pretty, but a win is a win and Baylor head coach Art Briles is happy his team came out on top last week. He compared last year's Big 12 championship team to this group.
"I think we are a better team than last year and that's just the bottom line. We are not where we need to be or have to be to have a chance to win the conference again, but I do think we are a better football team than we were a year ago at this time."