Texas Tech Game Preview Part 3

Texas Tech Game Preview Part 3

The Red Raiders and the Bears are two teams headed in opposite directions late in the 2012 season. They meet this Saturday in Dallas. Find out the keys to the game and our official prediction inside BearsIllustrated.com

The Baylor Bears have a chance to save a season that looked lost just a few weeks ago. Some were worried about beating Kansas, and then hoping for just one more victory just to save face. Not much talk was of bowl games, though some held onto a sliver of hope. However, the Kansas State game changed all of that, along with a spirited loss to Oklahoma the week before.

Up next for a surging Baylor squad is old friend Texas Tech, a team that found itself hot and coming off of a Top 5 upset earlier in the year. They have not kept that momentum throughout the season though, and now find themselves in danger of ending a season they started 6-1 with just one more win the rest of the way. How do these two teams matchup?

Statistical Comparison:

Not too many times this year have the Bears been the favored team in the advanced metrics eyes, but they find themselves in that position entering Saturday. Baylor shot up the rankings last week due to their big upset win over Kansas State. They rose 20 spots in the F/+ rank and 22 in the FEI ranks. Those are huge jumps due to one win.

Baylor

Texas Tech

FEI Rank

31

48

F/+ Rank

41

42

S&P+ Rank

39

34

GE Rank

47

55

Average

39.5

44.75

Baylor is about 5 places higher on average over the 4 main metrics from FootballOutsiders.com. The Bears are higher in all metrics except for the S%P+ rank, which focuses on success rate of plays (which Tech has been excellent at on offense).

Baylor O Rank

Texas Tech D Rank

Advantage

FEI

1

44

BU

F/+

2

60

BU

S&P+

14

49

BU

Rush S&P+

8

53

BU

Pass S&P+

19

61

BU

Standard Downs S&P+

7

31

BU

Passing Downs S&P+

9

35

BU

Success Rate

12

59

BU

Average

9

49

BU

Baylor D Rank

Texas Tech O Rank

Advantage

FEI

112

57

Tech

F/+

106

24

Tech

S&P+

90

26

Tech

Rush S&P+

81

51

Tech

Pass S&P+

91

20

Tech

Standard Downs S&P+

71

32

Tech

Passing Downs S&P+

94

12

Tech

Success Rate

108

2

Tech

Average

94.125

28

Tech

TOTAL

51.5625

38.5

TECH

The Red Raiders have the advantage here, mainly due to their defense. But as we found out in the previous preview piece, there defense has not been nearly as good over the past few games as it was at the beginning of the year. Again, these are two teams headed in very different directions late in the season.

Keys to the Game:

1. Limit 3rd down damage

Tech is not a big play offense. That has been their weakness all year. They are designed to take the short gains wherever they can and convert 3rd downs. They are the 23rd best team in the nation in 3rd down conversions, at 46.27%. The Bears are still last in the country at allowing conversions 59.48% of the time. They have actually been much better over the past three weeks, only allowing 42.22% of the 3rd downs to be converted. Baylor has to get off the field on 3rd downs, especially in 3rd and longer than 7.

2. Continue to run the ball

The Red Raider run defense is really bad right now. I mean REALLY bad. Good thing for Baylor fans, the running game, after struggling terribly to start the year, has turned into a storm of success, featuring thunder and lightning. Cliché or not, the Bears are pounding the rock down people's throats the past few games, and the Red Raiders have not stopped any running games recently.

3. Can you say turnovers?

Again, is anyone surprised? I don't think the turnovers are as important to win this game as last week when I thought it was crucial to have a chance of beating Kansas State. It is still important to keep it close. We can't put ourselves in big holes with turnovers, including failed 4th down conversions. The defense has started to force more turnovers each week. Can they continue that against a team that only averages 1 interception per game (tied for 68th fewest) and .6 fumbles lost per game (tied for 24th fewest)?

4. Keep that passion going

The Bears defense played like it had not played all year against Kansas State. People all around me were asking themselves and others what our season could have been if the defense played like THAT all year. I don't want to think about it. What do I want to think about is the defense playing with that energy in the next three games (see what I did there…). Baylor's defense has to be the aggressors. They have to keep attacking and make an offense that has struggled to finish drives at times, and one that does not make big plays do the very things it is not good at.

5. Get up early

This might be the most important thing (well, outside of turnovers). The Red Raiders are not in a great place late in the year. They have lost three of four games. They have struggled to stop any running games, and their own running game has deserted them. If the Bears can get up early on Texas Tech, the Raiders just might not have the fight in them to come back.

Prediction: Bears win 48-35

I expect the Bears running game to get them up early in this game and for Baylor to extend the lead through big plays in the passing game. Tech will move the ball, but turnovers will haunt them, and the Bears will hang onto the game late, as Tech tries to come back. Bears win, and get their 6th win.

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