Texas Tech’s head football coach Joey McGuire, center, shakes hands with Baylor’s wide receiver Gavin Holmes (6) after BaylorÕs win, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, at Jones AT&T Stadium.
Storylines abound as Texas Tech gets set to meet Baylor tonight at McLane Stadium. After all, these two programs are rather intertwined these days.
Of course, the connection between Joey McGuire and Baylor head coach Dave Aranda is obvious. McGuire was Aranda’s top assistant in 2020 and for half of the 2021 season until he was hired by the Red Raiders. Now, there are as many as eleven people working for McGuire in Lubbock who previously worked in the Baylor football department.
Meanwhile, the Bears have a well-known Lubbockite on their roster. Former Coronado High School QB Sawyer Robertson, who was a 4-star signee in the class of 2021 is the current backup for the Bears. He remains one of the top football recruits to come from the Lubbock area in the era of recruiting rankings but he never received an offer from his hometown school.
Instead, during the 2021 recruiting cycle, the Matt Wells staff decided to pursue and sign another 4-star QB with ties to Lubbock, Behren Morton. The decision to go with Morton, who was born in the Hub City and who was a kid when Graham Harrell was Tech’s starting QB from 2006-08, instead of Robertson, is one that had many people in West Texas talking and it will remain a storyline for as long as Morton and Robertson are in school.
Last year, while Robertson was still at Mississippi State, (the program he signed with out of high school), Morton got his first shot at the Bears and it didn’t go well. In the 45-17 loss, he was picked off three times while completing just 11-34 passes for 152 yards and one TD.
This weekend, Morton gets a chance to erase the memories of that game and help lead his team back to the .500 mark on the season. It will be just his sixth career start as a collegiate meaning that he is far less experienced than his counterpart on Saturday night, Blake Shapen.
The Louisana native, Shapen, has made 17 career starts in Waco. That includes 12 starts in Big 12 games.
What’s more, he’s 2-0 as a starter against Tech. In 2021, he made his first career start against the Red Raiders going 20-34 for 254 yards and two TDs with no picks in a 27-24 win. Last season, he was only 19-30 for 211 yards and a TD but again, he had no picks as the Bears dominated Tech in Lubbock.
Of course, the most important storyline in this game will simply be the fact that one of these programs will get to the .500 mark while the other will have to win four of its final six games just to reach bowl eligibility. So what might we see tonight in Waco? Here are some predictions about what could transpire.
What’s more, Tech is yet to win at McLane Stadium since it opened. Additionally, the Red Raiders are just 3-9 against Baylor in the last 12 years.
Still, when I look at the two rosters, I just think Tech’s is better. Also, the 2-3 record that Tech has posted is better than the 2-3 record Baylor has amassed thus far.
The Bears’ loss to a non-Power 5 school was a complete dud. Losing at home by 11 points to Texas State is inexcusable under any circumstances. Meanwhile, Tech’s two-point loss to Group of 5 school Wyoming, on the road, was far easier to explain and comprehend.
Additionally, Tech’s 8-point loss to Oregon now looks much better than Baylor’s 7-point loss to Utah. The Ducks were at full-strength when they won in Lubbock and they currently sit at No. 8 in the A.P. Poll. On the other hand, when Baylor lost to Utah in Waco, the Utes were without their starting QB rendering their offense almost punchless. What’s more, Utah is just hanging on to a spot in the top 25 sitting at No. 18. Ultimately, the Utes are not a playoff contender like Oregon is.
What might make this game a tight affair is if Shapen plays his best and Morton struggles. That’s going to be the X-factor tonight.
I’m not that impressed with Shapen as a QB but as a competitor, he’s as tough as they come, and sometimes, players like that rise up to propel their team to a win in rivalry games. Also, Morton is still an unproven commodity. Though he has far more natural talent than Shapen, we don’t know what version of Morton we are going to get on a weekly basis.
With all of that said, Tech has the better defense, the better run game, and an offensive line that is at least equal to Baylor’s. I don’t really see any position group on the BU roster that has a decided edge over the Red Raiders.
This game will be tightly contested for most of the night but in the end, Tech will score a late TD to earn a 37-27 win in Waco, a victory that would mean the world to McGuire and everyone on his staff with ties to the Baylor program.