Texas Tech football: Statistical categories to watch as Red Raiders visit Baylor

Texas Tech football: Statistical categories to watch as Red Raiders visit Baylor
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Nov 14, 2020; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders running back SaRodorick Thompson (4) rushes against the Baylor Bears in the second half at Jones AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Though the series between the Texas Tech football team and Baylor has been rather lopsided in favor of the Bears for some time (Baylor is 9-3 since 2011), there have been some rather memorable games between these two teams during that time.  Could we be in for another nail-biter on Saturday night?  Given the similarities between these two teams, that seems more likely than not.

If that happens, it will continue a trend that has seen three of the last four games between these schools decided by three points or fewer.  In 2021, the Red Raiders battled back from a 10-point deficit in the final quarter only to see Jonathan Garibay miss a would-be game-tying field goal of 53 yards on the last play of the game as the Bears won 27-24 in Waco.

The year prior, during the strange COVID-19 season of 2020, Garibay would play the role of hero on the game’s last snap by hitting a 24-yard field goal to give Tech a 24-23 win in Lubbock.  That game was famous for the massive hit Tech linebacker Colin Schooler planted on Baylor QB Charlie Brewer at the goal line to prevent a touchdown.

Not only was that one of the biggest thumps ever laid on an opponent by a Tech defender, but it also saved four critical points as the Bears would have to settle for a field goal on that drive when it looked like Brewer was headed for the endzone to put his team ahead 27-12.

Unfortunately, the 2019 game will forever be remembered as the game in which the Big 12 officials robbed the Red Raiders of a critical road win in Waco.  That day, Tech recovered a fumble in the first overtime period but the play was mistakenly ruled to have not counted because of an “illegal snap” by the Bear’s center.

Bayor would go on to win that game 33-30 in two overtimes to prevent the Red Raiders from knocking off the No. 22 Bears.  After the game, the Big 12 would admit to Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt that the officials’ decision was incorrect and that Tech should have been awarded the fumble recovery.

Though Joey McGuire was on the Baylor sidelines for all of those games, one-score games like that have become the norm for Tech under his watch as well.  Thus far, seven of the 18 games he’s coached with the Red Raiders have been decided by eight points or less.

That’s why it would shock no one to see this year’s game with the Bears come down to the wire as well.  If that happens, the following statistical categories could play a huge role in determining who is able to pick up the victory.

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In fact, the Bears are the least-penalized team in the Big 12 in terms of yards per game.u00a0 Averaging only 30.2 penalty yards per game this year, Baylor has given up au00a0 mere 151 yards on infractions thus far.

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Whatu2019s interesting, though, is that the Bears have been flagged only one fewer times than Tech has (24 to 25).u00a0 That means that Baylor isnu2019t being hit with the major fouls that the Red Raiders have.

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Often this year, especially in the losses to Wyoming and Oregon, Tech has been plagued by 15-yard penalties.u00a0 In Laramie, Tech was assessed three personal fouls, and against Oregon, another personal foul against tackle Monroe Mills caused Tech to have to try a long 56-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter.u00a0 Had that kick been 41 yards instead, Gino Garcia might have had a much easier time with it but unfortunately, he was unable to convert the long attempt.

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The good news is that Tech is coming off of a game in which it was flagged only once for five yards against Houston at home.u00a0 That came one week after being penalized nine times for 96 yards at West Virginia.u00a0 Therein might be the rub.

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We typically think of basketball as being the sport where officials are most heavily influenced by the home crowd given how close the spectators are to the action.u00a0 However, the home team often gets the benefit of the doubt from the officials in football as well.

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This year, Baylor is yet to be penalized for more than 45 yards in any of the four games played in Waco.u00a0 That includes the season-opening loss to Texas State in which the Bears drew nine flags.

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Tech is going to have to play a clean game this weekend and not give away huge chunks of yards via personal fouls and other 15-yard infractions.u00a0 Thatu2019s because Baylor likely wonu2019t be assessed many game-changing penalties so Tech has to make sure that component of the game remains relatively even.

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