Baylor and Texas Tech meet for a sixth consecutive season at AT&T Stadium on Friday in a game that might best be described this season as the Misery-Loves-Company Bowl.
The Bears (6-4, 3-4 Big 12), who were ranked No. 8 in the AP poll after winning six straight to open the season, are now in the midst of a four-game losing streak while seemingly waiting for another shoe to drop in the school’s well-documented sexual assault scandal.
Add to that the fact that Baylor is without starting quarterback Seth Russell, who is out with a broken ankle.
The Red Raiders (4-7, 2-6) will not be going to a bowl for the second time in coach Kliff Kingsbury’s four seasons after hitting rock-bottom in a stunning loss on the road to Iowa State last week. It’s the latest disappointment in a season full of them while finishing in the bottom half of the Big 12, a conference whose competitive level could be labeled, generously, as “down.”
A therapist might be in order when the teams kick off at 5 p.m. Friday.
128 Texas Tech’s national rank in total defense, last in the nation at 547.1 yards per game.
“It’s been challenging, to say the least,” said acting Baylor head coach Jim Grobe, on the job since Art Briles was fired in May. “Certainly we don’t want to be on this losing streak right now. Overall, I’ve tried to support our coaching staff in doing their jobs. And our players.
“I’m proud of our kids. I feel like in every game we’ve played we’ve gotten good effort of our kids, except for maybe the TCU game.”
That was a 40-point loss to the Frogs, the second of the losing skid.
In Russell’s place is true freshman Zach Smith, a Grandview product who passed for 258 yards on 27-of-45 passing with three TDs and three interceptions in his first start last week against Kansas State.
“I like that he got the experience,” Grobe said of Smith. “We had three interceptions, so I wasn’t very happy with that. You would expect that out of kid starting his first game. I felt like our offense we didn’t play very well [as a whole]. I think he has ability, and he’s a great kid. He’ll have a good week of practice and play better against Texas Tech.”
The Bears have won six straight over the Tech, and, despite the losing streak, Baylor is favored to win another.
6 Baylor’s national rank in total offense. The Bears average 520.6 yards per game.
The Red Raiders will bring with them an offense among the most prolific in FBS, despite producing only 10 points in a 56-point loss last week.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes needs only 243 yards of total offense to become only the second player in NCAA FBS history to register 5,000 yards of total offense twice in a career. He would join Houston QB Case Keenum, who did it three times.
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On the bus with the offense will be Tech’s defense. The data and the naked eye align in judging that unit as one of worst, if not the worst, in FBS. Tech ranks last in total defense out of all 128 FBS teams.
Kingsbury, signed through 2020, is not believed to be coaching for his job, despite feeling some heat in the seat.
“In this profession you understand what you get yourself into,” said Kingsbury, who described his team as “frustrated, embarrassed, and anxious to get back out there” after the Iowa State loss.
“There is pressure to win. Every game the approach is as a must-win. That’s where we’re at. You understand what’s at stake and you do the best you can each, and every week to represent yourself and your program the best you can.”
Texas Tech vs. Baylor
5 p.m. Friday, AT&T Stadium, ESPN