No. 16 Baylor hosts unranked Texas on Saturday at Waco, Texas, in what could be considered a matchup between the most surprising team in the Big 12 and the most disappointing.
The Bears (6-1, 3-1 Big 12) have been the surprise, winning with all phases of the game and already reaching bowl eligibility a year after going 2-7 in the truncated COVID-racked 2020 campaign.
The Longhorns (4-3, 2-2) are the disappointment, losing two straight conference games, to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, after owning double-digit leads deep into the third quarter of each contest.
Baylor and Texas have played 110 times since 1923, with the Longhorns earning a 79-27-4 record over the Bears in the series.
It will be the 51st meeting between the two programs in Waco, where the Longhorns hold a 31-17-2 record over the Bears. Texas has won five of the last six meetings against Baylor, including two of the last three in Waco.
Baylor had an open week last week after recording two consecutive victories, most recently a 38-24 home win over then-No. 19 BYU on Oct. 16.
Abram Smith rushed for a career-high 188 yards and three touchdowns for the Bears, and Gerry Bohanon passed for 231 yards and a score in the win. Baylor dominated the game on both sides of the ball, outgaining BYU 534-409 overall and 303-67 on the ground while recording five sacks.
"To have some time off was well needed with our staff and players who have invested in all of this," Baylor coach Dave Aranda said. "It's nice to have a bit of a breather, and it's good to get back into it. We've got ourselves a great opponent at the end of the week, and I'm looking forward to that challenge."
The Bears will have their hands full with Texas' explosive offense, which ranks second in the Big 12 with an average of 41.6 points per game and third at 456.7 yards per outing.
Texas heads up I-35 for Saturday's game after a much-needed bye week. The Longhorns' most recent game was a 32-24 loss to Oklahoma State on Oct. 16 that snapped Texas' three-game home winning streak.
"I thought the bye week was good for us on a couple of fronts," Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said. "We got a chance to get a couple of guys a little more healthy."
Expect the Longhorns to get the ball plenty to sophomore running back Bijan Robinson, the Big 12's leading rusher who ranks third nationally with 924 yards and has 10 touchdowns on the ground.
Robinson ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns and added a TD reception against Oklahoma State as Texas built a 24-13 advantage. However, the Longhorns were outplayed in the final quarter and had no answer for the Cowboys late.
Texas quarterback Casey Thompson passed for 179 yards and a TD but threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
If Texas is going to get back in the Big 12 race and cast off the "disappointment" label, it can't afford a loss to Baylor.
"We've got some great games in front of us. Quality opponents," Sarkisian said. "We think we can play better than we've played all year, and we'll see what happens."
--Field Level Media