No. 3 Bears dominate in first Big 12 win

Senior defensive end Jamal Palmer tries to break free from a Texas Tech offensive linemen during the game between Baylor and Texas Tech on Saturday at AT&T Stadium. Photo credit: Taylor Griffin

Baylor opened its Big 12 account with a commanding 63-35 Texas Tech in the Texas Farm Insurance Bureau Shootout on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The win gave the Bears the lead in the all-time series against Texas Tech (37-36-1). The Bears also moved No. 3 in the AP poll, one spot behind No. 2 TCU.

The Bears benefitted from a quick start on offense and took a commanding lead early in the game. Baylor kept its foot on the gas pedal to claim the first victory in Big 12 play of the 2015 season.

“We definitely like people thinking we’re a throwing team. It gives us a chance to go out there and prove them wrong and hit them in the mouth.” – Senior left tackle Spencer Drango

Head coach Art Briles talked about playing “devastatingly dominant” on both sides of the ball leading up to the game against Tech. After the first half on Saturday, it appeared as though his team received his message.

“I thought our defense got some big stops early in the first half and our offense was able to separate a little bit,” Briles said.

The dominance of Baylor’s linemen was clear going into halftime. Baylor led Texas Tech 49-21 mainly thanks to the 258 rushing yards in the first half.

“We know we can throw the football, and we know we can be explosive throwing the ball,” Briles said. “If you can run the football, it kind of hurts them in the heart. And that’s the thing you have to be able to do. You have to be able to rush the ball.”

Senior left tackle Spencer Drango talked about the offensive focus on running the football and how the widely-known nickname for Baylor’s offense (“Wide Receiver University”) works to the team’s benefit.

“We like to run the ball first, and if we can, we’re going to do that all day,” Drango said. “We definitely like people thinking we’re a throwing team. It gives us a chance to go out there and prove them wrong and hit them in the mouth.”

Although many analysts have been quick to tab Baylor as a pass-first offense, the Bears displayed their continued commitment to the run on Saturday.

Baylor ran the ball twice as much as they threw it against the Red Raiders (48 rushing attempts; 24 passing attempts). The concerted effort in the rushing attack wore down the Tech defense and allowed quarterback Seth Russell to have ample time in the pocket.

“Being able to run the ball strong, it definitely opens up the passing game, because they have to load the box and it basically leaves them one-on-one with I feel the best receivers in the nation. It puts a lot of stress on the defense,” Russell said.

The physical effort by the Bears overwhelmed Texas Tech and proved to be a deciding factor in the game’s outcome.

“It’s definitely fun for us,” Drango said. “There’s that turning point where they’re giving up. A couple years ago, it was Kansas State. They stopped the ball and all of the O-line and anybody else pushed the line for four yards for a first down to clinch it. You could just feel the momentum shift.”

The running game paid off for the Bears on Saturday, as they compiled 368 yards on the ground. Shock Linwood had the majority of those yards, setting a career-high for most rushing yards in a game (221).

“[The offensive linemen] were moving people. You could probably drive a semi-truck through it.” – Junior quarterback Seth Russell

Baylor was able to cruise the rest of the way as the teams exchanged scores with two touchdowns each in the second half.

Junior wide receiver Corey Coleman had another three-touchdown performance, giving him 11 total touchdowns on the season – three shy of Baylor’s all-time record. Junior quarterback Seth Russell finished the game with 286 passing yards, four passing touchdowns and one interception.

It was the production from the offensive line and junior running back Shock Linwood that proved too much for the Texas Tech defense, Russell said.

“They were moving people,” quarterback Seth Russell said of the offensive line. “You could probably drive a semi-truck through it.”

Baylor will look to remain dominant and carry its momentum on the road against the winless Kansas Jayhawks this Saturday.