By Collin Bryant | Sports Writer
The Baylor Bears (0-7) face off against the Texas Longhorns (3-4) this weekend at McLane Stadium. Starting conference play with Baylor in last place and Texas in sixth, neither team is poised for a Big 12 championship without significant help from other conference teams.
The Bears trail behind the Longhorns all-time in the rivalry series, 27-75-4. The Longhorns have won the last two games, but lost to the Bears four out of five times they played between 2010-2014.
Both head coaches, Baylor’s Matt Rhule and Texas’ Tom Herman, are in inaugural seasons with their respective teams and are looking to capture a victory this weekend as the Longhorns travel to Waco. However, this will not be the first time the coaches have battled head-to-head. Rhule, while at Temple, faced Herman in 2015, losing in the American Athletic Conference Championship 24-13.
Rhule said Herman’s pedigree forces the Bears to focus on their own preparation and readiness.
“Coach Beck [offensive coordinator] and coach Herman do a really good job. We faced coach Herman once when I was at Temple and he was at Houston. We have to just try to do the best that we can to get our guys ready to play,” Rhule said. “This week, for us, is much more about us and much less about them and the things that they do. We’ve just got to continue to get our guys ready on defense. When we’re not turning guys loose for big plays, we’ve played decent defense at times. When we’re turning guys loose, that’s more a factor of us than anybody else.”
Rhule said in his Tuesday press conference that the Longhorns have the type of offense you have to prepare for and the team is focused on still “trying to eliminate big passing plays.” He is unsure if the Bears are prepared to try and take specific elements out of the Longhorns game, such as planning for moving parts of Texas’ offense.
Coach Rhule also drew attention to the threat the Longhorns present on both sides of the ball. Rhule said the Bears have faced strong defenses, but the Longhorns talent can be seen on the entire field.
“We’ve faced a lot of really good defensive lines, but when you watch these guys, you see their defensive talent everywhere. They’ve got six-foot-one corners that can run. They’ve got real skill,” Rhule said. “They’ve recruited really well for a while, even since I played the University of Texas in 1996 as a player. They had great players then. They have done a great job and they have a great scheme. I don’t want to minimize what coach Orlando [defensive coordinator] does. He does a great job of taking away what you do.”
Herman also acknowledged the challenge the Bears present.
Herman said that the Bears are an eager team close to a victory and his team is only competitive when they are playing a high brand of football.
“This is a football team as hungry and as eager for a win as we are,” Herman said. “We’re not good enough. I told our team, ‘we’re not good enough to not play our A-game and beat anybody,’ but what we have shown is that we are good enough when we play our A-game on all the three sides of the ball. We’re good enough to beat anyone in the country.”
This is also a special game because of the ceremonial running of the line that will take place. Freshman women from the years 1970-1994 will have the opportunity to run the Line. The Baylor Line was a tradition established at Baylor in 1970, but was not gender-inclusive until the year 1994.
The Bears are looking to capture their first victory against the Longhorns at 11 a.m., Saturday at McLane Stadium in Waco.