It’s Do or Die Time: Three storylines to follow as Baylor takes on Texas Tech

Charlie Brewer rushes the ball against Texas Tech during Baylor's 33-30 Homecoming win on Oct. 12, 2019 at McLane Stadium. Lariat File Photo

By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

Let’s look at the facts. Baylor football has four games left on its schedule, two of which are against ranked squads. Texas Tech is perhaps the easiest game left on the Bears’ remaining schedule and after four straight losses, losing isn’t much of an option. It’s definitely going to be an ugly game up in Lubbock. Here are three storylines to follow into this year’s Texas Farm Bureau Shootout.

Tough Blows

After taking hard hits during Baylor’s loss to Iowa State last week, star linebacker Terrel Bernard and rising star running back Craig “Sqwirl” Williams will undergo season-ending shoulder and knee surgeries, respectively. While Baylor has some depth in the running back position that will soften Williams’ harsh exit, the loss of Bernard is the toughest blow.

Bernard was having a stellar season, leading the team in total tackles (55), sacks (3.5) and tackles for loss (5.5). Former running back Abram Smith will take over his spot as Will linebacker. Head coach Dave Aranda said that while Bernard will be sidelined due to his injury, he’s looking to provide guidance to Smith as he takes over.

“He really wants to be involved in the mentorship with Abe to help him get that done,” Aranda said. “I feel you know the type of player Terrel is and the work ethic and everything that’s involved in the day to day to get to the level of play and the standard of human being that Terrel is. His mentorship with our linebacker group is going to be so much more than when he was playing. So, we talked about that and the powerful impact he can make.”

Who knows, maybe Smith will have the same kind of breakout that Bernard had a year ago when he took over for Clay Johnston. One can only hope.

Another QB Battle: Two Against One

Several reports coming from sources out of Tech’s program have indicated that both Alan Bowman and Henry Colombi will play in Saturday’s game. Neither of them has done particularly well for the Red Raiders this season.

Colombi, who has averaged 210 passing yards after starting the last three games, has completed just a little over 60% of his passes. Bowman has had far less luck, completing under 60% of his passes in games against Texas, Kansas State and Iowa State. He went 4-for-4 against Oklahoma before Colombi took over.

Baylor could look to take advantage of Tech’s struggles at the QB position and transform its opportunities into takeaways. Without Bernard, the defense will not want to spend too much time out on the field.

Meanwhile, the Bears are sticking with No. 5. I don’t care how you feel about Charlie Brewer, but at this point a QB change would destabilize a Baylor offense that has been struggling with consistency all season. It’s easy to blame the QB for failures on offense, but despite all his faults, Brewer looked much better last Saturday against the Cyclones than he had in previous games and we should at least give him some credit for that.

Return to the Land of Wind and Dust

For the first time since 2008, the Bears are returning to Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock for the Texas Farm Bureau Shootout. The last time the Bears played in Lubbock they dropped a 35-28 loss to the Red Raiders which launched tech into the Cotton Bowl that year.

The annual meeting between Baylor and Tech moved back to campus sites last year after being played in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for 10 years. The Bears won the Homecoming matchup last year in a dramatic 33-30 victory at McLane Stadium in 2019. Baylor leads the series 39-38-1, taking the lead with wins in the last two years.

Baylor and Texas Tech will face off at 3 p.m. Saturday in Lubbock. The game will be broadcast on FS1 with Eric Collins on the call and Ben Leber as the analyst.