Baylor football embraces challenge, opportunity No. 4 TCU imposes

Sophomore linebacker Josh White (#44) hyped up after a defensive tackle on KSU's Adrian Martinez. Assoah Ndomo | Photographer

By Michael Haag | Sports Editor

The spotlight won’t come off Baylor football any time soon.

After being crushed by No. 15 Kansas State 31-3 over the weekend, the Bears welcome No. 4 Texas Christian University to McLane Stadium on Saturday. The Horned Frogs, led by first-year head coach Sonny Dykes, have clinched a spot in the Big 12 championship game following a 17-10 win over the University of Texas in Austin.

Baylor (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) head coach Dave Aranda said he has “a lot of respect for our opponent” and that he’s “known Coach Dykes for a long time.” Aranda said the Bears need to play to the best of their potential to knock off TCU (10-0, 7-0 Big 12), who are primed for the College Football Playoff.

“I was a grad assistant on a staff with him a long time ago,” Aranda said. “Just how he treats people and how his mind works with offense is something I admire and respect. His team is playing at a really high level. It’s going to take our best, so we’re excited to get to work for all that.”

FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff will air from Waco on Saturday. It marks the second-consecutive season Baylor has hosted the pre-game morning show, the last time coming when the Bears knocked off the University of Oklahoma 27-14 on Nov. 13, 2021.

Of the many things that stand out about the undefeated Horned Frogs, Aranda glamored over the “confidence” and “belief” they play with. TCU is averaging 40.5 points per game, which ranks eighth in the nation.

Baylor Defense tackling Phillip Brooks for the 2nd down. Assoah Ndomo | Photographer
Baylor defense tackling KSU's Phillip Brooks for the 2nd down. Assoah Ndomo | Photographer

“There’s multiple times that they’re down but they’re never out,” Aranda said. “They have the ability to quick strike. Their big plays I want to say are tops in the country. That ability to flex like that adds to that confidence, for sure.”

Last year, Baylor lost to TCU 30-28 in Fort Worth on Nov. 6, 2021. That loss was a big reason as to why the Bears were not included in the CFP. This season, Baylor has a chance to boot the Frogs out of the playoff and return the favor.

But fifth-year senior offensive lineman Connor Galvin said the squad is not thinking about it that way.

“We’ve addressed what’s at stake for both teams,” Galvin said. “We’ve addressed the situation, the opportunity we have ahead of us. It was addressed on Monday. But we’re not making a big deal about it. It’s [the] next opponent up.”

TCU’s high-powered offense averages 486.1 yards per game, while its defense gives up 25.2 points per contest. The Frogs are led by stand-out senior quarterback Max Duggan, who has thrown for 25 touchdowns and just two interceptions in 2022. Duggan amassed 2,531 yards in the process.

Baylor defense lines up at the end of the game preparing for the Kansas State offense. Assoah Ndomo | Photographer
Baylor defense lines up at the end of the game preparing for the Kansas State offense. Assoah Ndomo | Photographer

Sixth-year senior linebacker Bryson Jackson said the group is treating this weekend as a “test.” Jackson said the team is not taking the opposition for granted and that the team is grateful for the opportunity to play against one of the nation’s best programs.

“One thing is we want to respect our opponents,” Jackson said. “TCU is a great program this year and they’ve definitely put the work in. For us it’s a test. From what we’ve been through, I think it’s all built up to this moment to go out there, and what better chance than to face this opponent to go out there and show them and give it our best.”

The Big Noon Kickoff pregame show will start at 9 a.m. while the game is set to kickoff at 11 a.m. from McLane Stadium. The Bears are looking for their first win over the Frogs in Waco since 2014, a 61-58 win for the green and gold.

Aranda will look for ways to improve following Baylor’s abysmal showing against the Wildcats over the weekend.

“So disappointed in the film we watched and the game that we played,” Aranda said. “There’s so much to learn from, and so much that needs to be improved, so [we’re] looking forward to doing that.”