With the Baylor-TCU rivalry formally getting a name and trophy ahead of the 119th meeting, what are your thoughts on the “Bluebonnet Battle” moniker?
- Anthony: Look, it’s objectively lame and boring, but most rivalry game names are lame and boring and developed out of student government associations, failing to live up to the fanbases’ mutual disdain for each other. Consider the precious Iron Skillet that all of college football was so desperate to see continue, it only ever existed because the SMU student council proposed the trophy for the rivalry game in 1946. Perhaps in 80 years people will become nostalgic and passionate about the Bluebonnet shield. Also y’all, call it whatever you want to call it; SGA has no more hold over you than they do over the students on campus. Iowa-Iowa State is still El Assico; Georgia-Florida is still The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party; Baylor-Texas Tech is still the BUTT Bowl; Utah-BYU is still the Holy War; Texas-Oklahoma is still Red River Shootout; Oregon-Oregon State is still the Civil War. Regardless of how the universities may officially reference those games, those names have sustained. If you are partial to The Revivalry as the name for Baylor-TCU, keep calling it that, no one will stop you and everyone knows what you mean. In any case, let’s see the Frogs win that giant wok and the monstrous wooden base on which it rests...and if it happens to “disappear,” a la the Civil ConFLiCT Trophy, so be it.
- Austin: Labeling an age-old rivalry with a brand-new name would never go over well. No matter the fact that the Texas state flower is the Bluebonnet (most of us Texans know that from first grade), it’s still not the name we expected. And frankly, that’s fine. Like Anthony said, the fan base will likely continue to call this game whatever we want. Texas-Oklahoma is now and the Red River Showdown and has been since 2005 apparently. However, it’s still often referred to as the Red River Shootout. The Rivavalry, the Bluebonnet Battle, whatever it is, it’s TCU vs. Baylor, one of the best rivalries in the Big 12.
In 2021, Baylor won the Big 12 Championship & the Sugar Bowl, finishing the season ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll. Just two years later, Dave Aranda is on the hot seat and the Bears are in the Big 12 basement. How did Baylor fall so far and how does TCU avoid a similar fate after the Horned Frogs’ success of 2022?
- Anthony: That 2021 Baylor team seemed to have success driven by Culture & Coaching, rather than superstar talent that would subsequently turnover, so it remains a surprise that Aranda has not been able to re-find some success. The recruiting hasn’t been great, but it’s never been top-tier, but its 2024 class is 61st nationally and 11th in the new Big 12, which is just not good enough to expect to compete at the highest levels going forward. For TCU, given the drop in off-field “vibes” and locker room culture to go with an on-field performance dip, I do have concern that an Aranda-ian fall off the cliff is possible for Sonny Dykes and the Frogs; unable to generate elite recruiting classes (even by new Big 12 standard), losing the wrong assistants and bringing in ill-fitting replacements could have the snowball already rolling. Fortunes can flip in a hurry in the portal era, so TCU retaining its top talent while bringing in a top-3 Big 12 recruiting class is essential to it bouncing back.
- Austin: Baylor didn’t have many standout players on the 2021 squad, yet they performed extremely well. The coaching was fantastic and Aranda proved to be an incredible motivator. Their offense was okay and their defense was above average. This season, the Bears cannot run the ball, and the defense is consistently tasked with playing from behind. The 2023 Bears are uneven across the board. To avoid a similar downfall, the Horned Frogs need to focus on development and the transfer portal. TCU maneuvered through several rough seasons before finding success in 2022. Despite the poor seasons, the Horned Frogs developed many talented players, all of whom excelled in 2022.
- Miles: Recruiting is the simple answer. Their 2022 class ranked 40th. Last year they finished at 37. Losing defensive coordinator Ron Roberts to Auburn probably didn’t help either. TCU has to continue to recruit well. The 23 class finished ranked 26th, and the 24 class is currently 33rd. Would like to see that finish top 25, but I don’t think it’ll happen.
- Russ: The Bears didn’t have spectacular individual talent during that season, but their defense did a great job of keeping them in games, which isn’t surprising given that Dave Aranda is a former defensive coordinator. Baylor’s defense has been atrocious this year, however, and the offense has not grown whatsoever since losing key players like Tyquan Thornton, Trestan Ebner and Ben Sims.
Offensive MVP vs. Baylor
- Anthony: Emani Bailey. This is the most Run The Damn Ball game imaginable for the Horned Frogs. Bailey had five carries in the first half vs. Texas as the Frogs fell into a 20-point hole. Baylor ranks 118th nationally in rush defense, allowing 187 yards per game on over 5 yards per carry. There is no reason for the TCU Offense to get cute in this one; line them up and run them over. Give Bailey the rock and let him rumble.
- Austin: Last week, I went on a whim and decided on Savion Williams. And that wildcard prediction was spot on. This week, I’ll keep it more basic. I’m siding with the other guys and picking Emani Bailey. Baylor allows the second most yards per game on the ground in the Big 12. Now is the time to run Bailey as much as possible.
- Miles: Emani Bailey. Josh Hoover has proven that he can’t take care of the football with all the interceptions he has thrown. The ground game has to be what wins this one.
- Russ: Jared Wiley. The senior tight end had a nice showing against Texas and I think he’ll outshine Baylor’s Drake Dabney in the battle of potential NFL-bound tight ends on Saturday.
Defensive MVP vs. Baylor
- Anthony: Paul Oyewale. The TCU defensive front has been much maligned this season, but it is about to have a break out performance on Saturday, led by Oyewale. Baylor is dead last in the conference in sacks allowed, averaging three per game, good for 111th nationally. The Frogs must have a shut-down game defensively against this Baylor offense that may be the worst TCU plays this season, and that starts with pressuring the QB. Oyewale gets it done.
- Austin: It has to be a defensive back against the Bears. I’ll choose Bud Clark. Clark will be tasked with holding it down on the back end of the defense. Stopping the Baylor passing game is essential if the Frogs want to win this one.
- Miles: I’ll go with Josh Newton as well. He’s in need of a rebound after his poor performance against Texas. Baylor has struggled to run the ball all year, so the secondary will need to step up this week.
- Russ: Josh Newton. I think Newton bounces back from a rough showing against Texas and creates at least one turnover as the Horned Frogs look to bounce back on defense.
- Anthony: TCU wins 31-20
- Austin: TCU wins 27-20
- Miles: TCU wins 35-21
- Russ: TCU wins 41-17