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2023 TCU Football Opponent Preview: Baylor Bears

The 119th all-time meeting between TCU and Baylor will take place in Fort Worth.

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Mississippi at Baylor John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

On Nov. 18, the 119th all-time meeting between the TCU Horned Frogs and Baylor Bears will occur in Fort Worth, TX, at Amon G. Carter Stadium. The longtime rivalry between these two programs goes back to the year 1899. Making this one of college football’s oldest and most continuous rivalries.

TCU hopes to command the Big 12 during this portion of the season. The Bears are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 6-7 finish from a season ago.

A combined three points decided the last two contests between the schools. Baylor nearly spoiled TCU’s perfect regular season. The Bears dominated just about every statistic in last year’s meeting. They topped TCU in first downs, rushing yards, total yards, and time of possession. Still, TCU, the nation’s fourth-ranked team, came out with a 29-28 victory. Let’s preview what could be a crucial Big 12 matchup late in the season.

TCU leads the series over Baylor 58-53-7

TCU has won seven of the last ten contests

TCU currently holds a three-game winning streak against Baylor

The Baylor football team entered the 2022 season with high hopes following their Big 12 championship win the previous year. Unfortunately, the team’s performance fell short of expectations, with a final record of 6-7 and a four-game losing streak to close the season. Coach Dave Aranda changed the coaching staff to return the program to its previous success.

Moving forward, the Bears will need improved quarterback play from Blake Shapen and a strong defensive effort to match the level of play they achieved in 2021 when they allowed an average of 26.8 points per game. It is clear that the team has the potential to compete for the conference title, but it will require a collective effort and focus from all members of the program to achieve that goal.

Baylor’s Offensive Outlook

QB Blake Shapen is back and is coming off a season in which he threw for almost 2,800 yards and 18 touchdowns, with ten interceptions. He held onto his starting position even after Sawyer Robertson joined the team. Shapen’s progress in 2023 could have a big impact on Baylor’s offense. Richard Reese, the running back, is also returning after a strong first year where he rushed for over 900 yards. However, the offensive line must find replacements for four starters, which could be difficult.

On the flip side, Sawyer Robertson, a redshirt sophomore, was a highly-rated four-star prospect with limited action at Mississippi State. He had an outstanding high school career at Lubbock Coronado, amassing 11,302 yards and 135 touchdowns.

Baylor’s Defensive Outlook

In 2022, Baylor’s defense overcame numerous obstacles, ranking 39th overall. The team was forced to replace several key players, which posed a significant challenge to their defense. The secondary, in particular, was hit hard as they lost four starters, while the pass rush and run defense also had room for improvement. Despite these challenges, Baylor’s management has added some new talent to the mix, potentially improving the defense’s performance in the upcoming season.

The defense will undergo significant changes this season, with numerous new faces joining the team. While Devin Lemear is the lone returning starter in the secondary, his impressive performance last year - which included 57 tackles, two interceptions, and two fumble recoveries - has certainly earned him a spot on the team. Fortunately, adding Miami transfer Isaiah Dunson is expected to bring much-needed experience to the cornerback position.

On the defensive line, Gabe Hall may replace standout player Siaki Ika, a feat that will be no easy task. Fortunately, TJ Franklin, Matt Jones, and Garmon Randolph are all established playmakers, which should help anchor the team. Observing how newcomers Bryson Jackson and AJ McCarty perform in their roles with little experience will be intriguing.

Matchup vs TCU

Each of the last two games has come down to the end. Making this Big 12 rivalry one of the more entertaining ones. Both teams have lost a good amount of talent. However, with new faces in new places and players ready to step up. We can expect another close battle in this rivalry.