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September 18, 2010

GameDay Preview: Baylor at No. 4 TCU

THE BASICS

It's the big moment for the Baylor Bears: the chance to be beat a highly ranked opponent and old rival on the road.

The Bears, off to their first 2-0 start since 2005, hit the road for the first time to play No. 4 TCU at 3:30 p.m. in Fort Worth.

Baylor will be trying for their third win (2-47) against a ranked team since the Bears joined the Big 12.

The Bears come in off a dominant performance against Buffalo. The Baylor defense has allowed two field goals in a 34-6 victory at Floyd Casey Stadium. The Bears haven't allowed a touchdown in eight quarters.

TCU, ranked in the Top 5 in both polls, has won 15 consecutive regular season games dating back to the 2008 season. The Horned Frogs rank in the top 20 nationally in five major statistical categories - total defense (8th), rushing offense (10th), scoring offense (14th), pass defense (18th) and rushing defense (20th).

TV/Radio/Internet Update

Saturday afternoon's game starts at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised by Versus with Joe Beninati, Kelly Stouffer and Lindsay Soto calling the game.

It will also be broadcast on KRZI/1660 ESPN in Central Texas and across the Baylor/ISP Sports Radio Network with John Morris, J.J. Joe and Ricky Thompson. They also can be heard in Sirius/FamilyNet Radio (Channel 161).

Live stats and audio are available at www.baylorbears.com.

Series vs. TCU

This will be the 106th meeting between Baylor and TCU. Incredibly, the series is tied at 49-49-7 with the Horned Frogs winning the last two meetings.

Prior to Baylor and TCU leaving the Southwest Conference in 1996 -- the Horned Frogs jilted by the Big 12 -- the series had played continously for 71 years (with the exception of World War II) as conference rivals. Saturday will be just the third series meeting since the Southwest Conference disbanded. In the last series meeting, then-No. 22 TCU shut out the Bears 27-0 in Fort Worth.

Baylor has won three of the last four games at Amon Carter Stadium, but is 17-20 overall in Fort Worth.

Post-Buffalo Notes

-- Sophomore QB Robert Griffin III threw for a career-high 297 yards - in three quarters before sitting out the fourth quarter - in Baylor's 34-6 win over Buffalo last Saturday. Griffin III bested his previous career high by three yards (294 vs. Northwestern State, 2008). Griffin tossed for 200-plus yards in consecutive games for the first time in his career. He has thrown for 539 yards in two games this season.

-- Baylor is a perfect 6-for-6 in redzone opportunities this season - three TDs, three FGs.

-- Tailback Jay Finley needs 149 yards to break into the top 10 for career rushing yards at Baylor.

About TCU...

The Horned Frogs are in the midst of a remarkable run of winning football. TCY has won at least 10 games in six of the last eight seasons under Gary Patterson. The Frogs have their highest ranking this early in the season in school history.

Quarterback Andy Dalton has become the face of the TCU program. He has 31 career victories as a starter, the most of any quarterback in the nation. Dalton is an error-free quarterback, third in the nation with 16 career interceptions in 978 attempts. Dalton is also a threat running the ball averaging 4.3 yards per carry.

The Horned Frogs under coach Gary Patterson are known for their stifling defense. TCU has led the nation in total defense each of the last two years and four times in the last 10 seasons. Opponents are just 9-of-25 (36.0 percent) on third-down conversions this season against the Frogs.

The three keys

1. Griffin has to be the equalizer.. TCU Gary Patterson is known to be a scheme master, but you can't really plan for a quarterback like Robert Griffin who can extend plays and kill you by taking off on the run. Griffin showed nice improvement from the Sam Houston State to the Buffalo game, and there is no question he wants this victory badly with several former high school teammates playing for the Frogs. Expect Griffin to play the best game of his career.

2. Stuff the run.. The Bears' defense is off to a great start led by nose guard Phil Taylor. That great beginning will be put to the test against Andy Dalton and the TCU offense. The Bears have to take away TCU's bread-and-butter, the running game, and at least force Dalton to make plays in the passing game.

3. Force turnovers. The Bears have come up with only three turnovers in their two victories. To win a big game on the road, you need at least three takeaways. Baylor only has one interception in two games. The Bears' secondary needs to somehow force Dalton into a couple of mistakes.

Staff Predictions

The staff here at SicEmSports.com have put together our predictions of the final outcome as the Bears take on Sam Houston State as well as what we think will happen in the game.

Todd Wills

This game comes down to Robert Griffin. If you heard his post-game comments after the Buffalo game, he basically said the Bears will win in Fort Worth on Saturday.

Personally, I believe him.

Griffin has the capabality of breaking down the TCU defense. He improved greatly from the first game to the second, and should be even better Saturday. The Bears have plenty of weapons to frustrate the Horned Frogs defense, and the running game has made enough progress to give Griffin a chance to get things going in the air.

Baylor's defense has finally reached a level where they can contend with a top offense like TCU. The Bears have the athletes to match up with the Frogs. The key Saturday is to make plays. Chance Casey needs an interception. Antonio Johnson needs to force a fumble. Someone on the defensive line needs to get to Dalton a couple of times.

The Bears have nothing to lose Saturday. They need to go in and play an intense game and let it all go against TCU team that insists it respects Baylor, but probably doesn't. It's finally time for the signature win of the Art Briles era.

Score: Baylor 27, TCU 17


Kevin Lonnquist

At this point, we really don't know who the Bears are. We know they're a much better team with Robert Griffin. He is the leader of this team. The Bears have done what they should have done and that's win decisively over two inferior opponents in Sam Houston State and Buffalo.

But going on the road and into the No. 4 team's building and pulling off a monumental upset is an extraordinary request. Sure, it can be done but the Bears are going to have to get some breaks in order to stay in this. Regardless of the outcome, one thing Baylor fans are going to find out about is just how physical this team is. Baylor must find a way to run the football to take the heat off of Griffin.

TCU is likely going to collapse on Griffin and dare him to beat them by himself.
Baylor's program is getting better. TCU's program is established. Quarterback Andy Dalton will make some plays in the passing game as TCU beats its longtime rival.

Score: TCU 31, Baylor 13



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