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June 28, 2012

Opponent Breakdown: Renewing Baylor rivalry

TCU's recent history of games against Baylor seemed to be a one-sided rivalry.
The tides turned in 2011 when future Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III ended the Frog's dominance over Baylor in a 50-48 shootout in Waco.

As the Frogs move into the Big 12 in 2012, will the rivalry continue off the momentum it gained from the Baylor win last season?

Or was it more of a TCU vs. RGIII feud?

Baylor will defend its home turf two weeks removed from taking its first loss of the season at the hands of new conference mate West Virginia, but will have a bye week in between to lick its wounds.

However, they will come into the 107th meeting against the Frogs battle tested by some unexpected teams.

A season opener against SMU will be no walk in the park. Both Baylor and SMU will start new quarterbacks with so much to prove.

Next, Baylor hosts defending FCS runner-up Sam Houston State, who returns the majority of its team from last season and will treat the game like its Super Bowl.

Frog fans should hone in on this game. Sam Houston State runs a similar system to TCU, and will give Baylor a good scout team look at what is to come against the Frogs.

TCU should be 5-0 at this point, looking to end its first tough stretch of games in 2012.

OFFENSE:

It's tough to say what caliber offense Baylor will bring next season. Senior QB Nick Florence enters the extremely tough spot of taking over for the best quarterback in Baylor history, with little experience to his name.

The only indication of Florence's talent can be drawn from the 66-42 win over Texas Tech last season, when Florence spelled an injured Griffin for the second half. He completed 9 of 12 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns, both over 40 yards.

Florence's best friend will be WR Terrance Williams, who was RGIII's second favorite target in 2011, catching 59 passes for 957 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The offensive line isn't completely new, but is a random mix of players returning from last season moving to different positions and new starters. It will be Bear fan's first chance to see 2011 high recruit Spencer Drango on the line.

DEFENSE:

Frankly, the Baylor defense won't have Griffin around to make up for its shortcomings this season.

The Bears biggest challenge is replacing its team leader in tackles, LB Elliot Coffey.

That responsibility will fall on a talented pair of defensive ends, Gary Mason and Terrance Lloyd, both returning starters. The combo combined for 5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss in 2011.

The secondary returns the most defensive starters, with three juniors and one senior.

NB Ahmad Dixon will bring the pain as a hybrid linebacker/defensive back after moving from strong safety last season.

Baylor moved to the same defense TCU runs, a 4-2-5, under new defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, putting more speed on the field than traditional defensive sets.

X-FACTOR:

The advantage lies in the team that makes defensive stops at key points in the game. Don't expect Baylor to drop off very much in its air attack. Florence is a veteran quarterback with a strong, accurate arm that could pick apart any defensive secondary in the Big 12.

TCU has to make Baylor a one-dimensional team by shutting down any attempt at a running game it presents.

Conversely, TCU should rely on its ground game to exploit an inexperienced group of linebackers, drawing in the secondary and opening up passes over the top.

Don't expect many spectacular plays in a TCU win, because the majority of the game clock should be used possessing the ball and keeping the game from becoming a shootout.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

TCU has too much riding on this game to be unprepared. The wake-up call of 2011 will still resonate with the Frogs, bringing revenge into the picture, for once.

The game won't boast high scores as many of the past matchups had, but TCU should control play through the entirety of the game.

The win will move the frogs to 6-0 on the season with Texas Tech returning to Fort Worth.


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