FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Baylor coach Matt Rhule may have only been joking when he said he sometimes still wakes up in the middle of the night haunted by the memory of those highlight plays TCU’s Jalen Reagor made against the Bears last season.
They came in the last loss for the Bears, when Reagor pretty much single-handedly beat them by turning a screen pass into a 65-yard touchdown and running 37 yards for a score on a fourth-and-1 reverse.
“One of my favorite players as a college football fan,” Rhule said. “Dynamic, tough, great punt returner, great receiver, and presents a lot of challenges, as he did last year.”
No. 11 Baylor (8-0, 5-0 Big 12, No. 12 CFP) has won 10 games in a row since that 16-9 home loss to the Horned Frogs (4-4, 2-3) last November. The two teams meet Saturday in the most-played rivalry for both schools.
The Big 12’s only undefeated team has won three of its conference games by three points each. The Bears beat West Virginia 17-14 in their last game Halloween night, when they blocked a late field goal try.
“You look at the teams that are undefeated right now … if you’re at Clemson or Alabama, don’t you think you’re probably used to hey this is how we handle being 8-0,” Rhule said. “We’re sitting there and we haven’t really been 8-0. We’ve been 0-8. We know how to do that, but we haven’t been 8-0, so how do you handle that?”
Reagor is coming off his best individual game this season, with seven catches for 128 yards in TCU’s loss at Oklahoma State last Saturday.
The Frogs have lost three of their last four games, but the win was over then-No. 15 Texas in their last home game. They have uncertainty at quarterback, just like in last year’s game at Baylor when a fifth-year senior who had completed only one pass before then had to finish the game for them.
Max Duggan, their freshman starter, could play after injuring the middle finger on his throwing hand late against the Cowboys. Mike Collins then took a hard shot to the midsection that will likely keep him from playing Saturday. Graduate transfer Alex Delton, a team captain who started the first two games but didn’t play in the last two, has left the team. Redshirt freshman Justin Rogers is reportedly planning to transfer.
“I’ve been doing this a long time so nothing really fazes me,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “I’m sure Alex’s deal had to do with Mike going into the ball game because we needed a pure thrower at the end of the game the other day. … I’d rather he stayed and fought through all of it, and do what he needed to do, but it’s not my call.”
It will be the 115th game in the series, which TCU leads 55-52-7 after winning the last four.
This is a matchup of two of the Big 12’s best defense. TCU leads the league allowing only 324 total yards a game, while Baylor is third at 341.1 yards per game. The Bears have the best scoring defense, giving up only 18.5 points a game, 7½ less than TCU.
Baylor will be without senior starting safety Chris Miller, who got an automatic one-game suspension after his third targeting penalty of the season in the win over West Virginia. Rhule said Miller’s first targeting penalty was because he lowered his head. After his second such penalty, the coaches told him he needed to hit lower to avoid such penalties, and that is he what he did — at the same time WVU quarterback Austin Kendall had a late slide to the ground.
ON ROAD A LOT
This is only TCU’s second home game in a span of eight Saturdays. After a 51-14 home win over Kansas on Sept. 28, the Frogs played two road games around an open date, then hosted Texas. There are two more road games after Baylor before the regular season finale at home Nov. 29 against West Virginia.
Baylor had planned for 6-foot-2, 307-pound junior offensive lineman Xavier Newman to play four games and then redshirt. That changed when Newman called Rhule before the last game, and kept saying, “Coach, I’m playing, I want to play.” West Virginia was his fifth game.
“I didn’t want to do it,” Rhule said. “He was excited that he played well and then we won the game, so we’ll move forward with him.”