FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Both No. 7 Baylor and No. 15 TCU are banged up, with injuries to key players and coming off recent losses that kept their much-anticipated rematch from being the de facto Big 12 championship game many had expected.
This is still a rivalry between the Big 12’s only private schools that has intensified with both teams succeeding at the same time. They were co-champions last season.
Purple paint was splattered on the statue of Robert Griffin III, Baylor’s Heisman Trophy winner, and 61-58 scrawled in green paint on a brick wall at the TCU campus, reflecting the score of the Bears victory last season.
“They’ve always not liked us very much, and that goes way, way back to when the Southwest Conference split up,” Baylor senior left tackle Spencer Drango said. “There’s a whole list of stuff that I don’t know about. But for us it will be a fun game. It is a big rivalry and a lot of fun.”
Baylor (9-1, 6-1 Big 12), which will be starting third-string quarterback Chris Johnson, can stay in contention for a third consecutive conference title with a victory Friday night.
TCU (9-2, 6-2) has a 12-game home winning streak since another three-point loss to Baylor in 2013. The Frogs can get to 10 wins for the 10th time in the past 14 seasons under coach Gary Patterson.
The Frogs will be without star receiver Josh Doctson and four-year starting senior center Joey Hunt for their regular-season finale. Both missed Saturday night’s 30-29 loss at Oklahoma, as did Trevone Boykin, though the senior dual-threat quarterback — who was at one time a Heisman Trophy front-runner — could play against Baylor after hobbling around on a sore right ankle.
“He’s the one guy that you have to really appreciate,” Patterson said of Boykin. “So many people early in his career talked so badly about him about how he couldn’t do this or couldn’t do that. To see him change it around and do all the things he’s been able to do and how he handles everything on and off the field, not just on the field, that’s the thing that’s been fun for me to watch.”
Some things to know about the most-played series for the schools separate by about 90 miles. Baylor holds a slim 52-51-7 advantage:
TO WIN THE BIG 12: For Baylor to claim a third consecutive conference title, it has to win its last two games (against TCU, then Dec. 5 at home against Texas), and No. 9 Oklahoma State has to win Bedlam at home against No. 5 Oklahoma on Saturday night. The Bears are coming off a win at previously undefeated Oklahoma State, a week after they lost at home to the Sooners.
QUICK SCORES: TCU has scored a first-quarter touchdown in 24 consecutive games, a Big 12 record. Baylor is the only team in the nation to score on its first drive in every game this season — and all of those have been touchdowns.
FLUKE PHOTO: Baylor’s 2015 team photo taken before the season has senior offensive lineman Jarell Broxton (No. 61) and Drango (No. 58) side by side. School officials insisted then that it was a “weird coincidence” and not meant to show the TCU score. TCU fans have never bought that explanation. “They can keep whining because we’re just going to go out there and show them that we are the better team,” Boxton said this week.
LONG WAY FROM LT: Senior running back Aaron Green has 1,100 yards rushing, and with eight more will have the most yards for a TCU running back since LaDainian Tomlinson led the nation with 2,158 yards in 2000. Robert Merrill had 1,107 yards in 2003.
WET WEATHER: It was already raining Thursday, and wet weather was forecast through Saturday. Plus, temperatures are expected to drop during the day Thursday and feel like the 30s by kickoff. There is a natural turf at Amon G. Carter Stadium, but an improved drainage system was included when a new grass surface was installed two years ago. But it could get messy since that turf was being painted earlier this week.