Baylor head coach Matt Rhule knows the Texas Longhorns are one of the most confident teams in the country following one of the biggest wins in the program’s recent history.
But he thinks his team is pretty confident, too.
One week after kicking a fourth-quarter field goal to beat Kansas State and move to 2-1 in conference play, the Bears head to Austin to face off with eh high-flying No. 9 Longhorns Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
"Texas is a really good team,” Rhule said. “Our guys have to come out and play very confident. Texas is playing well. They have three top 25 wins. They are a team that is clicking on all cylinders. We have to completely focus on ourselves. We will make sure our guys are ready and confident."
The Longhorns have beaten the Bears three years in a row, their longest winning streak against Baylor since winning 12 straight from 1998-2009. And Texas’ current streak of five straight wins is its longest since 2013.
When the two teams faced off a season ago in Waco, the Longhorns were without Sam Ehlinger, but Shane Buchele threw for 256 yards and a touchdown and Texas scored 17 second-half points to run away with a 38-7 win.
Ehlinger was 25-of-35 passing for two touchdowns and rushed for 72 yards and three scores in the win against the Sooners and was named Maxwell Award Player of the Week.
Rhule is familiar with Texas head coach Tom Herman and his system, having faced off when Rhule was the head coach at Baylor and Herman and quarterback Greg Ward were shining at Houston.
“Sam is a great competitor,” Rhule said. “He brings a lot to the table in the terms of his ability to run the football. He can run zone read and scramble and he is extremely accurate, and he takes advantage of his big receivers. He is playing very well and is in a system that allows him to excel.”
Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer was last on the same field as Ehlinger when they were both seniors in high school. Brewer’s Lake Travis topped Ehlinger’s Westlake in the state semifinals on the way to a state title.
Ironically, the Cavaliers and Chaparrals face off the day before their two former signal callers take the field at DKR.
Brewer threw for 296 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 10 yards and a score in last week’s win over the Wildcats. Despite two true freshmen making their debuts in the secondary, Baylor’s maturity is starting to shine through.
“When you get into conference play, a lot of your games are going to come down to the end,” Rhule said. “And usually, to me, winning games in the fourth quarter comes down to confidence, it comes down to trust. Trusting in yourself, trusting in the guys around you. And I just didn't sense any panic. I sensed a team that was just determined to find a way to win the game and kept coming back and kept battling.”
When Rhule took the job at Baylor ahead of last season, he knew it was going to be an uphill battle. He told the team that even if the results on the field and in the win-loss column don’t look too good, things will get better.
Now, after winning just one game all season, the Bears have four wins, are just one game back of the Longhorns and West Virginia in the Big 12 and the players are believing even more of when the second-year head coach is telling them.
The leap of faith is starting to pay off.
“I told them all the time in camp how special I think they are,” Rhule said. “I said, ‘you're believing in what we're doing, you're doing it day-in and day-out, without any evidence.’ When you start to win, you'll say it's all worth it, it will all make sense. That's when the guys really start to believe in the process that you're doing.”