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Texas D trying to stop an irresistible force in Baylor O

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The Bears would give Vance Bedford nightmares if he could actually sleep.

David Purdy

When the defense for the Texas Longhorns takes the field against the high-powered Baylor Bears offense on Saturday afternoon in Austin, it may well be the case of a movable object going against an irresistible force.

At least, that's what defensive coordinator Vance Bedford sees any time the Bears take the field.

"I haven't really seen anyone stop them. Baylor stops themselves. Somebody says we're a 14-point underdog, I'll give them 21 points right now."

The comments from Bedford weren't the first time this week that a Texas coach seemed unsurprised by the line against Baylor. Currently sitting at more than two touchdowns, the line will make the Horns a bigger underdog than they have been at home in a generation.

On Monday, head coach Charlie Strong laughed when told about how big of a 'dog his team will be on Saturday.

Just how scary is the Baylor offense, which is putting up 56.8 points per game (No. 1 nationally) and 641 yards per game (No. 1 nationally)?

"If it was up to me, I might not even show up for the game," Bedford said. "I'll waive a white flag; I surrender. I have to be honest. You talk about not sleeping, not eating. Trying to defend these guys, it does it all to you."

Presumably, the defensive coordinator is joking and the Horns will indeed trot out onto the field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium with the usual American flags instead of blank white versions. The statement does, however, underscore the point about how difficult it is to stop the Baylor offense.

In fact, Bedford said that he watched a great deal of film and didn't find much to make him feel better about the upcoming match up.

"[There have been] sleepless nights and restless days trying to figure out how to slow them down. I've looked at every video from last year and the year before that and no one has really slowed them down," he said. "You look at the bowl game they played in, they still put up 40+ points and they went up and down the football field."

The best bet that Texas or any Baylor opponents had last season was inclement weather. In the cold against the Horns, the Bears were hurt by some drops and suffered a similar fate against the Cowboys in Stillwater, though the consequences were much more severe against Oklahoma State, as Baylor lost that game 49-17.

It was the only game that the Bears lost on the season until going down at the hands of the Golden Knights in the Fiesta Bowl and it may have cost them a chance at playing in the national championship game.

Whatever hope Bedford took from those two particular games was quickly dashed when he checked the weather report.

"One thing I finally figured out, it's not going to be cold," he said. "The dropped balls aren't going to happen. What we need to do is have a great pass rush. We need to rush four, we need to rush three, to be honest we may have to rush two and drop nine. It's trying to take away passes."

Texas will attempt to accomplish that task while going against an underrated rush offense that is producing almost 240 yards per game at 5.1 yards per carry, good for a No. 11 ranking nationally in rush S&P.

So make no mistake -- Art Briles will happily run the ball for 300 or 400 yards against Texas if the Horns opt to take a passive approach defensively. For instance, the 3-3-5 defense that Strong and company employed against Kansas last week consistently conceded four or five yards on the ground. Against a better offensive line and better running backs, those four or five yards could turn into seven-yard gains or eight-yard gains. And then probably some longer runs, too, as the Baylor running back corps is still quite explosive despite the loss of Lache Seastrunk.

The nature of the Baylor attack creates two major concerns for Bedford. The first is alignment, as the Bears often break off big plays simply because the defense hasn't had a chance to get into position before the ball is snapped. The second is tackling in open space. Truly a spread offense because it stretches defenders all the way to the sideline with wide splits and an aggressive down-field passing game, the Baylor attack forces defensive backs to make one-on-one tackles.

For most defensive coaches, rallying to the football and gang tackling is a major emphasis, but it's one that doesn't work against the Bears.

For defensive coaches like Bedford attempting to prepare for Baylor, there's more than just sleepless nights amid hours of attempting to watch enough film to catch someone at least slowing them down significantly, there's also the immediate physical discomfort.

"Boy my swagger is down right now," Bedford said. "After watching that video I was thinking my goodness, my stomach is in knots right now."

Mine, too, coach.

Basically, it's going to take an act of God or of nature for Texas to slow down the Baylor offense enough to win. An act of nature doesn't appear likely with a forecast that calls for sunny skies in Austin with a high of 81 degrees and winds at only six miles per hour, leaving an act of God as the more likely scenario.

And the Baptists have gone to some lengths to take that out of the equation as well.

Maybe that white flag would at least save some embarrassment.