Texas looks to rebound from two straight losses when it hosts Baylor on Saturday in a key Big 12 Conference game in Austin, Texas.
And like so many of the games in this COVID-19-influenced season, there will be plenty of unknowns when the two longtime rivals square off for the 109th time.
The Longhorns (2-2, 1-2 Big 12) return from an open week after losing to Oklahoma 53-45 in quadruple overtime in Dallas on Oct. 10. Baylor (1-1, 1-1) heads back to the field after an open week and then a 10-day program-wide shutdown of football activities due to a coronavirus outbreak on the team.
Texas has focused more on itself over the past two weeks than the Baylor team it will face Saturday.
"We're still trying to figure out who we're going to play, who the players are going to be," Texas coach Tom Herman said Monday. "Right now, our assumption is that Baylor will be here. How many players they'll have active for that game, I'm not quite sure."
The Longhorns, who rose as high as eighth in the Associated Press poll before plummeting from the poll following their two consecutive defeats, need to eliminate mistakes and penalties to climb back into the conference race.
There has been marked improvement on defense the past two games and Texas' attack is powerful, ranking first in the nation in scoring offense (49.5 points per game) and 13th in the nation in total offense (495.3 yards per game).
"To paint (our situation) with such a broad brush or a broad stroke is not really fair -- I think you've got to dive into the minutiae," Herman said. "There is no doubt in my mind that everybody in (our) locker room sees tangible improvement. There are a ton of bright spots in the last two games that we can definitely build on."
The Bears practiced Sunday for the first time since Oct. 7 following a coronavirus outbreak that included 28 players and 14 coaches testing positive after their road game at West Virginia on Oct. 3. Seventeen other Baylor players underwent contact tracing on Oct. 12.
Baylor has had three games either canceled or postponed because of COVID. It opened the season with a 47-14 win over Kansas on Sept. 26 before dropping a 27-21 double-overtime decision to the Mountaineers three weeks ago.
Baylor first-year coach Dave Aranda is optimistic his team will be ready to go against Texas.
"As far as getting 11 guys on offense and defense, I feel really good about that," Aranda said. "I feel like by the middle of the week we'll have most everybody back. So far, so good, we're headed in the right direction."
Saturday's dustup will feature two of the nation's most experienced signal-callers in Baylor's Charlie Brewer and Texas' Sam Ehlinger, both four-year starters. Ehlinger has passed for 1,211 yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions in Texas' four games this season while Brewer has thrown for 371 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions in Baylor's two contests.
The Longhorns have won four of the last five meetings overall between the two teams. Texas and Baylor have split their last 10 games, dating to 2010, with the Bears winning 24-10 at home last season.
--Field Level Media