How they match up
Baylor offense vs. Duke defense
Whether it’s been Charlie Brewer or Jalan McClendon at quarterback, Baylor’s passing offense has been productive. However, the running game struggled in last weekend’s 37-20 win over UTSA with just 91 yards. The strength of Duke’s defense is a line that features end Victor Dimukeje, who already has 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hurries this year. Baylor’s offensive line needs to show it can carve out holes and protect the passer consistently, which could be tough against the Blue Devils.
Duke offense vs. Baylor defense
The Blue Devils’ offense suffered a severe blow in last weekend’s 21-7 win over Northwestern when quarterback Daniel Jones broke his clavicle near the end of the third quarter. Stepping in is junior Quentin Harris who has only seen spot duty. However, he’s a pass-run threat that the Baylor defense will have to contain. Baylor’s defense made a step forward by holding UTSA to 255 yards last weekend while collecting four sacks. Now they’re looking to force more turnovers after getting two interceptions but not recovering a fumble in the first two games.
Key matchup: Baylor running backs vs. Duke defensive line
The Baylor running game got off to a terrific start in a season opening 55-27 win over Abilene Christian. With John Lovett and JaMycal Hasty each running for more than 100 yards, the Bears piled up 295 yards on the ground. But the backfield duo hit a snag against a more physical UTSA team by combining for 54 yards on 19 carries. Duke has limited its first two opponents to 133.5 yards per game and a 3.4-yard rushing average. Linebacker Ben Humphreys, who returned an interception for a key fourth quarter touchdown in last year’s 34-20 win over the Bears, is tied with safety Dylan Singleton with a team-high 21 tackles.
Baylor’s special teams have been a mixed bag. The kicking game has been excellent as Connor Martin has hit all five field goal attempts, including a career-high 50-yarder. Punter Drew Galitz is averaging 42 yards on six punts and has nailed 10 of his 15 kickoffs for touchbacks. However, Baylor’s kick and punt returners have looked indecisive. Duke’s Brittan Brown is averaging 26.3 yards on three kick returns while T.J. Rahming is averaging 11.5 yards on two punt returns. Collin Wareham has hit both of his field goal attempts while Austin Parker is averaging 42.3 yards on 10 punts.
The Bears will try to avenge last year’s loss to Duke in Durham, but they’ll need to show a lot more offensive consistency. Though the Blue Devils kept the ball more than 38 minutes, the Bears trailed by just four points going into the fourth quarter thanks to Denzel Mims’ 44-yard and Chris Platt’s 79-yard touchdown catches from Zach Smith. Baylor’s defense needs to rattle quarterback Quentin Harris who is replacing injured Daniel Jones. If the Bears can force some key turnovers, they can pick up a big home win.