This is will be an exciting match-up for two teams on the come-up. There is plenty of talent on both of these teams, yet they both struggled to get through the season. It came down to the final games for both teams to gain bowl eligibility. Bowl games are a reward for teams and their coaches. The extra practices and games give younger players more game experience, as well as the benefit of easing the transition into spring ball and the following season.
This will be the third meeting between these two teams. They played in 1953 and 1954, Baylor winning both match-ups. This is Baylor’s second appearance in the Texas Bowl and marks its 24th bowl appearance in school history. On the other hand, Vanderbilt is making its first appearance in Texas Bowl and its ninth bowl appearance in school history.
Baylor (6-6, Big 12)
Matt Rhule‘s first season as head coach at Baylor was abysmal, as the Bears went 1-11. His second season was considerably better, it ending with a season finale win over Texas Tech to become bowl-eligible. Baylor is led by sophomore quarterback Charlie Brewer, who had 2,635 yards, 17 TDs passing, 266 yards, and six TDs rushing. Yet due to knee surgery, Baylor will be without their Big 12’s offensive newcomer of the year, Jalen Hurd. Hurd had 946 yards in 69 catches. Brewer will have to rely on WR’s Josh Fleeks and Marques Jones to fill the huge void left by Hurd.
The Bears defense is no stranger to high powered quarterbacks, yet Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmur will be sure to test them. Baylor’s defense only forced nine turnovers this season and had 24 sacks. They were led by driving force James Lynch. He had nine tackles for loss as well as 5½ sacks this season. The Bears will be looking to take Shurmur down and stop his arsenal of targets.
While the Bears have the firepower to put points on the board, they haven’t played as many strong teams as the Commodores have. Their defense should be able to keep Vandy’s offense in check. Maybe. This will be a high scoring game that the Bears will have to pull out all the stops to pull out a win.
Vanderbilt (6-6, SEC)
Vanderbilt started the season strong and most notably, they lead some great teams down to the wire. While their lack of roster depth proved to be their downfall, this team is exponentially better than their 6-6 record reads. Their late-season winning streak with three wins in the final four games was crucial to the team. Vandy’s offense is averaging 27.7 points per game, and are playing smart with just 13 turnovers this season.
The Vanderbilt defense is led by new defensive coordinator, Jason Tarver, who has made the Dores relentless and opportunistic this season. A key player on that defense is junior cornerback Joejuan Williams. He picked off four passes and broke up 10 passes. The swarming defense will keep Baylor’s scoring in check.
The Dores are led by senior quarterback, Kyle Shurmur. During his prolific four-year career at Vandy, Shurmur has passed for 8,759 yards, breaking a Vandy team record of 63 touchdowns. The run game was led this season by Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who massed 1,001 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing. Vaughn’s counterparts this season, Khari Blasingame and Jamauri Wakefield, added another 738 yards rushing and five touchdowns to the Vanderbilt offense.
Notably, Shurmur has endless targets at his disposal. The Vandy wide receivers were led by Kalija Lipscomb with 81 catches for 886 yards and nine touchdowns. Jared Pinkney has made 45 catches for 698 yards and seven touchdowns, while C.J. Bolar has made 31 catches for 397 yards and two scores. Also adding to those receiving totals were Ke’Shawn Vaughn with 13 catches, 170 yards, and two touchdowns, and Khari Blasingame who made 22 catches for 235 yards.
Pre-Game Activities in Houston
If you are traveling to the Academy Sports and Outdoors Texas Bowl in Houston for the game, there will be an abundance of activities for fans to attend. Be sure to check out all that the bowl game has to offer, starting with a chance to win a seat on the field by posting on Instagram (learn more here). Fans will also have the opportunity to attend the pregame luncheon with the coaches and players. To purchase tickets to the luncheon, click here.
Furthermore, Texas is a hotbed of great live music, and the Texas Bowl will deliver a kick off concert for all the fans to enjoy. Check out the lineup and purchase tickets click here. There will be tailgating as well, for more info click here. While The official pregame party will start at 5pm on game day (more information here). Just down the street from the pregame party will be spirit walks for each team; you can find the map on the events page here. Overall, there will be plenty to do while waiting for kickoff.
A Good Cause
In case you cannot attend the game, you can always support a good cause by making a donation. Vanderbilt lost one of their student-athletes Turner Cockrell on November 29th to cancer. As he was treated at MD Anderson in Houston, Vanderbilt set up a link to purchase and DONATE tickets in honor of Turner Cockrell. You can find out more information here:
In honor of Turner Cockrell, fans can purchase @TexasBowl tickets to be donated to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Tickets will be donated directly to the doctors, nurses and hospital staff who helped treat Turner, and other families currently undergoing treatment. pic.twitter.com/OBmcyoKH0p
— Vanderbilt Football (@VandyFootball) December 13, 2018
Date: December 27, 2018
TV: ESPN and Watch ESPN App
Time: 8:00 pm CST
Location: NRG Stadium – Houston, Texas
Main Photo Credit: