No. 12 Baylor is undefeated and atop the Big 12 standings but can't afford to rest on its laurels as it prepares to square off against rival TCU on the road on Saturday in Fort Worth.
Saturday's contest is the first of a daunting four-game stretch in November for the Bears (8-0, 5-0 Big 12), who also face Oklahoma and Texas at home and play at Kansas.
Baylor coach Matt Rhule is working hard to keep his players on the right track and away from the hype now that the program is back on the national radar. The Bears have been moving up in the Top 25 after entering the polls on Oct. 6.
"It is all unchartered territory for our team, so I keep going out and saying my way is to not pay attention to any of that," Rhule said. "It is to just focus on this week and us. We have a lot of older guys who are doing that. And thankfully we are playing TCU, because that is a team our players know."
This marks just the third time that Baylor won its first eight games, and the first since 2015, when the Bears finished 10-3 and ranked No. 13.
The Bears' all-time best start was in 2013 when they won their first nine contests and were ranked No. 3 in the nation before losing to Oklahoma State and eventually ending up 11-2 with its first-ever Big 12 title.
"Those things are fun to hear about, but the quickest way to get rid of all that stuff is to not focus on what you are doing," Rhule said. "So we have got to improve. Thankfully, there are a lot of things to improve."
Baylor's latest game was a 17-14 Halloween night win over West Virginia in which it found a way to trudge to victory by fending off the Mountaineers' big plays. The Bears outgained West Virginia 453-219 but lost three fumbles.
The Horned Frogs (4-4, 2-3) head home after a 34-27 loss at Oklahoma State. TCU allowed 223 rushing yards to Chuba Hubbard, the nation's leading rusher, the most ever by an opponent in coach Gary Patterson's 19-season tenure in Fort Worth. The Frogs also committed four turnovers.
"As bad as we played, it was a seven-point ball game on the road," Patterson said. "When we play well and figure it out, we can beat anyone, and when we don't, we aren't going to."
Freshman quarterback Max Duggan injured his throwing hand in the final minutes of that loss but Patterson did not give any update on his status in his Monday press conference.
"I don't know. I don't know what his deal is," Patterson said about Duggan's injury. "Even if I did, I can't talk about it."
Backup quarterback Michael Collins took a hard shot on the Frogs' final offensive the Cowboys and was in the training room afterward.
Adding to the problem is that fifth-year senior Alex Delton left the program, Patterson said Tuesday. The Kansas State transfer opened the season as the starting quarterback, but lost the job to Duggan after two games.
TCU's defense will be a challenge for Baylor. The Horned Frogs lead the Big 12 in total defense by allowing 324 yards per game and rank fifth in scoring defense by allowing 26.1 points. Baylor leads in scoring defense at 18.5 points per game.
TCU and Baylor have played each other 114 times, with the Horned Frogs holding a 55-52-7 edge after a 16-9 victory last season in Waco. TCU has faced Baylor more than any opponent in its history.
--Field Level Media