Tuesday, November 21, 2017

NCAAB Game Preview: Texas Arlington vs. Alabama - 11/21/2017 - 9:00 PM EST

NCAAB Game Preview: Texas Arlington vs. Alabama - Date: 11/21/2017 Time: 9:00 PM EST  Alabama is set to play its first game as a ranked team in almost six years. Inside Info. That ranking will be tested Tuesday when the No. 25 Crimson Tide (3-0) faces Texas-Arlington (2-0) at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Winning Sports Handicappers. The Mavericks made an early-season statement on Saturday, winning 89-75 at BYU. UT Arlington shot 54.1 percent and made 12 of 20 3-pointers in the victory." They hit shots and we didn't," BYU junior guard Elijah Bryant told the (Provo, Utah) Daily Herald. "We shot horribly from the 3-point line. MLB Handicappers. They executed their stuff really well. They've got three pros on their team . That's a good team, an NCAA team." Kevin Hervey scored 23 points and pulled down nine rebounds, and Erick Neal had 21 points and 10 assists for UT Arlington, which led by 25 midway through the second half. A year ago, the Mavericks were 27-9 and won the Sun Belt Conference regular-season title but went to the NIT after losing in the conference tournament semifinals. They have set their sights higher this season." This is definitely a team that can win games in the NCAA Tournament, but you can't win games unless you get there," UT Arlington coach Scott Cross told the (Fort Worth, Texas) Star-Telegram." (The Sun Belt has) been a one-bid league for a while, so if you come up short in that conference tournament, your chances of getting there are slim and none. So, we have to be playing our best basketball that weekend in March." Cross will depend on Hervey, a 6-foot-9 forward, and Neal, his 5-10 point guard to get the Mavericks there. Alabama is ranked for the first time since the week of Dec. 17, 2011. Crimson Tide guard Jon Petty made a school-record 10 3-pointers on Friday in a 104-67 rout of Alabama A&M. Petty, a freshman, was just 5-for-17 from long distance in wins over Memphis and Lipscomb." We asked him to start off faster in practice," Tide coach Avery Johnson said, according to AL.com. "Some guys are slow starters and you've got to get 'em going, but he started practice off fast and he was a lot more focused in practice (Thursday). Probably one of his better practices." Petty needed just 13 attempts to set the record." I think the basket was as big as the ocean for him tonight," Alabama A&M coach Donnie Marsh said. "He's a talented kid." The Crimson Tide will be without Braxton Key and Ar'Mond Davis on Tuesday, but senior forward Riley Norris could see his first action of the season. Key and Davis are recovering from knee injuries, while Norri s has been sidelined with a hip injury." Riley will be a game-time decision," Johnson said, according to the website BamaOnLine. "So, what that means is he'll go through another practice (Monday), and then we'll evaluate him in the morning in terms of how he recovers from this practice." Norris is one of only two seniors on the Tide roster." There's a level of confidence and a level of leadership because he knows what he's doing and he's very familiar with playing in games like the one we're going to have -- whether he plays (Tuesday) or the games in Brooklyn," Johnson said. "So, he understands the passion and attention to detail must be needed to be successful." Alabama faces BYU on Friday in New York in the first round of the Barclays Center Classic, which also includes Massachusetts and No. 14 Minnesota. The Mavericks, playing their third consecutive road game, return home to take on Western Carolina on Friday.


NCAAB Game Preview: So Illinois vs. Louisville - 11/21/2017 - 7:00 PM EST

NCAAB Game Preview: So Illinois vs. Louisville - Date: 11/21/2017 Time: 7:00 PM EST  After a single-digit win over 0-4 Omaha on Friday, No. 19 Louisville is facing a big step up in competition Tuesday night when Southern Illinois visits the KFC Yum! Center. Louisville coach David Padgett said the Cardinals (2-0) must play better than they did last Friday. Free Guaranteed Sports Picks. The Salukis (2-0) brought three starters and a host of role players back from last season's third-place Missouri Valley Conference team." Our first two games were a test -- a test in different ways, but a test nonetheless, but this game (Tuesday) is going to be the biggest test we have faced so far, without a doubt," Padgett said. "Any time you face a team that has 10 of their 12 players as juniors or seniors, you know you are going to be in for a war." Louisvi lle looked good at times against its first two foes but played so poorly in the second half against Omaha that Padgett called it "embarrassing." That was a bold charge from an interim, 32-year-old coach, but Padgett said his team didn't take his critique the wrong way." Oh, they know," Padgett said. "They are all experienced enough to know when they didn't play well. We made a cut-up of all the bad plays and reviewed the film. I asked them if they thought I was being too harsh with my criticism and none of them said 'yes,' so they know." These two teams are fairly familiar with each other. Louisville holds a 4-2 series lead. Best Sports Picks Today. The Cardinals walloped the Salukis 74-51 last December, jumping out to a big early lead. SIU coach Barry Hinson said, "Well, I hope it starts better than it did last year because the shock and awe hit us and we wer e down 14 to nothing to start the game. We have a game plan, but I am not going to be too open about what we are going to do defensively and what we are going to try to do offensively." Padgett is hoping his team has a start like the one last year's team delivered against SIU." I know we beat them last year, but they are much improved from last year," Padgett said. "They have a couple of new guys who are helping them. It is going to be a good test. It is going to be a very, very good test for us." Hinson said Louisville's incredible length -- the Cardinals start a lineup that is 6-foot-1 and 6-6 at guard, 6-7 and 6-11 at the forwards with a 7-foot center -- is a major issue." We all know what the elephant in the room is -- we have to handle their length, and we have to handle their athleticism," Hinson said. "We have to be able to make really good decisions offensively." The Salukis will have to contend with the Cardinal s without their top big man, Thik Bol. Winning Sports Handicappers. The SIU senior had knee surgery on Nov. 3 and is out six weeks." Anybody that wants to have a chance against these guys has to rebound and has to handle their length on the offensive end," Hinson said of the Cardinals.


NHL Game Preview: Vancouver Canucks vs. Philadelphia Flyers - 11/21/2017 - 7:08 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: Vancouver Canucks vs. Philadelphia Flyers - Date: 11/21/2017 Time: 7:00 PM EST Venue: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pa., 19148 / PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers aren't very happy that they will be without their most physical defensemen until Dec. 12. On Sunday night, Radko Gudas was issued a 10-game suspension for slashing Winnipeg Jets center Mathieu Perreault on the back of the neck on Thursday." I was surprised. I didn't expect that," Gudas told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Monday. "I mean, I don't agree with it, but I accept their decision." Gudas, who has been suspended two other times, sat out Philadelphia's 5-4 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames on Saturday. He will miss the next nine games, including the Tuesday night showdown between the Flyers (8-8-4) and the Vancouver Canucks (9-8-3). Baseball Ha ndicappers. The Flyers have won three of their past 12 games, and the Canucks have won three of their past 10. Gudas will forfeit $408,563.60 in salary." The point of all this is to get rid of the stupid moves, really," Perreault told the Winnipeg Sun after learning the length of Gudas' suspension. "Hopefully, that sends him a message." With Gudas unavailable and Andrew MacDonald still working his way back from a knee injury that has kept him out of 12 games, AHL veteran Mark Alt is expected to remain in the lineup and play alongside rookie Travis Sanheim on the Flyers' third defense pairing." There's not a lot of flash to what he's been doing," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said of Alt, "but he's been giving us a real solid 12 to 14 minutes a night." The Flyers are 3-5-4 since MacDonald left the lineup. Free Guaranteed Sports Picks. The Canucks are coming off a 4-3 overtime home loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, a game in which they led 3-1 midway through the second period. Sports Handicapper Records. They have lost two straight and four of five." This is a resilient group," Vancouver defenseman Erik Gudbranson said. "This is a moment where you have to look at yourself in the mirror and come to play the next game. Don't necessarily forget it, but put it in the back seat and leave it there. Use it to your advantage and tighten things up." The Canucks rank 26th in the NHL in scoring (2.55 goals per game) and 23rd on the power play (16.3 percent). Vancouver is getting very little offense out of former Flyers winger Sam Gagner, who has two goals and four assists through 20 games. Gagne, who had 50 points with the Columbus Blue Jackets last season, signed a three-year deal with the Canucks during the summer. The Canucks are star ting a six-game road trip and are hoping to carry some of their road success -- they are 6-3-0 on the road and 3-5-3 at home -- into Philadelphia." I think we have been great on the road," Vancouver left winger Sven Baertschi said. "I don't know what it is. It's just the way it is. I think it's simplifying the game on the road. That's just part of it. Winning on the road is important." The Canucks released right winger Anton Rodin from his contract on Monday and recalled defenseman Philip Holm, 25, from AHL Utica. Patrick Wiercioch will take Holm's place in Utica. Vancouver defenseman Chris Tanev (thumb) is not expected to play Tuesday but could return during the six-game trip. The Flyers placed right winger Matt Read on waivers on Monday. Philadelphia goalie Michal Neuvirth (2.17 goals-against average, .928 save percentage) is expected to get his first start in six games Tuesday. Jacob Markstrom (5-7-2, 2.63 GAA, 909 SP) is expec ted to get the call for the Canucks.


NBA Game Preview: Chicago Bulls vs. Los Angeles Lakers - 11/21/2017 - 10:38 PM EST

NBA Game Preview: Chicago Bulls vs. Los Angeles Lakers - Date: 11/21/2017 Nov 20, 2017 LOS ANGELES -- Three of the 10 players who were selected first-team All-Pac-12 earlier this year could play significant roles when the Los Angeles Lakers host the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night at Staples Center.Lonzo Ball (UCLA) and Kyle Kuzma (Utah) start for the Lakers, and fellow first-round draft pick Lauri Markkanen (Arizona) starts for the Bulls.Kuzma leads the Lakers in scoring at 16.5 points per game and Markkanen leads the Bulls at 15.6 points while also topping the team at seven rebounds per game.Markkanen, a 7-foot power forward from Finland, is coming off a season-high 26 points in a 113-105 loss at the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.Kuzma, a 6-9 stretch forward, posted his season high of 30 points in a 122-113 loss to the visiting Suns on Friday.Ball, a 6-6 point guard, logged his second triple-double of the season in a 127-109 win over t he visiting Denver Nuggets on Sunday, finishing with 11 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists. Ball had his first triple-double on Nov. 11 in a 98-90 loss at the Milwaukee Bucks."This one's a lot better," Ball said Sunday. "I actually like this one." Ball joined Magic Johnson as the only Lakers with multiple triple-doubles during their rookie season.Ball's performance was especially welcomed because he had struggled in the previous three games, combining for 15 points on 7-of-26 shooting and failing to produce more than six rebounds or assists."The media will probably love him (Monday) and hate him again the next day," Lakers coach Luke Walton said. "He's going to stay level-headed and keep doing what he does. We're gonna keep saying we support him, he's gonna keep getting better."That's just going to probably be the process of how this plays out." Unlike Ball and Markkanen, both top seven draft picks last Jun e, Kuzma was selected late in the first round.Consistency has been one of Kuzma's best attributes. He has reached double figures in scoring in all 10 games this month with four double-doubles.Markkanen has been steady as well, reaching double figures in scoring in 13 of 14 games and producing four double-doubles this season."He's very low maintenance," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg told the Chicago Tribune on Sunday. "For a guy who has only been in the States for a year and a 20-year-old kid, the way he picks things up shows he has a tremendous basketball IQ." The game will also feature the latest matchup between twin brothers Brook Lopez of the Lakers and Robin Lopez of the Bulls.Robin has never come close to averaging more points than Brook in any of their previous nine seasons in the NBA, but Robin has closed the gap significantly this season.Robin comes in averaging 13.3 points after never averaging more than 11.3 for a season.Brook is averaging 15 .4 points, down from his career average of 18.5.They last faced off on April 8, when Robin played for the Bulls and Brook for the Brooklyn Nets. Robin finished with 16 points and eight rebounds and Brook had 13 points and five rebounds in a 107-106 victory by the Nets.


NHL Game Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. St. Louis Blues - 11/21/2017 - 8:08 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. St. Louis Blues - Date: 11/21/2017 Time: 8:00 PM EST Venue: Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO, 63103 / ST. LOUIS -- At least two of the players on the St. Louis Blues claim they did not know the team has gone 15-5-1 to begin this season. Best Free Sports Picks. The Blues will carry that record, the best in the Western Conference, into Tuesday night's game against the Edmonton Oilers -- and even coach Mike Yeo has tried to downplay the team's spot atop the standings." I try not to pay attention to it either," Yeo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "You know, we talk about staying in the process through the game and it's the same way for the season. If we just keep showing up to the rink and making sure that we're prepared to play and playing good hockey, then we'll like where we're at at the end of the year." Defenseman Joel Edmundson and center Paul Stastny told the newspaper after the team's 4-3 overtime win Saturday night in Vancouver they were not aware of the team's record through the first quarter of the season." We just go out and play," Edmundson said. "It doesn't really matter to us. We worry about one day at a time. Worry about that game. Standings will take care of themselves." The Blues went 2-1-0 on their swing to western Canada, including a 4-1 win against the Oilers in Edmonton last Thursday. Sports Betting Profit. The Oilers also lost 6-3 on Saturday in Dallas and will be playing their second game on a five-game trip. Sports Picking Services. The early-season success for the Blues has come despite the absence of some key players, including defenseman Jay Bouwmees ter, who has not played because of a broken ankle suffered in the preseason. He was activated from injured reserve on Monday and is expected to make his season debut on Tuesday night. Forward Patrik Berglund, who underwent shoulder surgery in the summer, also is practicing and could be back in the lineup in a couple weeks. The Oilers are at the other end of the standings from the Blues with just four regulation wins and 16 points through 20 games, which ranks next to last in the Western Confernce. The team's biggest problem has been letting in too many goals -- 64, the third most in the conference -- and their minus-14 goal differential is the second worst in the conference." The goalies have to be better, the defense, the forwards, the coaches have to be better," coach Todd McLellan told the Edmonton Sun. "None of us have lived up to where we need to be and that's why we're where we are in the standings. "I'm not going to single out t he goaltender. It's team-wide." Goalie Cam Talbot, who has started 18 of the first 20 games, knows his performance has to be better for the Oilers to be successful." Maybe I don't have to steal games, but I have to give us a chance to win," Talbot told the Sun. "The difference this year and last is my consistency. I've had some good games but others I want back and I have to eliminate those ones."


NCAAF Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Virginia - 11/24/2017 - 8:00 PM EST

NCAAF Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Virginia - Date: 11/24/2017 Nov 20, 2017 CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Virginia Tech and Virginia will square off for the 99th time Friday, playing for the Commonwealth Cup, which has been firmly in the Hokies' possession lately. Virginia Tech, which moved back into the Associated Press poll at No. 24 this week, will be looking to make it 14 consecutive wins over the Cavaliers when the teams meet at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville. "Just the brutal facts, it's been a long time," Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall said about the Cavaliers' losing streak to the Hokies. Virginia (6-5, 3-4 ACC) is having its best campaign since 2011, although Mendenhall's first taste of the rivalry was a sour one a year ago as the Cavaliers got walloped in Blacksburg 52-10 to close out a 2-10 season. This year, Virginia is already bowl eligible and is looking for its first win in the se ries since 2003. "I have a better understanding for almost everything about or program than I did last year," Mendenhall said. "This game is for the state championship, which deserves our best preparation and intent and practice habits and work ethic. " The Hokies (8-3, 4-3) need to beat Virginia and win their bowl game to notch their second straight 10-win season. Coach Justin Fuente, in his second season with Virginia Tech, will experience the rivalry on Virginia's home turf for the first time. "They are a much-improved and completely different football team than we played a year ago," said Fuente. "They're scoring points and throwing the ball down the field. " Virginia Tech is one of the best defensive teams in the country, ranking sixth nationally in points allowed per game (14. 7) and 17th in total defense (315. 6 yards). Sports Handicapping Service Winning Streaks . The Hokies' defense is led by junior linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who has team highs with 93 tackles and 11 tackles for loss. He was selected as one of five finalists Monday for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker. "We have a lot of history of great defensive players and linebackers, but Tremaine deserves to be recognized for his play," Fuente said. "We forget sometimes how young he is and how far he has come in a short period of time. But he certainly deserves to be mentioned among the national elite. " Virginia will challenge that Virginia Tech defense with quarterback Kurt Benkert, who needs just 101 yards to set the school record for passing yards in a season. He has completed 265 of 439 passes for 2,876 yards, with 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He threw for 384 yards and four touchdowns last week against Miami, only to the see the unbeaten Hurricanes rally for a 44-28 victory. Virginia has lost four of its previous five games but took a lot of positives from last week's game. "We missed an opportunity against Miami, plain and simple," Benkert said. "We've got two more games ahead of us, so there's a lot more football to be played. " Despite the blowout last season in Blacksburg, Virginia had played the Hokies tough in recent years, losing the previous four games by a total of just 20 points. The Cavaliers will need to ramp up their rushing attack, which is averaging just 3. 4 yards per carry. Virginia Tech came up with a late goal-line stand to win 20-14 at Pitt last week, snapping a two-game losing streak. Redshirt freshman quarterback Josh Jackson, who was 17 of 37 passing for 218 yards against the Panthers, has been inconsistent in league play. "He continues to improve," Fuente said. "Josh has got to focus on making the average play on a consistent basis. The big plays will come. " Jackson has a top target in rece iver Cam Phillips (68 catches for 918 yards and seven touchdowns), but the Hokies' rushing attack, averaging 3. 8 yards per carry, hasn't been great. Virginia's standouts on defense include linebacker Micah Kiser (115 tackles, eight for loss, five sacks) and safety Quin Blanding (104 tackles, four interceptions). "I haven't been here for 13 years so it doesn't affect me," Kiser said about the rivalry. "I'm a Maryland guy so I didn't know much about the rivalry before I got to UVA, but it has grown on me. " Virginia Tech safety Khalil Ladler summed up the feelings pretty simply Monday. "They don't like us and we don't like them," he said.


NCAAF Game Preview: Miami Florida vs. Pittsburgh - 11/24/2017 - 12:00 PM EST

NCAAF Game Preview: Miami Florida vs. Pittsburgh - Date: 11/24/2017 Nov 20, 2017 Every time Miami ventures north of the Georgia-Florida line in November, it seems mandatory that the Hurricanes be forced to address the issue of weather and how they are going to cope with the "cold. " With a temperature expected to be in the 40s, however, that doesn't appear to be much of a problem when the Hurricanes (10-0, 7-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) play at Pittsburgh (4-7, 2-5) this time. What is more on Miami coach Mark Richt's mind is dealing with the short work week and getting his players ready for Friday's noon kickoff at Heinz Field. "We don't have a lot of time," Richt said. "Pitt doesn't either. These guys know. They know they have to get their rest, take care of their bodies. " Because of the juggling of the schedule created when Hurricane Irma hit South Florida in September with one game (Arkansas State on Sept. 9) canceled and another postponed (Florida State to Oct. 12 from Sept. 16), the Hurricanes lost an early open date and thus will be playing a 10th consecutive weekend with an 11th coming up Dec. 2 in the ACC Championship Game. Richt said coaches must take that into consideration. "We, as coaches, have to be wise and not do things to wear them out but still do enough to be prepared," he said. "They have to take care of themselves. " After posting their 15th consecutive win dating to last season with their come-from-behind 44-28 win over Virginia last week, the Hurricanes will be facing a Pitt team that saw its chance of keeping alive hopes of reaching bowl eligibility lost. The Panthers could not punch it in from a yard out in four tries in the closing seconds in a 20-14 loss to Virginia Tech. But coach Pat Narduzzi expects his Panthers to be ready for the Hurricanes, who were No. 3 in last week's College Footba ll Playoff rankings and are No. 2 in media and coaches' polls this week. Narduzzi expects an emotional atmosphere at Heinz Field with 14 players being recognized on Senior Day, plus "playing a tremendous football team with a ton of speed, ton of confidence, and obviously playing at a high level right now," he said. "It will be a great challenge. "We'll use Miami as a measuring stick as to how far we've grown through the entire year. " The failure to get the ball into the end zone on its final series against Virginia Tech is kind of emblematic of the season the Panthers have gone through. Though averaging a not-terrible 148 yards a game rushing, the Panthers had only 55 against the Hokies just one week after amassing 267 against North Carolina and 336 against Duke two weeks earlier. Sports Handicapping Service Winning Streaks. The game against the Hokies marked the fourth time they have failed to get to the 100 mark on the ground. Narduzzi noted that his Panthers will be going up a veteran Miami defense that is fast and talented. And yes, he is aware of the gold turnover chain that is draped around the neck of a Miami defensive player who comes up with interception or fumble recovery. Hockey Handicappers. The Hurricanes have had 19 takeaways over the last five games and 27 for the season, tied for third nationally. "They've got confidence they're going to get turnovers every time they walk out onto the field, so that's certainly going to be a key to victory -- don't get them started -- pass that chain around and have 10 or 12 guys have that chain around their neck," Narduzzi said. "We've got to make sure that things stays wherever they keep it when they walk out onto the field. Keep it in that box. " Narduzzi isn't sure who will start at quar terback for Pitt. Freshman Kenny Pickett, who finished against Virginia Tech, and sophomore Ben DiNucci are separated by "or" on the depth chart. "We've got to get a run game going," he said. It will be interesting to see how Miami rebounds after last week's close call at home to Virginia. The Hurricanes twice trailed by 14-point margins before pulling out the victory. "They beat the team we just played, 31-14, I believe,'' Richt said of the Panthers. "That's about all you need to know. "


NCAAF Game Preview: Baylor vs. TCU - 11/24/2017 - 12:00 PM EST

NCAAF Game Preview: Baylor vs. TCU - Date: 11/24/2017 Nov 20, 2017 A spot in the Big 12 Championship Game is on the line for No. 12 TCU when it hosts Baylor on Friday at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. In years past, this game has been a battle, and its winner would be in the discussion for a major bowl. This time around, only the Horned Frogs will continue on to the postseason and still have a conference title within reach. If TCU beats Baylor, it will get a rematch against No. 4 Oklahoma in the league title game on Dec. 2 in Arlington, Texas. Oklahoma beat the Horned Frogs 38-20 in Norman, Okla. on Nov. 11 to take control over the top of the Big 12 standings. Don't think for a second that TCU (9-2, 6-2 Big 12) can afford to take Baylor lightly, even though the Bears are 1-10 overall and 1-7 in league play. Expect a low-scoring game since each team relies on its defense. Winning Picks. TCU's final home game comes after a 27-3 victory over Texas Tech last Saturday in which the Horned Frogs didn't allow a second-half touchdown for the sixth consecutive game. TCU has allowed a lone field goal in the second half since a 26-6 win over Kansas State on Oct. 14, going 5-1 over that six-game stretch. "Our goal is for our seniors to have the best season they can have," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "They have a chance to win 10, 11 or 12 ballgames, which is really cool. We've got Baylor on Friday, so it's an opportunity to get to 10 wins, and that's what we're trying to get accomplished. " TCU beat Texas Tech without injured senior quarterback Kenny Hill and star running back Darius Anderson, who suffered a season-ending foot injury in the loss to Oklahoma. Patterson told reporters on the Big 12 coaches conference call Monday that Hill is "closer to probable" to pl aying against Baylor. Hill, a senior who has started 30 college games -- eight at Texas A&M and 22 at TCU -- ranks third in the Big 12 and 10th in the country in completion percentage. He has thrown just five interceptions this season. "I think (Hill's) got a chance to be back," Patterson said. "You know me -- I'm going to tell the truth. I'd say, probable to questionable, and I'd probably say closer to probable. Now. " Patterson, who usually plays his cards close to the vest, provided no updates on linebackers Travin Hill and Montrel Wilson, safeties Niko Small and Ridwan Issahaku or kicker Jonathan Song after all those players missed the Tech game with injuries. Baylor heads to Cowtown on the heels of a 23-13 loss to Iowa State. Baylor coach Matt Rhule likes the progress his defense is making. The Bears held Iowa State to 394 yards, marking the third straight game they've surrendered less than 400 yards, a major accomplishm ent in the Big 12, where high-tempo spread-offenses routinely rack up more than 500 yards a game. "The defense has gotten better," Rhule said. "It's clicked for them at some point. A lot of our young players are getting better and better and better. If we continue to improve and continue to recruit and continue to develop, the defensive structure will continue to take off. " It's the Baylor offense that has struggled this year. The Bears' offense -- which is no longer the pass-first, spread attack employed by former coach Art Briles -- has coughed up six turnovers in the past two games, and the offensive line must get much better to allow the running game to flourish and to give freshman quarterback Charlie Brewer more time to throw. Sports Monitor. The Bears are approaching the season finale against TCU with realistic expectations. "TCU is a great team," Rhule said. &q uot;I do know this: We can control how we play, and we can certainly protect the football, and we don't have to just give it to them. "I want to send our seniors out the right way, and I want to certainly continue to try to learn what it takes to win. Let's make the plays that it takes to be a great team. So that's just the next step in the progression to me. " Last year's 62-22 win in Waco gave TCU a 53-52-7 series lead over Baylor. With 112 games played, TCU has faced Baylor more than any opponent in its history. Documented Handicappers. The first game between TCU and Baylor was a scoreless tie in 1899. TCU is 6-3 against Baylor since the Southwest Conference dissolved after the 1995 season and are 3-2 versus the Bears in the Big 12 era.