Baylor coach Matt Rhule compared the Bears regular-season finale versus Texas Tech to a playoff game during his Monday press conference.
Rhule's observation was an astute one as the winner between Baylor and Texas Tech will become bowl eligible, while the loser's season will be over when the Bears and Red Raiders meet at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday.
"It'll be good for our seniors to have a chance to have this opportunity, go out in a showcase-type event," Rhule said. "And it'll be really good for our young players because as we continue to grow and develop, we hope that the program is one in which every November we're playing games that matter."
However, the actual merit of winning such a playoff game is less clear. The Red Raiders have lost four straight and have seen a promising season marred by turnovers and quarterback injuries. Baylor dropped a golden opportunity to get bowl-eligible by losing to TCU on Saturday, so the Bears have now lost a couple in a row as well. And even the team that wins between the Bears and Red Raiders will only be headed to a bottom-tier bowl game.
Even so, Baylor has to like being in this position a lot more than Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders have underachieved in the Kliff Kingsbury-era, winning more than seven games only once in six seasons and suffering losing campaigns three times.
Meanwhile, Baylor is ahead of schedule in its rebuild. After struggling to a 1-11 mark a year ago, just being on the cusp of a bowl game at the moment is something for the Bears to celebrate.
"All of this is tremendous opportunity," Rhule said. "This game is the most important game because it is the next one on our schedule. At the end of the year, if we win this game it will mean no more than the other five wins if we are able to make it to a bowl game."
Texas Tech and Baylor have played at a neutral site in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for the past 10 seasons. The two schools will return to campus games beginning next season at Baylor in Waco, Texas.