By Daniel Hill
After the Oklahoma Sooners defeated the Oklahoma State Cowboys earlier in the day, the Texas Longhorns versus Baylor Bears contest shifted into a de facto Big 12 Championship game.
The No. 9 Baylor Bears answered the bell and closed Floyd Casey Stadium out in style by thumping the Longhorns 30-10 on Saturday.
“Words couldn’t really describe the way I felt or the way this team’s felt,” junior quarterback Bryce Petty said.
On a day with temperatures in the low 20’s and a numbing wind, the Bears defense snared two interceptions and held the Longhorns to 217 total yards.
“Overall, this might have been the best game we’ve played as a defense, and we’re certainly not done yet,” senior safety Ahmad Dixon said.
Since Baylor won the Big 12 Conference outright, Baylor will receive an automatic bid to the BCS Fiesta Bowl, where Baylor will most likely play University of Central Florida.
“We are deeply indebted for all the support we’ve received, not only tonight, but all season long to close out Floyd Casey in style,” head coach Art Briles said. “I think our fans did and I think certainly our football team did. It’s very gratifying and humbling from that standpoint.”
On Baylor’s first series of the first quarter, the Bears scored their only points of the first half after senior placekicker Aaron Jones knocked down a 22-yard field goal to give the Bears an initial 3-0 lead.
The Texas offense relied heavily on the running game and running backs Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron carried the torch to take the Longhorns to the Baylor 27-yard line where placekicker Anthony Fera missed a 44-yard field goal attempt.
Head coach Art Briles rolled the dice on Baylor’s next possession by opting to run a fake punt. Senior linebacker Brody Trahan, a former quarterback for the Bears, took the snap and threw the ball for senior Clay Fuller, but the pass fell incomplete.
Given the short field after Baylor’s failed fake, Texas could not take advantage of the field position after a three-and-out.
Baylor senior placekicker Aaron Jones, who is the leading scorer in the history of Baylor football, missed a 49-yard field goal on Baylor’s next drive.
Baylor’s defense forced their first takeaway of the game after Texas quarterback Case McCoy to threw an errant pass deep down the Baylor sideline. Senior cornerback K.J. Morton picked off the pass to keep Texas from putting points on the board.
The reliable Jones missed his second field goal attempt of the contest when he mishit a 35-yard field goal attempt.
Texas scored its first points of the contest with 4:28 to go before the end of the second quarter when Anthony Fera knocked a 42-yard field goal through the uprights to tie the score 3-3.
To start the second half, the Bears offense was more in rhythm and the atmosphere at Floyd Casey was sparked by the return of senior safety Ahmad Dixon, who was suspended for the first half of the game because of a targeting penalty last week against TCU.
With Baylor receiving to start the second half, senior running back Glasco Martin asserted his physicality by rushing the ball twice for 11 yards to earn Baylor a first down. From there, the offense kept plugging along and started to fire on all cylinders on this brutally cold Waco night.
Petty found junior receiver Antwan Goodley for 21 yards and then fired a strike to junior receiver Levi Norwood for nine more yards. Petty rushed the ball on a quarterback keeper for 10 yards to the Texas 27-yard line. Redshirt freshman running back Shock Linwood powered forward for five more yards and on the next play Petty found Goodley once more for 16 yards.
Facing a third down and nine yards to go, the Baylor offense broke through after Goodley miraculously snared a slant pass with one-hand to score Baylor’s first touchdown of the night and to give Baylor a 10-3 lead over Texas.
Goodley recorded eight catches for 114 yards with one touchdown.
After a three-and-out from Texas, the Baylor offense started to resemble a jet engine. Between five rushes scattered among junior running back Lache Seastrunk, Martin and Petty, the Bears gained 43 yards to earn a first and goal.
Seastrunk tallied 78 yards rushing on 15 carries.
With the offense spreading out the Longhorns defense, Petty looked to his left to find Norwood on a quick slant for an easy Baylor touchdown to make it 17-3 with 2:02 to play in the third quarter.
Norwood hauled in four passes for 36 yards and a score.
Baylor kept pouring on the points and after another Texas punt, Jones gave Baylor three more with a 42-yard field goal, 20-3.
In the fourth quarter, the Longhorns were in dire straights. Facing a fourth and goal from the two-yard line, McCoy made a magical play by scrambling to his left, evading Baylor defenders and then whirled around to find Brown in the end zone for Texas’ first touchdown and to make it only a two possession game, 20-10.
Jones knocked down a 28-yard field goal to give Baylor a 23-10 lead.
With five minutes to play, it was do-or-die time for Texas.
From the Baylor 42-yard line on second and 10, the Longhorns tried to set up a screen pass for Malcolm Brown, instead, the ball soared over the intended target and into the hands of Morton. With all the momentum going Baylor’s way, Morton returned the ball 57 yards to the three-yard line, but an unsportsmanlike penalty on Baylor brought the ball back to the 18-yard line.
It did not matter, and on the next play Martin dashed 18-yards into the end zone to give Baylor a 30-10 lead and effectively end Texas’ hopes.
Martin was the Bears leading rusher with 22 carries for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
The Baylor defense forced another three-and-out and then the Bears offense went into victory formation to officially seal Baylor’s first ever Big 12 Championship in the last season at Floyd Casey Stadium.
“I think the thing that has really been impressive this season is how consistently we’ve played on the defensive side of the ball all year long,” Briles said. “There have been very few peaks and valleys. We’ve been really good and really consistent all year long with coach Bennett and his staff and those eight seniors. We had a lot of confidence defensively coming into the season.”
McCoy finished 12-of-34 for 54 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Brown totaled 131 yards on 25 carries.
Texas’ leading receiver in the contest was also Brown with four grabs for 19 yards.
The Baylor defense held Texas to only two third-down conversions on 17 attempts and limited the Longhorns to 1.6 yards per pass.
“This is one of the greatest things I’ve ever been a part of in my life,” Dixon said.
Baylor racked up 508 yards of offense behind 287 yards passing from Petty and 221 rushing yards.
Petty started the game by looking a little off with some throws, but his final stat line shows his efficient day with two touchdowns and completing 21-of-37 pass attempts.
“When I was sitting in coach’s office and he was talking about where he wants this program to be, that’s what hit me,” Petty said. “This is what that vision is. To be in this spot, with this team, I couldn’t be more proud. I’ve said it all along, this is a special team this year.”