By Shehan Jeyarajah
For the fourth week in a row, Baylor faced a first-half deficit and lacked consistent production on offense. Unlike the previous week against Oklahoma State, Baylor’s defense was able to step up and make plays to lead No. 9 Baylor (10-1, 7-1) to a 41-38 victory over Texas Christian University (4-8, 2-7) on Saturday at Amon Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.
With the win, Baylor pulled into a tie with No. 25 Texas and No. 6 Oklahoma State for first place in the Big 12. All three teams atop the Big 12 have a record of 7-1 in conference, and each plays Saturday.
Oklahoma will play Oklahoma State in Stillwater in a bitter Big 12 rivalry game. If Oklahoma State wins, then they will be the outright Big 12 Conference champions since the Cowboys would own the tiebreaker over both Baylor and Texas. If the Sooners defeat the Cowboys and Baylor tops Texas, then the Bears would win their first ever Big 12 Conference title.
After losing two of its first three nonconference games, Texas has won seven of eight Big 12 conference games and shored up their previously porous defense. Baylor and Texas will meet this Saturday in the last ever game at Floyd Casey Stadium.
“Floyd Casey has a lot of tradition,” Petty said. “It’s our job to make sure that we end it out right. End that tradition on a good note and start a new tradition with the new stadium on a good note.”
Baylor has won a school-record tying nine consecutive games at home and last loss at Floyd Casey on Oct. 13, 2012 to the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Baylor trailed the Horned Frogs 17-13 with 6:18 left in the second quarter after a 21-yard touchdown pass by TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin. From there, the defense pulled Baylor back into the game.
Sophomore defensive tackle Beau Blackshear recovered a fumble on the 1-yard line to set up a Bryce Petty touchdown scamper with 3:47 left in the half. With the clock winding down in the second half, freshman safety Orion Stewart picked off Casey Pachall and returned the ball 82 yards for a touchdown with under a minute left in the half.
Only two minutes into the second half, senior linebacker Eddie Lackey picked off another pass by Pachall and returned it 54 yards for Baylor’s second defensive touchdown. The three-touchdown swing gave Baylor a massive 34-17 lead.
A targeting call on senior safety Ahmad Dixon took him out of the game with more than 10 minutes left in the third quarter. After Dixon was ejected, TCU went on a 21-7 run to cut the lead to 41-38.
Driving with less than 90 seconds remaining in the game, Pachall led the Horned Frogs offense to the Baylor 23-yard line. On 2nd-and-10, Pachall launched a pass to Brandon Carter heading to the end zone. Baylor senior nickelback Sam Holl got a hand on the pass, and tipped it to sophomore safety Terrell Burt with 11 seconds left in the game.
“This is one of the biggest wins we’ve experienced since we’ve been at Baylor,” head football coach Art Briles said. “It’s a big testament to our football team, our players, their resolve, their toughness, their character and their belief.”
Coming into the game, Baylor’s offense had averaged seven offensive touchdowns per contest. Against TCU, the Bears managed only three total offensive touchdowns, and one was set up by a fumble recovery.
Junior quarterback Bryce Petty struggled throwing the ball against TCU. Despite throwing the ball 38 times, he finished with only 206 yards passing, or 5.4 yards per attempt. That is well below his season average of 11.9 yards per completion coming into the game. Petty still leads the nation in yards per attempt with 11.2 yards.
After missing the previous two games because of an injury, junior running back Lache Seastrunk and senior running back Glasco Martin returned to rush for a combined 163 yards. Freshman running back Shock Linwood received one carry after a combined 66 carries in the previous three games.
Baylor finished with 370 yards of offense, well under its average of 635.1 yards per game. Baylor also scored 41 points, under its season average of 55.4 points per game. Junior wide receiver Antwan Goodley was held to 12 yards receiving behind a dominating performance from TCU’s senior cornerback Jason Verrett.
“It’s us,” senior left guard Cyril Richardson said. “I feel like we may be looking around for too much and trying to see too many things… We need to go back to hard-nosed football, and that’s basically it.”
No. 9 Baylor will play No. 25 Texas at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Floyd Casey Stadium. The game will be broadcast on Fox.