By Jeffrey Swindoll
The Longhorns and the Bears have been going at it since the early 1900s. For most of the 20th century, the results were pretty lopsided in favor of Texas. The dynamic of the rivalry has fluctuated over the years. The high times for the Bears have been few and far between though. The 104th game in the long-standing grudge match between the two teams kicks off on Saturday.
The Texas game this Saturday, the 104th meeting of the two teams, is a big one for the Bears. A win against the Longhorns on Saturday keeps the Bears on track for a shot at the Big 12 championship and a potential berth into the inaugural season of the college football playoff system.
The Bears will have to exorcise some of their past demons when traveling to Austin to play the Longhorns. The success rate has not been favorable for the Bears in the UT-BU rivalry at Darrell K. Royal Stadium; the Bears have only won nine times out of their 55 games in Austin.
The University of Texas was arguably the most dominant team from the state for decades upon decades of football. Scouts and prospective college players from all over the country hold UT as a top school for recruitment. Rarely has Baylor ever been considered on the same level as Texas in regards to recruiting or on-the-field play.
From 1901 to 1914, the Longhorns completely obliterated the Bears. Texas outscored the Bears over the first 13 years 453-23. Needless to say, the rivalry did not start as a competitive contest. In fact, it was hardly even considered a rivalry, if at all.
In the 20s and 30s, Baylor rather sporadically picked up some of the university’s first wins against their rivals to the south. Texas would win one year, and Baylor would win the next year, but the 40s were another decade of dominance for the Longhorns. The Bears failed to win a single game in that time period.
The 50s saw wins and losses staggered on the record charts for both teams, much like the 20s and 30s. The results in 50s were much like the 20s and 30s also in the sense that it was succeeded by another 10 years of Texas winning every game against Baylor.
The Bears went through another winless drought in the 60s. The Longhorns won every game against the Bears from 1958 through 1974. Texas’ long winning-streak was again followed by years of back-and-forth with the Bears.
The rivalry has followed a consistent pattern for over 100 years – Texas wins for a decade or so, Baylor fought back to scratch out a few games here and there, only to see Texas reclaim reins of the matchup again.
Under ex-head coach Grant Teaff the Bears saw some of their best success against the Longhorns, as well as the Southwestern Conference. From 1974 until 1992, the Bears won 10 of 19 games against the Longhorns.
Teaff is remembered as a Baylor football great. In retrospect, he was a figure that served as a peek into Baylor football’s future success. Specifically against Texas, Teaff gave Baylor fans the hope that Baylor’s inferiority in college football can be overcome, but the good times were still far off for the Bears.
The 90s and early 2000s were another rough patch for the Bears, but it was the calm before the storm for Baylor’s rising program. Texas only lost one game against Baylor from 1993 to 2009– the most successful stretch of seasons in Longhorn history not just against the Bears. Texas was the clear top dog of the state, winning the national championship in 2005.
Those were some golden years for the Longhorns and some dark ages for Baylor on the other hand. Texas’ all-time record against Baylor is 74-25-4. Texas’ conference titles compared to Baylor’s: 32 to 8. Texas’ dominates consensus All-Americans compared to Baylor’s: 53 to 13.
Baylor was on the brink of experiencing a massive change in fortune against Texas. No longer would Baylor take their losses to the Longhorns on the chin. The rivalry of the two schools down the road from each other, once a one-sided affair already crossed off the schedule by the Texas as an already guaranteed result, became a battle of two Texas powerhouses with thriving fan bases.
Only in very recent past did the tide start to turn for Baylor. Under the command of head coach Art Briles, the Bears stormed back as a conference contender and a force to be reckoned with, even against the Longhorns. Baylor has won three of the last four meetings between these two teams.
It was during a tumultuous time for the Longhorns that the Bears started to show a little more bite. Longtime Texas head coach Mack Brown announced his retirement at the end of the 2013 season after a catastrophic spell of losses and failing to qualify for a BCS Bowl Game since their appearance in the 2009 BCS National Championship game against Alabama in the Rose Bowl.
Among the notable games between Baylor and Texas over the years was the de facto Big 12 Championship game at Floyd Casey Stadium on December 7, 2013. Baylor won 30-10 to claim the school’s first Big 12 conference championship, marking a new era of Baylor football.
Texas has not been quick to adjust. In the spring offseason following the Bears’ Big 12 Championship, Texas linebacker Steve Edmond referred to Baylor as “trash” and said “[Baylor] still sucks.”
Baylor coaches and players refused to escalate any kind of trash talk in regards to the comments coming out of Texas’ camp this season.
The Bears certainly don’t have complete control of the matchup like Texas did for many decades. It’s been four years of success so far for the Bears, but in the big picture, these few years of success for the Bears could be just another short period of time of Baylor wins followed by the Longhorns winning the rest of them for the next 10 years. None of that is of necessary importance to Briles though.
“We look at every week as a new season, and we’re not trying to make long-term statements one way or the other,” Briles said. “All that stuff has really no bearing on what’s going to happen [against Texas on Saturday] or any Saturday.”
It’s a new experience for the Baylor fans. Saturday’s game between BU and UT is a big one, specifically for the fans. Senior quarterback Bryce Petty also sees it as a big game, but perhaps look at it a different way than most fans. It’s not the opponent or the stadium that makes the game special for Petty as well other Baylor players.
“Putting on the green and gold is what makes it big,” Petty said. “Being here is where I’m supposed to be, it’s where I want to be. If I wanted to be somewhere else then I would be there. I take a lot of pride in putting on my Baylor colors, and I say that with a lot of pride because of what these guys do day in and day out. I’m exactly where I want to be, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Baylor and Texas will play in their 104th meeting at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at Darrell K. Royal-Memorial Stadium.