By Cody Soto
During a weekly press conference on Monday in advance of this weekend’s game, Texas players showed the sour taste left in their mouth from last season.
“I mean, they’re still Baylor,” senior receiver John Harris said. “I mean, just because they started playing better in this era, that’s good for them. We are who we are: we’re still Texas. Baylor has never changed. They are who they are.”
Back in Waco, both head coach Art Briles and senior quarterback Bryce Petty didn’t offer a snarky comment back. Instead, they decided to let Saturday’s matchup give the answer.
Baylor (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) looks to continue its dominant ways and silence Texas as it travels to Austin Saturday afternoon to face the Longhorns (2-2, 1-0 Big 12) at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium for its second Big 12 matchup this season.
The Bears and Longhorns meet for the first time since Baylor took the Big 12 championship title after beating Texas 30-10 at the final game in Floyd Casey Stadium Dec. 7.
Both teams come into Saturday’s matchup with Big 12 conference road wins under their belts. Baylor took a satisfying 49-28 win over Iowa State in Ames, Iowa, on Saturday night. Senior quarterback Bryce Petty threw for 336 yards and a touchdown and ran for a pair of touchdowns in the win.
“Anytime you can go get a conference win, it’s a big deal,” head coach Art Briles said. “For our guys to go up there and be businesslike, and play the game and not the environment, I thought was really a testament to where they’re at as a football team.”
Sophomore receiver Corey Coleman and seniors Antwan Goodley and Clay Fuller returned to action in the conference opener after missing time with injuries. Coleman and Goodley received for 154 and 114 yards respectively.
“It was a tremendous boost, for them and for us, because those guys have all helped us win a conference championship,” Briles said. “We’ve got to get them in game shape, and I think they got some good work [against Iowa State].”
Texas took a 23-0 win in Lawrence, Kan. over a struggling Kansas team Saturday afternoon. The Longhorns totaled 329 offensive yards and used the Jayhawks’ four turnovers to take their first Big 12 win.
Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes threw for 219 yards and was 19-of-34 passes on the night. No other Texas player tallied triple digit numbers in the win. The Longhorns average only 21.2 points per game and 315.5 total offensive yards per game so far this season.
The nation’s leading offense will be tested this week as it goes up against Texas’s defensive line. Defensive tackles Malcolm Brown and Hassan Ridgeway led the team with 6.5 combined sacks. The Longhorns are No. 6 nationally in sacks.
“Anytime you’ve got a defense as good as [Texas], that’s the challenge that football brings, and that’s what you like to have. You definitely notice that on film,” Petty said.
Texas also brings the No. 8 overall passing defense so far this season. Despite playing highly ranked competition, the Longhorns allow only 140.5 passing yards per game. Texas is also second in the nation with nine team interceptions.
“They fly around to the ball. They’re very well coached, and they’ve got a lot of athletes out there, so it’s a challenge,” Petty said. “I’ve got to make sure I’m smart with the ball, and protect the ball to give us the best chance to be successful.”
However, the Bears have yet to give up a sack this season and instead look to return the favor behind their strong defensive line. Baylor defense leads the nation in sacks allowed and tackles for loss allowed.
“Those guys are good up front. They’re getting better and they’re playing at a really intense level that we haven’t seen for a while,” Briles said. “We’ve got some guys that are really playing at a championship caliber level, and that’s what’s attributed to the sacks more than anything else.”
Baylor’s wide receiver rotation will return senior Levi Norwood to the roster after a wrist injury forced him to sit out for four weeks. Second-string running back Devin Chafin will also return to the Baylor offense against Texas.
With the entire lineup back in the game, Baylor heads into Saturday’s game confident and ready to play championship football against the Longhorns.
“Champions win games on the road, so we are stepping up to that challenge,” sophomore running back Shock Linwood said. “We’re just going to start by preparing ourselves like it’s another game. That’s what we have to do to stay focused.”
The Bears set aside all comments leading up to the match-up and look to bring home another win on the road to winning another Big 12 title.
“Putting on the green and gold is what makes it big,” Petty said. “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.”
Petty will have another opportunity to put those colors on when Baylor and Texas kick off at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Darrell K. Royal-Memorial Stadium in Austin. The game will be regionally televised on ABC.