In a shocking upset, the Texas Longhorns defeated the Baylor Bears by a score of 23 to 17. For the Longhorns, the defeat of Baylor is the biggest upset in the last 20 years. On senior day, Baylor fans are left pondering what could have been for a Baylor team that looked to be one of the nation’s best.
“This is probably the best Baylor team that’s been here and the record doesn’t say it but we have so much talent and such great leadership but stuff happens,” said junior receiver Corey Coleman.
Coleman was introduced with the seniors before the game, signaling his departure to the NFL. Coleman had one of the best seasons ever by a Baylor receiver, posting 67 receptions for 1,314 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Coleman will have one more game to pad his stats before declaring for the draft.
While Coleman had a great individual season, the Bears 2015 campaign as a whole has been marred by injuries. After losing Seth Russell and Jarrett Stidham to injuries this year, third string quarterback Chris Johnson suffered a concussion in the first quarter today.
Receiver Lynx Hawthorne entered the game at quarterback, and the jitters were noticeable from the start.
“At halftime I was sitting there, thinking, you’re at quarterback. It was a blur to me. There’s some no-no’s that you don’t do at quarterback that I had to learn the hard way,” said Hawthorne.
With Hawthorne at the helm, the Bears suffered as a one-dimensional unit. In the second half the Bears resorted to exclusively using the Wildcat formation, putting running back Johnny Jefferson at the quarterback position.
Jefferson performed well, rushing 23 times for 158 yards and score.
“When you’re working with a fourth string quarterback, who’s a receiver, we knew we were going to have to run the ball to have a chance to win,” said left tackle Spencer Drango.
On the day, the Bears totaled 395 yards on the ground. After trailing 20-0 at halftime, the Bears rallied late to get the game to 20-17 at the start of the fourth quarter. However, Jefferson would fumble on the Bears next drive, allowing Texas to wind the clock down to almost nothing.
With the Bears forcing a Texas punt with 67 seconds remaining, an intentional grounding penalty and a failed Jay Lee throwback play sealed the Bears fate.
“Very disappointing situation for our seniors, and for our university and our football team. We just have to salvage the year by going and winning a bowl game,” said head coach Art Briles.
With the loss, that bowl game will no longer be the Sugar Bowl as most of Baylor nation predicted. Instead, the Bears will be headed for Orlando to match up with an ACC opponent in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
After a season in which many predicted the Bears to compete for a national championship, a 9-3 regular season finish leaves many wondering what could have been. While Bears nationwide are surely disappointed in the finish, Baylor football has taken a tremendous leap the last half-decade.
“From not even going to a bowl game to now [being] expected to be in the playoff, if not a New Year’s Six bowl. It’s crazy how far its come but it’s the standard now here and we did a good job setting that,” said defensive tackle Beau Blackshear.
At 9-3 the Bears still have a good chance to win 10 games in a season for their third straight season. However, the bowl will still be challenging, The Bears will face the number 2 ranked ACC team, which would either be North Carolina or Florida State depending on the outcome of the ACC championship game.
While Bears’ fans can certainly morn the loss to an incompetent Texas’ squad, the question will always remain what this team could have accomplished if healthy. Still, 9-3 must be seen as a great effort by this injured bunch and the Bears’ dynasty will surely continue in 2016.