By Michael Haag | Sports Editor, Claire-Marie Scott | LTVN Sports Reporter
Baylor football’s night didn’t get off to a strong start when head coach Dave Aranda had to be escorted through a sea of students in the pregame tunnel. And little did he know that his team would be struggling to swim upstream all night long.
The Bears were overwhelmed by No. 3 Texas, as the green and gold fell 38-6 Saturday night at McLane Stadium. Baylor not only lost its Big 12 opener but also fell in what was the last matchup against UT as a conference foe.
“It’s disappointing. It’s frustrating,” Aranda said. “Guys are hurting, and we all are. So, it’s something that needs to get fixed, and our intention is to fix it.”
LTVN’s Claire-Marie Scott brings you on the sidelines for Baylor’s loss
The Longhorns (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) dominated from the start, eventually building a 28-6 first half lead. The Bears (1-3, 0-1 Big 12) were kept out of the end zone despite six trips to the red zone. Junior wide receiver Ketron Jackson Jr. said the inability to hit pay dirt boils down to “execution.”
“It is a mindset because you have to give effort,” Jackson said. “You’re that close. You’re a few yards away. Seven points is way better than zero points. … We just have to execute.”
Even though Baylor couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone, Aranda said he was proud of the chunk plays the offense was able to connect on. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Sawyer Robertson hit Jackson for a 39-yard gain in the first quarter, and Robertson connected with junior wide receiver Monaray Baldwin for gains of 23 (second quarter) and 55 (third quarter) yards.
“I think it was more of, ‘Hey, we beat a guy [on a play],’ but when it still came down to [combating] tight coverage [in the red zone] and having to execute, that was something that we struggled through all night,” Aranda said.
Redshirt junior quarterback Blake Shapen was unable to play due to an MCL sprain suffered against Texas State on Sept. 2. Shapen is now day-to-day, according to Aranda, and the fourth-year head coach said he’s hopeful Shapen can return next week.
Robertson got another start in relief of Shapen and totaled a career-high 203 yards through the air on 20 of 35 passes and one interception. Junior quarterback RJ Martinez also stepped in for a few drives and recorded 102 yards on 50% completions.
The Bears struggled in the run game, as the Longhorns held them to just 60 yards on the ground across six rushers. Baylor managed to keep it a one-score game 7-3 by the end of the first quarter, but Texas outscored the green and gold 21-3 in the second quarter.
UT cruised to the 38-6 win via 10 third quarter points and held the Bears scoreless in the entire second half. Redshirt sophomore safety Devin Lemear said it was disappointing to see the team fall apart like that. Lemear said a lot of it has to do with a lack of collective juice among the group.
“We know we practiced way better than this, and it hasn’t been able to translate for whatever reason,” Lemear said. “We made a big emphasis on energy, and we tried to have an emphasis on that, and it kind of died out.”
Redshirt sophomore kicker Isaiah Hankins drilled a 22-yard field goal in the first quarter before knocking home a 36-yarder in the second. Hankins’ two kicks were all Baylor could put on the scoreboard, as Texas secured its first win in Waco since 2017.
UT wraps up the conference rivalry with an 81-28-4 lead in the all-time series record. Texas also silenced a crowd of 49,165, which marked the fifth-largest attendance in McLane Stadium history (11th largest in program history).
With the Longhorns headed to the SEC in 2024, they may not face the Bears for a long time, since nonconference matchups are set about 10 years in advance. The series between the two schools dates back to 1901, with league competition starting in 1916.
The student section also executed a blackout for Saturday’s night contest. It was entirely student-led, as Baylor Athletics did not endorse or support the movement in the week leading up to the game. Students did a similar movement ahead of Baylor’s night game against Kansas State in 2022, but Baylor Athletics alluded to supporting that on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The Bears now face their first road test of the season, as they have to play at UCF for a 2:30 p.m. CT contest next Saturday at FBC Mortgage Stadium in Orlando, Fla. The game will be broadcast on either FS1 or FS2.
Aranda said this early season adversity allows his squad to show what it’s made of.
“All of this will be put to the test,” Aranda said. “We’re looking forward to playing a really good team [in Orlando], which I know will be a tough environment too.”