BEVO BEAT

Texas 38, Baylor 7: Horns get back on track at expense of winless Bears

Posted October 28th, 2017

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It’s over at McLane Stadium in Waco. Texas, which was a 7-point favorite today, has beaten winless Baylor 38-7.

Why Texas (4-4, 3-2) won: Another solid week for the defense, which for a change didn’t go up against the nation’s No. 1-ranked offense. Baylor is a far cry from Oklahoma or Oklahoma State, so take Saturday’s statistical output with a grain of salt — the Longhorns had 431 yards of total offense, held a 19-11 advantage in first downs converted three of their four red zone trips into points. And the Bears committed three turnovers which led to 10 Texas points.

Why Baylor (0-8, 0-5) lost: There are reasons why the Bears are winless. The run defense is as bad as advertised. Matt Rhule’s decision to rotate Zach Smith and Charlie Brewer in and out of the lineup only resulted in a neutered offense that never found a rhythm. And Texas’ defense is as good as advertised, so that was a factor, too. The three turnovers were real killers and they came in different ways — a pick-six, a fumble, another fumble and don’t forget the botched punt snap. Next Saturday’s road game at Kansas can’t get here soon enough.

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Next up for Texas: At TCU next Saturday, 6:15 p.m.

How it all happened:

FIRST QUARTER

Texas 7, Baylor 0. On the game’s third snap, DeShon Elliott corralled a tipped pass and returned his sixth interception for a score. (He started the day tied for the national lead, with five.) A John Bonney fumble recovery at Baylor’s 16 set Texas up for another score, but Joshua Rowland’s 27-yard field goal try was blocked. That pick-six was the last play of the quarter for Baylor starter Zach Smith. Freshman Charlie Brewer, the hero of the West Virginia loss, went 5 of 6 for 40 yards the rest of the quarter.

Texas: DeShon Elliott 43-yard interception return (Joshua Rowland kick, 14:06)

SECOND QUARTER

Halftime — Texas 21, Baylor 7. Shane Buechele, making his first start since the Iowa State game, produced points with his arm and legs. His 15-yard pass to Lil’Jordan Humphrey (Humphrey’s first career touchdown) capped a 90-yard drive; Buechele was 6 of 6 on it. And when a botched Baylor punt snap gifted the ball to Texas at the 28, Buechele ran it in for his second rushing score of the season. Baylor’s lone score was set up by a 52-yard play-action pass to Blake Lynch down to the 3-yard line.

Texas: Lil’Jordan Humphrey 15-yard pass from Shane Buechele (Rowland kick, 9:42)

Baylor: John Lovett 2-yard run (Connor Martin kick, 8:38)

Texas: Buechele 28-yard run (Rowland kick, 3:51)

THIRD QUARTER

Texas 24, Baylor 7. Bonney’s second fumble recovery of the day set up a short field goal; Texas, which failed on two fourth downs in the first half, opted to kick it on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Toneil Carter scored from 12 yards out, but it was called back by a holding penalty on Terrell Cuney, starting at center for the injured Tristian Nickelson. Buechele threw an interception in the end zone on the very next play. Baylor failed to convert a fourth-and-2 with 51 seconds left, giving Texas the ball at the 28. The Horns ended the quarter facing a third down at Baylor’s 19.

Texas: Rowland 18-yard field goal (5:55)

FOURTH QUARTER

Final — Texas 38, Baylor 7. Did we see two freshmen — Toneil Carter and Daniel Young — assume control of the beleaguered running game? Carter started the quarter with a 19-yard touchdown run and Young ended things with a 31-yard scamper. They combined for 130 yards, the best showing by a UT running back since the San Jose State game.

Texas: Toneil Carter 19-yard run (Rowland kick, 14:55)

Texas: Daniel Young 31-yard run (Rowland kick, 1:57)

Thoughts:

1. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the Texas running game was saved — by a pair of freshmen? Carter and Young certainly showed some burst today. But then again, they showed it against Baylor.

2. Shane Buechele, making his first start since the Iowa State game because Sam Ehlinger’s in concussion protocol, played well. He was 27 of 34 for 256 yards, with two total touchdowns and an interception.

3. It took DeShon Elliott all of three plays to advance his Thorpe Award candidacy. Zach Smith’s pass over the middle went off the receiver’s hands and Elliott plucked it, then returned it 46 yards for a touchdown. He was named a Thorpe semifinalist this week.

4. The running game? The Horns aren’t trusting their backs in key situations. Texas went for it on fourth-and-2, but ran it with Buechele (1 yard). On third-and-2 in the second quarter, it was a carry by Lil’Jordan Humphrey (no gain). That led to another fourth-and-2, and the Longhorns called a pass play (incomplete). Midway through the third, it was fourth-and-goal at the 1. Tom Herman went for the field goal. In the fourth, Texas had a fourth-and-1 near midfield, called a time out to talk about it, then punted anyway.

And this against the worst rushing defense in the Big 12.

6. The defense? Solid. Again.

There was Elliott’s pick-six. Holton Hill stripped Terrance Williams of the ball inside Baylor’s 20. Charles Omenihu forced a fumble that John Bonney recovered and returned to the 16. The Bears were held to 249 total yards, including only 31 rushing. They were only 4 of 18 on third down conversions and committed three turnovers.

7. Joshua Rowland? Shaky. Baylor nose tackle Ira Lewis got a paw on Rowland’s first field goal attempt, from 27 yards out. It spoiled a golden opportunity for points courtesy of the defense; Holton Hill had stripped Bears running back Terrance Williams of the ball inside Baylor’s 20. Rowland did make a short one in the second half.

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