Bears clinch a spot in the Big 12 championship game while the Longhorns are staring at the possibility of a .500 record
Posted November 23rd, 2019
WACO — This Central Texas metropolis somehow makes people do crazy things. Then again, football coaches aren’t exactly normal themselves.
Texas’ Tom Herman gathered his troops before Saturday’s game against No. 14 Baylor and looked directly at Malcolm Roach. Herman took off his cap and started head-butting his senior captain multiple times.
Bam, bam, bam. One more for the hell of it. Whack!
The Longhorns were supposed to be targeting a win at McLane Stadium, not each other. Herman sure looked dazed and confused after the Bears notched a 24-10 win before 49,109 onlookers on the banks of the Brazos River.
“We were fired up,” Roach said. “Never question how ready we are to go out there and play a game.”
With the win, Baylor (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) clinched a spot in the league championship game on Dec. 7. Texas (6-5, 4-4) made that miserable drive back down Interstate 35 knowing it must beat Texas Tech the day after Thanksgiving to avoid a .500 regular-season finish.
As for what happened, there were mostly blank stares in the visiting team locker room.
Asked to judge the team’s overall effort, Herman said, “That was the theme all week. I would hope to God that we wouldn’t see a lack of effort.”
Asked how the offense has fallen off, quarterback Sam Ehlinger said, “That’s a great question. I don’t know. Our defense is doing a great job of playing hard, and we’re not handling our side of the bargain.”
Asked if his senior season has gone the way he thought, center Zach Shackelford said, “What do you think?”
Roach looked despondent.
“When you’re winning, you’re on top of the world,” he said. “When you’re losing, you feel like you hit rock bottom because we put in so much work every day. That’s the reason you feel like this after every loss, because you put so much into it and it doesn’t go your way, it’s just hard to swallow.”
Ehlinger was right about one thing. For the second straight week, Texas’ defense played winning football and the offense didn’t do its part.
When it mattered, Texas couldn’t get any deeper than the Baylor 30-yard line. The Horns only broke through in garbage time as Daniel Young scored from four yards out with one second left. Afterward, Baylor students tried to start a half-hearted “UT sucks” chant, but eventually just gave up. It wasn’t worth it.
Down the stretch, three UT linemen were called for 15-yard penalties, be they personal foul or unsportsmanlike calls. Guard Parker Braun appeared to get ejected after talking back to Big 12 official Mike Defee, something that really drew Herman’s ire.
“Obviously, there in the fourth quarter to lose our composure was ridiculous. Unacceptable,” Herman said. “It will be dealt with punitively, I can assure everyone of that.”
The Horns had 391 yards, 68 of which came on Keaontay Ingram’s long run that set up Cameron Dicker’s 48-yard field goal before halftime. The rest of the day was nothing but dink and dunk passes by Ehlinger, who finished with 200 yards.
Texas finished 4 for 13 on third-down conversions, had nine penalties for 104 yards and allowed five sacks.
Baylor’s Charlie Brewer completed 16 of 25 passes for 221 yards and one touchdown. Denzel Mims had seven catches for 125 yards. Baylor’s win snapped Texas’ four-game winning streak in the series.
One play summed up the entire day for both teams. Baylor had fourth-and-5 from the Texas 44 in the waning stages of the third quarter. UT defensive end Ta’Quon Graham jumped offside, giving Baylor a free play. It was his third penalty in a forgettable day and the second straight week the Horns jumped offside on a critical fourth down.
Given a free pass, Brewer fired a bullet to Mims, who made a ridiculous contortion to catch it for 16 yards.
This was just not Texas’ day. Long before kickoff, the team announced receiver Collin Johnson (hamstring) and nickel back B.J. Foster (neck) were ruled out. At this point, Johnson may pull the plug on his UT career as the senior can look ahead to his NFL prospects.
Ingram wasn’t doing much in the first half. But he shook loose on first-and-10 from the Texas 2 and sprinted 68 yards. Finally, a breakthrough. But Ingram injured his ankle on the play, walked slowly to the locker room and was done for the day.
Herman said Ingram and safety DeMarvion Overshown (ankle) will both have MRIs on Sunday to determine the severity of their injuries.
Ingram finished with 86 rushing yards, Ehlinger had 79 and the Horns tallied 191 as a team. But it was just a long day of fits and starts.
Early on, there were bright spots. On the game’s second play, Baylor’s Chris Platt caught a 44-yard pass and UT’s D’Shawn Jamison knocked the ball loose. Chris Brown jumped on it for the turnover. But Texas went just 38 yards over the next 10 plays, getting as close as the Baylor 39.
Oddly enough, Texas had only one three-and-out on 12 drives. Even on a busted play when Ehlinger wasn’t ready for the snap, he still somehow found Malcolm Epps for a 7-yard gain. Ehlinger also pulled a Houdini-like escape from his own end zone, dodging a safety.
Texas just couldn’t harness all that energy for any sustained time. Baylor would drop eight defenders into coverage, rush three and force Ehlinger to go with check-down throws.
The Bears were all over the Longhorns’ slow-developing plays, almost as if they knew it was coming. Baylor had answers for everything, and it’s a big reason why coach Matt Rhule’s club is headed to Arlington. Even Herman said the Bears are having a “special season.”
“Hats off to Baylor,” Herman said. “It was a pretty stellar defensive performance.”
For Texas, the wheels have fallen off completely.
“We know it’s a good opportunity to go out there and represent this school,” Roach said. “We tried to do that to the best of our ability. Unfortunately, it just didn’t go our way.”
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.