Longhorns Let Big 12 Title Loose
Faced with chance at conference title, Longhorns lose to Baylor
By Russ Espinoza,
7:41PM, Sun. Dec. 8, 2013
While the SEC, Big 10, and ACC staged their neutral-site conference title bouts under big-city lights in palatial professional stadiums, Oklahoma’s 33-24 upset over No. 6 Oklahoma State – which finished just moments before Texas and Baylor got underway – set the stage for a far less frilly de facto Big 12 title game in Waco.
A dreary, windy, and altogether bone-chilling Saturday afternoon saw a fairy tale marriage of the Old with the New for Baylor football., as the Bears (11-1, 8-1 in the Big 12) claimed their first-ever Big 12 championship by beating Texas 30-10 in the final game at 64-year-old Floyd Casey Stadium.
The Longhorns (8-4, 7-2 Big in the 12) squandered Oklahoma’s gift and lost-out on the 2013 conference championship and subsequent Fiesta Bowl invitation. That much is certain. What isn’t is how this finish will affect who leads the program into 2014.
The game’s conditions hampered the passing attack of Texas quarterback Case McCoy from start to bitter end, making running back Malcolm Brown the offense’s only consistent spark. The junior tailback gashed the Baylor defense for 118 yards in the first half – the most at halftime by a UT back since Jamaal Charles torched Texas Tech for 167 in 2007 – but played a reduced role later on because of second half deficits that necessitated emphasis on passing.
The Longhorn defense had a banner first half against the nation’s top-ranked offense: bending only to allow three Baylor field goal attempts (two of which missed), but not allowing Bryce Petty, Lache Seatrunk, and company to deliver any of their customary quick-strike damage.
Texas scratched-out their first points on a 42-yard Anthony Fera field goal that knotted the game at 3-3, a score which held into halftime. The second half was all Baylor. Their offense – which looked entirely pedestrian since their loss at Oklahoma State on Nov. 23 – came out of hibernation at last, while Texas’ remained stuck in neutral and played the majority of the game without second-string tailback Joe Bergeron, who injured his ankle in the first half.
The Bears scored 17 unanswered points by aggressively taking to the air. On their first possession of the third quarter, Petty hit receiver Antawn Goodley three times for 48 total yards, including an 11-yard touchdown grab to cap a 14 play, 77-yard scoring drive that gave Baylor a 10-3 lead.
Petty’s groove held fast for another ten points in the third, and Baylor was up 20-3 at the start of the fourth.
McCoy’s lone touchdown pass was a dazzling one on fourth-and-goal from the Baylor two. Escaping pressure deep in his backfield, McCoy whirled around and arced a soft strike to Malcolm Brown in the back of the end zone, cutting Baylor’s lead to 20-10.
But McCoy’s next impactful fling came with under five minutes left and Texas down 23-10. This time, his ball found the hands of Baylor cornerback K.J. Morton – the result of confusion on the part of senior receiver Mike Davis, who abandoned his route to block, thereby giving Morton a lane to intercept and make a return to the Texas three-yard line. Baylor tailback Glasco Martin ran for an 18-yard touchdown on the very next play to put the Longhorns on ice, 30-10.
McCoy will be smarting from how he fared in the final regular season game of his college career. The scrappy senior finished 12 of 34 for just 54 yards (a 1.6 yard average), with a touchdown and two interceptions.
The dream of a conference championship for this snake-bitten Texas team is dead. But at least they’re out of the cold, and figure to stay that way with a likely invite looming to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., on Dec. 28.