The perfect way to encapsulate the gap between Baylor and Texas right now is to examine Bryce Petty’s stat line and then look at the final score. Baylor’s senior Heisman Trophy candidate completed only seven of his 22 passes, and for a scant 111 yards. And the Bears won by 21.
Crucial special teams play and a defense patient enough to allow Texas’ offense to self-destruct pushed No. 7 Baylor past Texas 28-7 in Austin.
Let’s start with Petty’s numbers – or lack thereof. Part of Petty’s silence was Texas’ defense, which took away the middle of the field and kept the Baylor passing attack out of rhythm for most of the day. It definitely wasn’t in the game plan for Petty to complete 4-of-11 passes for 43 yards in the first half.
Baylor took a 14-0 lead, and thus effectively put the game away, on the strength of its special teams. Beau Blackshear blocked a Nick Rose field goal, which Terrell Burt returned 62 yards to put the Bears up 7-0 at the 9:02 mark of the first quarter. That was the only score of the first half, although it should not have been.
The Texas defense mounted a goal line stand, stuffing Petty millimeters from the goal line on fourth-and-goal, and then promptly marched 98 yards in 14 plays, seemingly putting itself in position to forge a 7-7 tie with half a minute remaining until halftime. But Tyrone Swoopes lost Jake Raulerson’s snap and – who else? – Blackshear hopped on the loose pigskin to preserve a 7-0 lead and send Texas into its locker room with a steel-toed gut kick.
On Baylor’s second possession of the second half, punter Spencer Roth tucked the ball and ran 19 yards on a 4th-and-5, giving the Bears new life at the Texas 48. A clearly shocked Texas defense then allowed plays of 10, eight and 30 yards, the last on a Petty scoring strike to Antwan Goodley, to push the lead to 14-0.
Texas did have one chance after the goal line catastrophe to make Baylor sweat, on the possession before Baylor eventually notched its second touchdown. Taking over at the Baylor 36, Swoopes found John Harris between two Bears defenders for a 34-yard gain, but Harris was hit with an utterly ridiculous taunting penalty pushed the ball back to the 45. Three plays and one penalty later, and William Russ was punting from his own 44.
Shock Linwood and Johnny Jefferson dominated the rest of the game, gashing the interior of the Texas defense and shedding tackles to the tune of 39 carries for 220 yards and one touchdown.
Texas got good production behind its tandem of Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray with 138 yards and a two-yard garbage time touchdown on 26 carries, but inconsistent decision making and execution by Swoopes (15-of-33 for 142 yards with two interceptions, 13 carries for 38 yards) doomed every Texas drive but the last one.
The most alarming development for Texas: Swoopes played his best in his first start against UCLA, and has regressed in the two games since.
Baylor, which will surely rise to the Top 5 in tomorrow’s polls following losses by No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Alabama, No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 6 Texas A&M (with No. 5 Auburn still in action as of this writing), has now beaten Texas is four of the past five seasons, with the last three wins coming all coming by 20 points or more. It gets more difficult from here, though, as Baylor hosts No. 25 and rising TCU on Saturday, while Texas faces off with No. 4 and dropping Oklahoma in Dallas.