Baylor saw its hopes of making its first College Football Playoff trip — such that they ever existed in the first place, seeing as the Bears were 9-0 and ranked 13th — dashed in a 31-3 crimson and cream avalanche last week. That was obviously disappointing, but the Bears woke up Sunday morning with this reality: they, a team that went 7-6 last year and 1-11 a year ago, could clinch a trip to their first Big 12 title game by beating hated Texas at home this Saturday. That reality was still pretty good.
No. 14 Baylor’s ferocious defense — last week’s second half notwithstanding — flattened an obviously broken Texas offense, and the Bears booked a trip to Arlington with a convincing 24-10 win on Saturday.
In fact, Baylor was a single play away from shutting out Texas for the first time since 1980. After Baylor punted the ball to Texas’ 2-yard line with 18 seconds left in the first half, the Bears’ defenders clearly expected their counterparts to concede a 7-0 halftime deficit. Instead, Keontay Ingram ripped off a 68-yard run, allowing Cameron Dicker to kick a 48-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.
That proved to be a solitary highlight for Texas’ offense. The Longhorns punted seven times, turned it over on downs once and threw one interception, as Sam Ehlinger went just 22-of-37 for 200 yards and the pick, all while taking numerous hits both inside and outside the pocket. Even Ingram did next to nothing after the 68-yard run; outside of that play, he went for just 18 yards on six carries. Daniel Young added a 4-yard touchdown run with one second left in the game.
On offense, Denzel Mims proved to be the difference, catching seven passes for 125 yards and the clinching touchdown, putting Baylor up 21-3 with 1:20 to go in the third quarter. Jon Lovett put Baylor up early with a 28-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter, and Charlie Brewer called his own number, leaping in for a 1-yard score to give the Bears a 14-3 lead with 7:36 to go in the third quarter.
The one concerning takeaway from the game is that Brewer (16-of-25 for 221 yards; 18 carries for 75 yards) left the game after taking a blow to the head with 13:22 to go in the fourth quarter. He was taken to the injury tent and then to Baylor’s locker room and did not return. Whether that was an injury precaution or a legitimate injury remains to be seen. Either way, Baylor can now officially rest its junior quarterback next week at Kansas to prepare for its first trip to the conference championship.
Baylor won Big 12 championships in 2013 and ’14, but the Big 12 did not stage a title game in those years. So while the Bears will make their first Big 12 Championship appearance at AT&T Stadium on Dec. 7, their (overwhelmingly likely) opponent, Oklahoma, will be there for the 11th time, including all three since the game was revived in 2017.
The win snaps a 4-game losing streak in the series for Baylor and hands the Bears their 27th victory over the Longhorns 109 tries.