Dec. 7, 2013: The Longhorns traveled to Waco to face the Baylor Bears in the final game at Floyd Casey Stadium. At halftime, Texas was tied with the Bears at three and knew that a win would secure its first Big 12 Championship since 2009.
Baylor outscored the Longhorns 27-7 in the second half and won the Big 12 for the first time in program history.
“It still haunts us,” senior defensive end Cedric Reed said. “You know that we were 30 minutes away from winning the Big 12 Championship.”
Despite all the struggles the program had endured since 2010, a conference crown last season would’ve been a surprising twist to a disappointing 2013 campaign.
“That was the game that kept us from a Big 12 Championship,” redshirt senior linebacker Jordan Hicks said. “Everybody understands that. Everybody knew the circumstances we were in, and we weren’t able to go out there and do it.”
The three points the Longhorn defense allowed in the first half tied Baylor’s season-low for points scored before halftime. The Bears averaged 52.4 points per game last season.
“Anytime you hold a team to three points with a high-flying offense like them, that’s always a good job,” senior cornerback Quandre Diggs said. “We didn’t come out and finish in the second half, and that’s just what it is. Those guys came out and played their game in the second half, and we didn’t.”
The Texas defense surrendered its longest drive of the game against Baylor to open up the second half, when the Bears marched 77 yards down the field on 14 plays and scored a
touchdown to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“We played good the first half,” Hicks said. “The second half, we didn’t come out ready to go.”
The Bears scored a touchdown and a field goal on their following drives, and Texas found itself in an unrecoverable 17-point hole. Texas players know they missed an opportunity to be champions last year but also know they have an opportunity to make up for it this weekend.
“You always remember stuff like that,” senior safety Mykkele Thompson said. “It never goes away, but we are just trying to move on and make it a different way this year.”
The Longhorns avoided giving up many long plays to a Bears’ offense that is predicated on making big plays and scoring points on quick drives.
“One of our things is not to give up big plays, but big plays are gonna happen,” Reed said. “It’s the way you react afterwards.”
Texas enters having played one of the conference’s more difficult schedules but has only surrendered 39 plays of 10 yards or more this season. Baylor, however, has produced 87 plays of 10-plus yards from scrimmage this season, a number the Longhorns need to limit to give their offense a chance.
“They are a big play team. They want to get the ball out,” Reed said. “That’s what they do; they look for chunk yardage, man.”
Texas players aren’t entirely sure how this one will play out, but they know they will have their hands full against the nation’s highest scoring offense, which scores 56.8 points
“Teams like this, they’re set up to score points, and we just have to keep them one less than what we score,” Thompson said.