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Texas Stuns #8 Baylor in 35-34 win.

Mike Roach

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AUSTIN – The unofficial slogan of the Big 12 is “Bet the Over”, and it looked to be prophetic in the first six minutes of the Texas-Baylor game.  The Bears took the ball first and struck first with a Seth Russell 50-yard touchdown run.  Texas came back with a big dose of Foreman on their opening drive.  D’Onta pounded the Baylor defense for 35 yards, and Shane Buechele found Armanti Foreman for a 40 yard touchdown pass.  Texas forced a turnover on the following drive when Kris Boyd’s deflection landed in the hands of PJ Locke.  The Longhorns capitalized on the next play with D’Onta Foreman’s 37-yard touchdown run on the next play.  The shootout continued with a 5 play, 75 yard drive by Baylor culminating in a 20 yard touchdown pass to Ishmael Zamora. 


The burgeoning shootout took a bizarre turn in which both defenses stood tall in four straight drives.  What looked like a track meet turned into a 14-14 game at the end of the first.  D’Onta Foreman extended his 100-yard game streak to 9 straight with a 1 yard carry late in the first quarter.  Texas appeared to be on their way to breaking the scoreless drought when Shane Buechele connected with Armanti Foreman for a big pass play in the second quarter, but Baylor defensive back Jameson Houston caught him from behind and stripped the ball.  Baylor recovered on their own 2-yard line, but a holding call in the end zone gave Texas a safety and the ball back with a 16-14 lead.  The Longhorns followed that up with a 6 play, 66 yard drive ending with a 9 yard D’Onta Foreman touchdown.  Baylor was able to put together a 13 play, 81 yard drive late in the half highlighted by bad clock management on both sides.  The Bears found themselves without timeouts late in the half when Charlie Strong had to call a timeout with 13 seconds left.  Baylor scored on the next play when Seth Russell found KD Cannon with a 15 yard pass, and a nearly 2 hour first half mercifully came to a close. 


The Foreman family accounted for 232 yards and 3 touchdowns in the first half.  D’Onta Foreman carried 17 times for 128 yards, and his brother Armanti tallied 3 catches for 104 yards and a touchdown.  A puzzling wrinkle for the Texas offense was the inclusion of Tyrone Swoopes as a running back.  The backup quarterback accounted for 11 yards on 5 carries, and nearly lost a fumble.  Shane Buechele wasn’t asked to do much as he completed 7 of 13 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown.  The much maligned Texas defense held up reasonably well against Baylor’s highly touted offense.  Malik Jefferson did not start this game due to recent ineffectiveness, but he played with more of a spark when he was put into the game on the second series.  John Bonney held up well in coverage as he ended the half leading the team in tackles with and credited with 2 pass break ups.


The Longhorns opened the half with a D’Onta Foreman 40 yard run  That carry gave Foreman 173 yards and put him over 1,000 yards for the season.  Foreman became the first Longhorn with 1,000 rushing yards since Jamaal Charles did it in 2007.  Texas chose to bring in the 18 wheeler following that big run, and the drive stalled.  Trent Domingue knocked in a 25 yard field goal to extend the Texas lead to 26-21.  Baylor responded with a physical drive spearheaded by the running of Terence Williams.  Williams accounted for 51 yards on two huge runs, and gave Baylor the lead after a two yard touchdown run.  Baylor attempted to end things several times, but the Bears bogged down in the red zone repeatedly and were forced to settle for two Chris Callahan field goals.  The turning point of the game came on a 61 yard pass from Shane Buechele to Lorenzo Joe.  Buechele finished off the drive 3 plays later with a 7 yard touchdown pass to Andrew Beck that cut the lead to two points after a failed conversion.  The Texas defense held Baylor to a punt on the following drive, with some tenacious play by Malik Jefferson.  The former five star recruit took his benching personally, and responded with 10 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 tackles for loss. Down by 2 late in the game the Foreman’s took over once again.  Armanti Foreman put Texas into positive territory with a 38 yard catch down the sideline.  Texas moved themselves into position, and Trent Domingue kicked the game winning field goal with 46 seconds remaining.  Domingue later told the media that this was his first game-winning kick at any level he’s played.  Baylor failed to mount any sort of serious comeback, and Texas shocked the #8 Bears 35-34. 


The big story following the match-up was the negativity surrounding the program.  Charlie Strong took an unusually combative stance at the podium in his post-game press conference.  “I have a really good team, and I have a special team, and I have a team that I really care about, and a team that really cares about me.  It’s not a program that’s in disarray, which many of you think.  It’s not a program that is going backwards.  It’s a program that’s headed forward, and it’s a program that is going to be special”, said Strong.  The Texas Head Coach made it clear that the noise wasn’t affecting him, but it was taking a toll on the players.  “The thing that happens is they read it because they’re young kids, and they’re social media people, and they’re going to get on everything from Snapchat to whatever, and it bothers them.  When you have players that come to you and apologize for dropping the football when I tell them you don’t have to apologize, no, Coach, because they’re putting all the pressure on you.  No, it’s no pressure on me, guys, I will be fine, don’t worry about me”.  Strong’s team has their share of let downs this season, but close losses to Oklahoma, Cal, and Kansas State have him believing this team is close to getting over the hump.  “We’re very close, and you know, we’ve got four left, and we just need to go play well in these next four and just continue to build on this game”.  “It’s so funny because everybody thinks within these walls, it’s crumbling”, Strong continued.  “If you’re coming within these walls you’ll never see a team so close and a team that knows what they have to do”.


Several players spoke on the subject of unity, and it was clear that they are hearing the talk surrounding their coach’s job.  “Each time we step out on the field or go into meetings, we grow a little bit closer.  It’s exciting to see that.  This is my third year, and it’s been different every year.  This year we’ve come together”.  PJ Locke told us that this team is trying to forge their own path.  “We try not to put too much focus on that.  We just worry about right now and create our own new story for the game”.  Freshman quarterback Shane Buechele had a “quiet” night as he threw for 291 yards and two touchdowns on 12/21 passing.  Buechele noted that they use the negativity as fuel.  “I think you fight against it, but you also kind of take it in as motivation.  You hear it and it’s hard not to hear it when you’re at the University of Texas.  I think you just take it in and use it as motivation.  You block it out.  But you also take it in and prove them wrong, you have to stick together as a team”.  Breckyn Hager often speaks from the heart, and he had no issues talking about the negativity effect.  “It’s gotten to me, especially.  I was like, listen, everybody’s talking badly about this defense, but we’re gonna be about that action, still showing what we’re really about.  We took a stand tonight, and I think we showed that against one of the best offenses in the nation”.  Hager expanded with some personal thoughts on his coach Charlie Strong.  “I take it very personally because I’m tired of it.  They’re not with him every day like I am, they don’t know what kind of man he is and like I said, we’re going to be about that action”.


The one trick Texas has not figured out this season is how to convert a big win into momentum on the road.  Texas will have another test next week when they travel to Lubbock to take on the high flying Red Raiders.  “We’re a young team as much as people don’t like to say that”, Hager said.  “We’re a young team, we’re learning how to win on the road, and we’re getting closer to that.  We’re going to work as hard as we can to achieve that this week”.  Thought it has been written many times, we will say it again.  If Charlie Strong hopes to save his job he simply must figure out a way to win on the road and finish this season strong.  Athletic Director Mike Perrin showed his support as he left the field chanting Charlie’s name along with the players, but the only thing that can save him is wins.  Texas gets their chance again next week in Lubbock to show us that they’ve learned from their failures.  Whatever the case may be, the team is united in support of their coach and each other.  Whether or not that leads to wins remains to be seen.  

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So many storylines heading into this matchup, but my biggest takeaway is that this didn't look like a team that had quit on this staff.


Also, I'm going to cherish each carry 33 takes for the rest of the season because he is looking like a special one. The kid brings it every single week and it doesn't matter what you throw him. He just keeps on coming.


And to Malik Jefferson... That's how you respond to being challenged. Put together one hell of a stat line and was robbed of a FF and touchdown at the end.

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The game was both exhilarating and infuriating.


The individual efforts from some of our guys was terrific. D Foreman is well on his way to becoming our greatest RB that history will forget because he played on crap teams. Give PK Domingue credit too. Honestly, how many of y'all were confident before that FG?


Our coaching just makes me SMH. The Charlie timeout to allow BU to regroup before the half was unreal. The bizarre timing and play calling of Gilbert's use of Swoopes, I just don't get.


Lastly, these games are too damn long. Not EVERY play requires a review. The Texans game today reached halftime after an hour-fifteen. I think UT was still in the first quarter at an hour yesterday.

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