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Baylor vs. Texas -- The Morning After -- Highlights, Links, Notes, Tweets

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Baylor's furious comeback fell just short yesterday against the Texas Longhorns, and the Bears finished the regular season 9-3.

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH F
TEXAS(5-7, 4-5) 17 3 0 3 23
BAYLOR (9-3, 6-3) 0 0 10 7 17

Box ScoreQuotesNotesPhoto Gallery USATSI Photo Gallery

Waco, Texas - Attendance: 48,093

Post-Game Coverage from ODB:

Frantic QB-less Comeback Falls Short in 23-17 Loss to Texas
Baylor WR Corey Coleman confirms he is going pro

The Big News:

We lost.  At home.  And we won't be going to the Sugar Bowl as the Big 12 representative, after all.  Instead, we're likely (but not officially, at least not yet) headed to the Russell Athletic Bowl to play UNC or another ACC team.

Through a broken play on UT's first drive and turnovers in our own end, Baylor basically spotted Texas 17 points in the first quarter, putting ourselves in a hole that would otherwise have been manageable had we not lost our third QB starting QB of the season to injury shortly thereafter.  Down 17-0, Baylor had to turn to emergency QB Lynx Hawthorne, who hadn't played the position since his senior year at Refugio HS.  Hawthorne responded by throwing 2 interceptions before he threw a single complete pass, although I can't really blame him for either one considering the circumstances.

Things got significantly better after halftime, when Baylor transitioned to a "WildBear" offense using primarily direct snaps to running backs Johnny Jefferson (23 carries for 158 yards), Devin Chafin (6 carries for 38 yards), and Terence Williams (11 carries for 44 yards).  With that offense, Baylor ended up scoring 17 points in a row of our own and looked poised to take the lead at 24-23 until another turnover, our fourth in the game, put the final nail in our offensive coffin.

As I said in the post-game yesterday, I was actually extremely impressed with the way the team and coaching staff responded at halftime down 20-0.  At that point, without a true QB we could trust, the team could have resigned itself to an ignominious fate and just played out the string.  Instead, the coaching staff revamped the offense completely and staged what would have been, under the circumstances, one of the great comebacks of the season.  Ultimately, it fell short due to turnovers and the fact that the offense just took too long to run, but it was still extremely impressive to even put together, in the first place.

CFB Playoff:

Is decided.  We just don't know officially who will play whom and where, although we're going to find out in just a few minutes while I write this post.

My guess for the way the four teams will shake out:

  1. Clemson Tigers
  2. Alabama Crimson Tide
  3. Michigan State Spartans
  4. Oklahoma Sooners

Putting Oklahoma fourth avoids a first-round matchup between Alabama and Oklahoma and keeps the Sooners out of Dallas, where the Committee probably thinks they'll have an advantage due to proximity.  The Sooners would draw Clemson in these rankings, while Alabama would play Michigan State.

BTW, this was just confirmed.

Thoughts on the Game:

  1. Credit to Texas for coming out and punching Baylor in the mouth (figuratively, of course) from the beginning of the game.  They were 21-point underdogs that didn't believe they should be, and they played like it.  Even though they had nothing to play for but pride, they dominated the first quarter and put us in a hole we ultimately couldn't climb out of.  Charlie Strong and company deserve a lot of respect for that, particularly since they were dealing with significant injury issues of their own.
  2. I didn't notice it at the time, but when Baylor made its comeback in the second half, we did it with 3 of our starting offensive lineman either not playing or playing different positions.  Pat Colbert, our normal starting RT, missed most of yesterday's game, prompting Blake Muir, our normal LG, to move outside.  In Muir's place was redshirt freshman Blake Blackmar.  Normal starting RG Jarell Broxton also missed time, to be replaced by last year's starter Desmine Hilliard.  That means that in crunch time of the game, the line was (L-R): Spencer Drango, Blackmar, Kyle Fuller, Hilliard, and Muir.  Considering the circumstances, where there was little question about how we had to move the ball, it might have been the most impressive performance of the season.
  3. Zack Bennema came up several times in the game threads and post-game discussion when people questioned why he didn't play in place of Lynx Hawthorne.  There's two reasons for that, and neither of them has to do with scholarships (which, despite popular belief, he wouldn't have to get if he played): 1) Bennema redshirted this season, and the coaches didn't want to pull that redshirt (or the redshirt of fellow freshman Blake Lynch) for one half of one game, and 2) Bennema runs the scout team offense, not our actual offense, in practice.  You might be able to get him to play if you had a long enough time, but not right away in the middle of one game.
  4. As I said after the game, I thought the defense played fantastically well after the first drive where Ryan Reid inexplicable lost Caleb Bluiett.  The second Texas TD came on a short field after a turnover inside our own 20 in a drive in which the Longhorns got bailed out by a bad personal foul call on Beau Blackshear.  That's not the defense's fault.  And other than those two drives, the defense held Texas to 3 field goals on 11 drives, 5 of which were 4 plays or less.
  5. I hate to draw conclusions about Chris Johnson from the TCU game and yesterday, so I won't do it.  But I do think it's extremely interesting that the coaching staff apparently had more faith in Johnson coming off the bench in the Oklahoma State game than in either game since when he's had full weeks to prepare.  Even before Johnson went out, Baylor looked tentative on offense where we are normally hyper-aggressive, and I don't know why that is.  You can't blame the injury on it, of course, but that tentativeness impacted the early results of the game directly, when Texas built up their lead.  It was weird to watch.
  6. There's really no way you can argue that finishing 9-3 and out of the NY6 bowls in a season in which you started 8-0 and were viewed as one of the best teams in the country at one point, isn't a disappointment.  There's no way to argue that losing 3 of 4, with 2 of those losses coming at home, isn't a disappointment.  That being said, if you told me it would happen, I'd say that injuries had to be a major factor.  Obviously, they were.  That sucks, but there's nothing we can do about it now.

Even with our ramshackle direct-snap offense, I thought Baylor would win this game 24-23 until Johnny Jefferson's fumble on fourth down.  Time was seriously an issue at that point, and needing a TD complicated things considerably, but I felt really good about how our offensive line had played the second half and the push they were getting on the UT DL.  Alas, it was not to be.  But it still really fun to watch, particularly since it's not something we normally see.

Maybe we should, though.  Who else thinks the direct snap offense might be a pretty good idea when we decide to work clock late in games?

LINKS LINKS LINKS LINKS LINKS LINKS:

No. 12 Football Falls to Texas, 23-17 - Baylor Official Athletic Site
The Bears are out of contention for a Sugar Bowl bid after a 23-17 loss to Texas on Saturday, a picture-perfect day in their riverside stadium marred by their third loss in four games and a bench-clearing scuffle in the first quarter.

Texas-Baylor game interrupted by massive bench-clearing scuffle | For The Win
The Baylor Bears endured a miserable first quarter against Texas Saturday, losing third-string quarterback Chris Johnson to injury as the Longhorns jumped out to a 17-0 lead.

Texas vs. Baylor - Game Recap - December 5, 2015 - ESPN
Get a recap of the Texas Longhorns vs. Baylor Bears football game.

Baylor basically had to play without a QB against Texas ... and still almost won - SBNation.com
Both teams had injuries, including Texas' starting quarterback. But the Bears were essentially all out of QBs.

Texas knocks No. 12 Baylor out of Sugar Bowl with upset
Tyrone Swoopes threw for 151 yards with a touchdown and ran for a score.

Brice Cherry: In 2015, Baylor’s adversity was just too much to overcome - WacoTrib.com: Baylor Bears Football
In many ways, the 2015 Baylor Bears had everything going for them. They owned loads of strength, speed and talent dotted up and down the roster.

Baylor notebook: Coleman leaving for NFL; opening drive streak ends; Briles reacts to bench brawl - WacoTrib.com: Baylor Bears Football
When Corey Coleman was announced as part of Senior Day festivities Saturday at McLane Stadium, he all but let everybody know he was going to the NFL after this season.

TWEETS TWEETS TWEETS TWEETS TWEETS TWEETS:

One of the worst things about losing is that I don't get to do my typical "Tweets of the Day/Night" post, which is actually one of the more fun things to do.  Yesterday's would have been particularly good with the reaction to our WildBear offense:

Very strong tweet. Incredibly strong.

#SicEm. And have a good Sunday, everybody!