In a game where Baylor needed a near flawless performance to pull off the upset, missed tackles, dropped catches, an impotent running attack, and complacent playcalling all but guaranteed a 1-3 start to the season.
The first quarter began with a reliably...uninspiring drive by Baylor. Back-to-back sacks leading to a three-and-out gave good field position to Texas. Fortunately the defense came to play, and after giving up a long third down conversion, they forced a punt from the Baylor 42.
The second offensive drive was a little better than the first, but a third sack killed any chance of a sustained possession. With another short field, Texas needed only two plays to score — a 40 yard touchdown run by Jonathon Brooks courtesy of a missed tackle by Mike Smith Jr.
Probably all the points they’ll need, sadly.— ODB (@OurDailyBears) September 24, 2023
To their credit, the Baylor offense responded well down 7-0. A decent, nine-play, 70-yard drive, aided by a 39 yard bomb to Ketron Jackson, ended with a 22 yard field goal by Isaiah Hankins.
Momentum looked to be on Baylor’s side as we moved into the second quarter. Gabe Hall batted away Ewers’ first incomplete pass, forcing a Texas punt, and a 23 yard reception by Monaray Baldwin put Baylor near midfield. That’s about as good as it got for the rest of the evening. A run for loss, pass into the turf, and false start ended drive number four.
Texas’ next possession was a microcosm for all of the defensive frustrations in the game. Mike Smith Jr. gets a sack, and Adonai Mitchell gets it all back in one reception. Jeremy Evans misses a pick-six by an inch, and Quinn Ewers has a career-long 29 yard rush for a touchdown. Texas would score two more rushing touchdowns in a 21-point second quarter.
Quinn Ewers shows off the wheels! Texas is up 14-3 on Baylor after the 29-yard TD run. pic.twitter.com/A4rExRKDrq— Hook'em Headlines (@HookemHeadlines) September 24, 2023
In the final nine minutes of the half, Baylor could only muster two first downs across five drives. They picked up five yards and a field goal following a muffed punt at the 21 by Xavier Worthy. Garrison Grimes, Baylor’s long snapper, made the recovery.
For the entire first half, Sawyer Robertson was 13 of 24 for 110 yards. As a team we had eleven rushing yards, though that includes negative yardage from three sacks. Texas averaged 6.3 yards per rush.
The second half began as a continuation of the first. Ewers connected with Sanders on a 49 yard catch and run on the second play as multiple Baylor defenders struggled to bring the big tight end down. Two short runs and an incomplete pass out the back of the endzone set up a Texas field goal. 31-6.
Baylor’s offense came out with a spark of life, but they couldn’t capitalize on a 55 yard reception to Monaray Baldwin taken inside the ten yard line. The next four plays: run for no gain, run for no gain, pass thrown away, and interception.
The Baylor offense has now run 11 plays inside the Texas 20 tonight.— Eric Kelly (@EricKellyTV) September 24, 2023
On those 11 plays, the Bears have gained 14 total yards.
On the subsequent possession, Texas converted on a third and fifteen from the Texas 16 with a 51 yard pass to Johntay Cook II. A couple plays later, Worthy registered the only receiving touchdown of the game off a 21 yard slant.
The end of the third quarter was deja vu for anyone who watched the end of the second half. Baylor had a lackluster drive again, Palmer Williams nailed a great punt again, Texas fumbled the punt again, and long snapper Garrison Grimes recovered it again. What happened next? Run for almost no gain, run for almost no gain, sack, sack.
In the fourth quarter, Texas continued doing what they did for the first three quarters, alternating between efficient runs and big passes. The drive ended with a respectable goal line stand from Baylor’s defense, and Bert Auburn hit the uprights on his second field goal attempt of the game.
At 9:28 left, we put in RJ Martinez at QB, effectively waiving the white flag (no offense, RJ). Mercifully, Texas did the same. There would be no Miracle on the Brazos. No goal posts carried to the Bill Daniel Student Center. The only worms to be found were buried deep in the ground. Final score: 38-6.
Entering tonight, Texas had only three rushing touchdowns. Now they have seven. They had one of the least efficient offenses in the country (explosive, but inefficient). A 51% success rate will certainly change that. 8.53 yards per play is better than 96% of performances in FBS vs. FBS games. The only positive for the defense was holding Texas to a 33% success rate on third down.
Offensively, Baylor was abysmal. Their -0.23 expected points added per play is in the bottom 13th percentile of FBS performances. 60 rushing yards on 31 carries compares favorably only to Rice. We had more rushes stopped for two or fewer yards than rushes that gained four yards (and for some reason kept calling running plays while inside the redzone!). Despite any semblance of a run game to help him out, Sawyer Robertson managed to put together a respectable performance. 20 of 35 for 203 while spending most of the game running for his life...he’s good enough to win some games. Just not this one.
Statistics courtesy of gameonpaper.com and ESPN.