INSIDE SLANTThat Baylor bandwagon is getting pretty crowded these days.
Many more hopped on board after the Bears went to Austin and stunned the Texas Longhorns 30-22 before 100,452 fans Saturday. It was one of the greatest and most significant wins in Baylor's history, because of several factors.
a) Texas coach Mack Brown had been 12-0 against Baylor.
b) The victory guarantees the Bears of having their first winning season since they were 7-4 in 1995.
c) For the first time since 1991, Baylor beat the Longhorns in Austin.
d) The 25th-ranked Bears prevailed despite trailing 19-10 in the third quarter, and despite not having one of their best offensive performances.
For most of this season, the Bears have been telling folks how good they are and how drastically they have improved. Now they have a signature win against a prominent program to back up all that talk.
"I am really proud of our football team, our players, our staff, our fans because it has been a while since we have given any proof to believe, and people have really taken to it and supported in a tremendous fashion," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "As a part of the football team, hats off to the people who are supporting us.
"And to our players, I think they are a resilient bunch and have great leadership in general and great senior leadership. And the guys always believe something good is going to happen."
Jay Finley made sure something good happened to Baylor when he sprinted 69 yards to get the Bears within 19-17 in the third quarter. Then, a 1-yard sneak by quarterback Robert Griffin early in the fourth period put the Bears ahead for good at 23-19.
Kendall Wright's 30-yard touchdown reception from Griffin widened the Baylor lead to 30-19 with 8:38 remaining in the game. Then the Baylor defense took over and snuffed out any ideas the Longhorns had of staging a comeback.
"I don't think there was any player in the locker room that had any doubt that we were going to win this game," safety Byron Landor said. "We knew it was going to be a tough place to win, and we knew that we weren't going to get some of the calls that we would get at home.
"We just knew it was going to be a fight. We just stuck together, and there was a lot of love in the locker room."
Finley rushed for 116 yards on 15 carries and helped the Bears hold it together while they were outgained in total yards, 428 to 328.
"We got down early in the game, but we never died and never quit," Griffin said. "Offensively, we weren't great, but we were good enough when it mattered.
"When we were good, we put points on the board. We knew we just needed an opportunity."
The Bears are 7-2 overall and continue to be in sole possession of first place in the Big 12 South with a 4-1 record.
Just to show how talented the Bears are, Baylor won when Griffin had an off day. Griffin completed just 16 of 24 passes for 219 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, and he was sacked three times by the Longhorns, who dropped to 4-4 overall and 2-3 in conference play.
"I just wasn't on," Griffin said. "On the drives that we put up points, I was on enough to help us."
Make no mistake about it, this was an extremely meaningful victory for the Bears. It could even sway a few recruits to take a second and third look at Baylor.
"I think the thing that I am excited about is that we have seven wins on the board and we are in the middle of the Big 12 South," Briles said. "I am not looking at the rank from 15 years ago, because that does not affect our players.
"Our players came in here with the notion that we were going to play hard for 60 minutes and get out of here with a win, and that is all that we were concerned with."
NOTES, QUOTES--With two touchdown passes against Texas, quarterback Robert Griffin now owns Baylor's career record for touchdown passes with 39. The old record of 38 was held by Shawn Bell. With 2,993 yards, Griffin also set Baylor's single-season total offensive yardage record during the win over Texas.
--Baylor has scored 30 or more points in eight of its nine games this season, including the last five. The only time the Bears didn't score 30 points was during the 45-10 loss to TCU on Sept. 18.
--Derek Epperson had four punts for an average of 56.8 yards on Saturday. A 6-foot-4, 240-pound senior, he has 48 career punts of 50 or more yards.
--This was Baylor's first win over Texas since the Bears won 23-21 in Waco in 1997, when John Mackovic was the Texas coach.
--The four conference wins are the most in a season by the Bears in the Big 12 era. Their previous best was three Big 12 wins in 2006.
--The Bears had their streak of gaining at least 500 total yards snapped at four games.
GAME BALL GOES TO: TB Jay Finley -- He gained 116 yards in 15 carries and scored on a 69-yard scamper. In the last three games -- against Colorado, Kansas State and Texas -- Finley has rushed 55 times for 509 yards and four touchdowns while averaging a whopping 9.3 yards per carry.
KEEP AN EYE ON: S Byron Landor -- He is steadily becoming one of the better and more efficient safeties in the Big 12. He has a game-high 15 tackles -- nine solo -- and two breakups in the win over Texas.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It is a whole different mind-set. Without a doubt, our guys have some proof to believe. That to me is first and foremost." -- Baylor coach Art Briles.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNELLOOKING GOOD: Baylor's defense should be commended for its stellar play against Texas, especially near the goal line. The Longhorns reached the Baylor 4-, 9-, 14-, 23- and 32-yard lines but had to settle for five field goals.
STILL NEEDS WORK: The Bears' offensive line had a rare bad game. They allowed QB Robert Griffin to be sacked three times. Baylor also rushed 38 times for 160 yards, but its net rushing yards were only 109 yards, because the Bears suffered 51 yards in tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
ROSTER REPORT:--LB Elliot Coffey missed the Texas game and may miss another one with a high ankle sprain he suffered two weeks ago against Kansas State.
--CB Chance Casey missed the Texas game with an injured left leg he suffered two games ago against Kansas State.
--DL Terrance Lloyd (knee) has been sidelined for the last five games.