Last week, Texas took advantage of a number of Texas A&M mistakes to pull out a second-half win. Saturday, the script was flipped, as the Longhorns turned the ball over six times, leading to a 24-point Baylor blitz that added separation to a close game.
"It's real frustrating," said Texas coach Mack Brown. "You're not going to win football games when you turn the ball over [six] times; anywhere, anyhow."
When those turnovers were added to an explosive Baylor offensive performance that included four touchdowns by Heisman candidate Robert Griffin III — two passing, two rushing — it created a vicious cocktail that the Longhorns weren't able to overcome.
To Texas's credit, the game looked as if it would get out of hand early. The Longhorns were college football's only team not to give up a touchdown pass of 20-or-more yards this season, a string that was ended on the game's second play, when Kendall Wright beat the coverage deep and Griffin found him for a 59-yard score. Six minutes later, the Bears were on the scoreboard again, thanks to a Terrance Ganaway 20-yard run.
But for the second consecutive week, the Longhorns overcame an early blitz. Blaine Irby hauled in a one-handed catch in the back of the end zone near the end of the first quarter, and then McCoy caught fire. He hit Jaxon Shipley on a 78-yard pass that set up a three-yard touchdown from McCoy to Luke Poehlmann. And on the Longhorns' next possession, he connected with Marquise Goodwin for an 80-yard score and a 21-14 lead.
The Bears were able to take the lead heading into halftime, thanks to a 22-yard field goal by Aaron Jones and a Griffin two-yard run. Texas then tied the game back up shortly after halftime on a 39-yarder from Justin Tucker.
And that's when Baylor began its run. The Bears rolled downfield, covering 75 yards in six plays and ending with a Ganaway one-yard touchdown run. And when McCoy's third-and-12 pass was picked off by Sam Holl and returned to the Texas 11, the Longhorns were in trouble. Two plays later, Griffin burst in from 10-yards out, his third touchdown of the game. Another McCoy interception set up a Jones 40-yard field goal.
"We can't turn the ball over, and that's what we did," McCoy said. "That's just a part of the game and something that we can't do. "
Now down 17, Texas didn't quit, and the Longhorns drove the ball down inside the Baylor 10. But on a third-and-two, Cody Johnson was stripped by Joe Williams and Ahmad Dixon recovered the fumble. That's when Griffin led a surgical touchdown drive, capped with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Williams.
"I don't think we played well on defense," Brown said. "We gave up some big plays, which is something we haven't been doing. We haven't forced enough turnovers this year. We forced the one in the endzone, but we didn't force them off the field, and that's something you have to do against this bunch."
Griffin finished 15-for-22 for 320 yards passing and two touchdowns to one interception. He also rushed for two touchdowns. Ganaway had 23 carries for 152 yards and two touchdowns, and Kendall Wright had six catches for 166 yards and a score.?
McCoy was able to move the ball, passing for 356 yards and three touchdowns, but was undone by four interceptions. And the Longhorns ran the ball even without Malcolm Brown or Joe Bergeron, topping the 200-yard mark. Goodwin (5-129-1) and Shipley (4-121) each topped the 100-yard mark.
"The passing game grew up tonight," Brown said. "You can see what the Boise State, Bryan Harsin, offense is going to be like if you combine the passing tonight, take away the turnovers and run like we did at midseason. We'll have a chance to be really good, and that's what we've got to do."
But Texas just couldn't overcome the six turnovers, nor the fact that Baylor averaged a whopping 8.5 yards per play on offense. And so the Bears (9-3 overall, 6-3 Big 12) won nine games for the first time in 25 years , while Texas fell to 7-5 and 4-5.
"Obviously, we moved the ball better tonight than we have been, but we turned the ball over [six] times," Brown said. "We can't do that. Our [six] turnovers led to 27 points for them, which got us out of the ballgame."
BAYLOR — Kendall Wright 59 pass from Robert Griffin III (Aaron Jones kick), 14:38 1Q
BAYLOR — Terrance Ganaway 20 run (Jones kick), 8:03 1Q
TEXAS — Blaine Irby 2 pass from Case McCoy (Justin Tucker kick), 0:33 1Q
TEXAS — Luke Poehlmann 3 pass from McCoy (Tucker kick), 10:53 2Q
TEXAS — Marquise Goodwin 80 pass from McCoy (Tucker kick), 7:40 2Q
BAYLOR — Jones 22 FG, 4:39 2Q
BAYLOR — Griffin 2 run (Jones kick), 0:50 2Q
TEXAS — Tucker 39 FG, 13:04 3Q
BAYLOR — Ganaway 1 run (Jones kick), 11:34 3Q
BAYLOR — Griffin 10 run (Jones kick), 7:21 3Q
BAYLOR — Jones 40 FG, 1:18 3Q
BAYLOR — Terrance Williams 39 pass from Griffin (Jones kick), 7:43 4Q