Dusty Mangum's Baylor Game Turning Point

turning point - n. The point at which a very significant change occurs; a decisive moment.

On Saturday, the Longhorns again showed why they belong at the top of the polls. They overwhelmed the improved Bears (a team that took both A&M and Oklahoma to overtime) to stay on track for a repeat trip to Pasadena.

Because of the enormity of the blowout, there wasn't really a traditional turning point per se, but the Horns' ability to run the ball almost at will with rotating tailbacks Ramonce Taylor and Jamaal Charles gave Baylor no hope. And it started early.

On its opening possession, Texas went to the air five times and rushed the ball just three times on a drive that stalled out just past midfield. From that point on, some of the biggest plays of the day came through the air, but the bread and butter came via the running game, which completely wore down and demoralized a decent Bear D. And the rout was on.

The Longhorns racked up 347 rushing yards. In his first tailback start, Taylor totaled 102 rushing yards and four TDs (three on the ground), with Charles (72 yards and two TDs), Henry Melton (62 yards and one TD) and Vince Young (53 yards) not far behind.

But the ground game was not the only place that Texas excelled. The rushing success opened up the passing attack. With a miraculous catch from Limas Sweed (a one-handed 46-yarder that set up the Horns for their first TD) and several other pin point accurate passes from Vince Young (the bullet to Quan Cosby down the right sideline for a TD was a thing of beauty), the Longhorns not only stampeded their way through the Bears, but passed over and around them as well. Vince Young finished the day 16 of 27 for 298 yards with two TDs and no INTs. (Yes, this is the same Vince Young that so many pundits and opposing fans think "can't pass.")

The defense was back to its usual form, containing the Baylor offense after last week's first half struggles versus the Cowboys. Gene gang fought hard the entire game trying to protect the goose egg for Baylor. They did in a Texas-like fashion, holding the Bears to only 201 total yards while Michael Huff and Michael Griffin teamed up for two interceptions on the day.

And Texas’ special teams were once again special as Baylor could not amass any type of effort to fight back the Longhorns. The punt return team looked on cue allowing Aaron Ross to gain 67 yards on four returns (improving his average to 15.1 yards per return for the season). Greg Johnson led the kickoff team again to a nice showing hitting three touchbacks.

All in all, the Longhorns are on track, and for Orangebloods, things are getting more exciting every day. The next test will be against the Jayhawks from Kansas. We all know what happened last year, but I believe the only 4th and 18 plays will be with their offense on the field, not ours. Hook Em and till next week, the Eyes of Texas Are Upon You….

Dusty Mangum played for Texas from 2001-2004 and holds several Longhorn kicking marks. His final kick in the Orange and White, a 37-yarder in the 2005 Rose Bowl, provided the ultimate turning point in the Horns' first-ever BCS win. His Turning Point column appears on Monday after each game during football season here on InsideTexas.com.

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