Shouts such as "Come on! This is Baylor!" could be heard in the stands as the Bears took a surprising 10-0 lead. This may indeed be Baylor, but this isn't the Baylor that Texas fans are used to. This is a well coached, determined football team. This is your daddy's Baylor, the team that used to annually challenge for the Southwest Conference crown.
But in the end, the Bears just didn't have the skill, talent or athletes to hang with the Longhorns as fatigue set in and Texas was able to outmuscle and outrun their opponent. However, this team is heading in the right direction and may be a thorn in Texas' side as they begin to gather up the recruits that traditional powers Texas A&M and Oklahoma are losing. It's truly impressive what this team has been able to do under fourth year head coach Guy Morrisssssss.
Regardless, Texas came out with a solid victory and really turned the tide at the right moment. The game was a national broadcast on TBS, meaning any of the AP and Harris interactive voters who wanted to see the game could see it if they wished. Most, I imagine, did not intend to watch the game because they'd rather see a battle between SEC powerhouses Florida and Auburn, but that may have changed in the second quarter. If you look on the bottom line showing score updates and you see: Baylor 7 Texas 0 1st QTR, your interest is mildly piqued, but only mildly, because it just means Baylor managed to score first, but Texas is still getting ready to roll their neighbors to the north. My interest was mildly piqued when Rice tied Florida State 7-7 earlier in the year, before the Seminoles steamrolled the hapless Owls 55-7. But when the bottom line reads: Baylor 10 Texas 0 2nd QTR, now you're interested. Now you want to see, as comedian Eddie Izzard put it, what all the kaffufle is about.
That's when the TVs started turning to the Texas game and that's when the Longhorns stepped up, forcing three turnovers in the second quarter. As a result, Texas is still very respected in the human polls, being ranked fifth in all three (AP, Coaches', Harris Interactive), the highest ranked one-loss team in the country. Of course, even though Texas' performance in the final three quarters was impressive, there are still a lot of areas that need work. The most obvious of which is the secondary.
Apparently, Tarell Brown is the most important player on the entire Texas football team because every time he doesn't play, the Longhorn secondary gets smoked. When Brown is out, his assignment has to be taken by the No. 3 back (Ken Beasley) and the No. 3 guy's has to be taken by the No. 4 guy (Brandon Foster) and so on and so forth down the line. This wouldn't be a problem if depth in the secondary wasn't a problem, but unfortunately it's the biggest issue this defense faces and they need ever player possible to truly be effective. Baylor spent much of the game attacking Beasley. The true freshman performed well for a first start, but he's still got a long way to go before he can be a capable starter.
The Longhorns now have to go on the road to Nebraska and Texas Tech, two spread offenses which are exceptionally effective at exposing holes in the secondary. I'm still predicting a Texas win in each game because Nebraska is still a few years away from having the personnel to effectively run the spread and, let's face it, Baylor is running the Texas Tech offense better than Texas Tech this year. Nevertheless, this will be a tough pair of road games that Texas must be vigilant during if its going to keep Big 12 and slim national title hopes alive.
For the conference crown, the path is clear: Win all your games and you're there. In fact, given the relative weakness of the conference, the Horns may not even have to do that. As Colorado proved against Texas Tech this past Saturday, there is very little separation between the top and bottom of the conference and it seems very possible that Texas could lose a game and still find itself in Kansas City for the Big 12 title game.
The national title picture is much less clear. Texas is ninth in the initial BCS rankings, which is within striking distance of the top two spots. The LSU Tigers were 12th in the first BCS rankings of the year when they won the championship after the 2003 season and the human polls were not friendly nearly as friendly to the Tigers as they are to Texas this year. The Horns are 5th in the Coaches and the Harris interactive and their computer rankings should continue rise. Texas' first six opponents have a collective record of 25-21, while the remaining five opponents are 23-10. But, the Horns going to need a lot of losses from the teams above.
A loss from both West Virginia and Louisville is requisite. They'll help out with that by playing each other, as will most of the teams in front of Texas. Given the fact that six of the top eight teams in the BCS play each other, there are three guaranteed losses and more are sure to come. As long as Texas doesn't have another come its way, the national championship is a very real possibility.