"I've tried to treat this like every other game with a businesslike attitude," Simms said. "I just do what I have to do, and if something jumps out at me (such as one-on-one defensive match-ups and/or soft coverage against SE Roy Williams) I try to take advantage of it."
And so it is keeping with the spirit of the team's businesslike approach that we have (until now) deferred from asking: Have you hugged an Aggie today?
The 9-1 Horns (5-1 in Big 12 play) now have a half-game lead over the Sooners (8-1, 4-1) in the Big 12 standings thanks to Texas A&M's huge upset win against the Evil Empire at Kyle Field. And if Purdue could have only held on against Ohio State, then…then…then this is precisely the kind of office chatter that players and coaches dodged coming into the Baylor game.
For the past month, Simms has consistently submitted the kind of performances that folks expected of him since he took his first snap as a freshman. The senior was 18-of-23 for 254 yards, including three touchdowns and one interception vs. the Bears.
"Chris has played well all season," offensive coordinator Greg Davis said, "but he played well today because he played well Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. He studied and stayed focused."
Freshman RB Selvin Young sparked the running game by contributing 98 yards on 14 totes (7.0 pre carry). It's been either feast or famine this season for sophomore RB Cedric Benson, who netted a blue-collar 64 yards on 22 attempts (2.9 yards and a cloud of dust) plus a 10-yard touchdown run.
No running back controversy here. Good teams are more likely to run the ball better in the fourth quarter, head coach Mack Brown said. Meanwhile, QB Chance Mock played the entire final 15 minutes, was
2-of-2 passing for 16 yards and engineered a 62-yard touchdown drive.
"The offense is back on track," Brown said, after his squad tallied 450 net yards. Still, Brown labeled the week a "scary" one considering it followed a series of emotional wins along with Baylor coach Kevin Steele's lame-duck status and with some Baylor players actually predicting the team would honor their coach with an upset win.
"Chris Simms has never been better," Brown added. "He looked great, but the guys were all focused and ready to play."
Meanwhile, the Longhorn defense has now posted three shutouts in a single season for the first time since 1983. That's doubly-sweet for coordinator Carl Reese since DT Marcus Tubbs and DE Kalen Thornton spent this game in street clothes. Baylor was held to 41 yards rushing on 27 attempts and 86 yards through the air.
"Some of the guys in the back-up roles finally had the opportunity to show what they could do, and they did it," Reese said. "I'm really proud of them."
FS Kendal Briles returned to action after severely injuring his ankle in August two-a-days and turned in two interceptions. (How deep is this secondary? Consider that Briles had won the starting nod and was replaced by junior FS Dakarai Pearson whose four interceptions lead the team this season.)
The Texas defense was so dominant that P Brian Bradford did not take a snap from center until 4:01 remaining in the third quarter (although Mangum provided a pooch kick in the first quarter).
The Longhorns could have scored 100 in this one if they needed to (Mock took a knee on the Baylor 15-yard line to end the game) but played nearly everybody on both sides.
"I hate that Kevin is not going to be the coach next year at Baylor," Brown said, "but it was important for us to win the game and also be respectful because he's in a very difficult situation. At the end of the game, we weren't sure whether to throw Chance more or run it. But we felt Chance has plenty of opportunities, but Kevin does not."
With the victory, Texas has now posted five-consecutive nine-win seasons for the first time in school history.
"The kids have accomplished a lot of things they wanted to (with the win) today," Brown said, "and still kept themselves in the mix for a lot of good things in the next month or so."
Oddly enough, Texas A&M's 30-26 upset of Oklahoma now means Texas Tech (7-4, 4-2) controls its own destiny in the Big 12 race. ABC will televise Texas' contest against the Red Raiders with kick-off set for 2:30 p.m. in Lubbock.
Brown said the team suffered no serious injuries against Baylor.