There were plenty of broken hearts around Waco last week when Baylor’s quest for an undefeated season died in a record-breaking 25-point comeback win by Oklahoma.
But the 14th-ranked Bears will still have loads to play for when they host puzzling but surely dangerous Texas on Saturday afternoon in a key Big 12 battle.
Baylor built a 28-3 first-quarter lead against the Sooners but were shut out in the second half and lost 34-31 on a last-minute field goal.
The Bears (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) have been licking their collective wounds in the aftermath of the up-so-high-then-down-so-low loss, but coach Matt Rhule said Monday there were plenty of positives for his team, even in defeat.
“Our team learned a lot from that game,” Rhule said. “They learned, No. 1, what we can be — for the first half we looked like not just a top-10, but a top-five team in the country. Then, secondly, the second half showed us what we still have to do.”
The Bears are tied for first place in the Big 12 with two games remaining. They can clinch a spot — and a rematch against the Sooners — in the Big 12 title game on Dec. 7 by beating Texas or Kansas in their season finale.
“My attention and our guys’ attention when we got here yesterday is completely on Texas,” Rhule said. “It’s Senior Day for a very special group of young men that have really, really acted and led their lives on blind faith, believing in what we could be. I know they’re excited.”
Texas heads up Interstate 35 after a 23-21 loss at Iowa State, with the Cyclones kicking a field goal on the game’s final snap.
The Longhorns have won twice this year on field goals on the final play, but coach Tom Herman was not buying into the thought of Texas’ account coming due with the law of averages.
“It was pretty somber around the facility yesterday, as it should be after you lose,” Herman said Monday.
“We’ve still got a bunch of seniors in that locker room that have bled, sweat and cried for this program. We owe it to be determined to correct the mistakes that were made and do our best to go 1-0 against Baylor this week.”
The loss to Iowa State assured the Longhorns their 10th straight season with at least four defeats. They have alternated wins and losses in the past six games.
The Longhorns can still earn a trip to the Big 12 title game through the back door and with a lot of hand-wringing.
First, Texas would have to beat Baylor on Saturday; they’d also have to beat Texas Tech at home on Nov. 29. Baylor, meanwhile, would also need to lose at Kansas. And Iowa State would have to lose one of its final two — this week at home against Kansas or in its regular-season finale at Kansas State.
Texas is 78-26-4 all-time against Baylor. The Longhorns won in Waco, 38-7, in 2017, marking UT’s largest margin of victory (31 points) against a conference opponent during Herman’s tenure.
–Field Level Media