If you listen closely, you can hear the sighs of Longhorn fans from across the country hanging in the air after last week’s loss to Iowa State. While Texas’ chances of reaching the Big 12 Championship Game are miniscule, the team can still get to nine wins this season. To get to that nine-win mark, though, the Longhorns will need to get past Baylor.
Here’s how the game against the Bears could go:
Texas wins if …
… the offense can perform in all four quarters.
The Texas offense was incredibly hard to watch during the first half against the Cyclones. The running game did everything it could to develop, and it failed at every turn. With the running backs and junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger providing just 54 yards on the ground, the offense had to rely on the passing attack to lead a comeback. Thaat comeback was stopped short after an Iowa State game-winning field goal killed the Longhorns’ hopes for the Big 12 title. If the Longhorns have any chance of beating a one-loss Baylor team on the road, the offense has to be able to perform for all four quarters, not just the final two.
… the Longhorns play with some semblance of discipline.
This year’s Longhorn defense has been one of the most frustrating units in the last several years of Texas football. Injuries, inexperience and the occasional questionable play-call have all doomed the team at different times this season. The lack of discipline was on full display when Connor Assalley, an Iowa State junior kicker, lined up for a 42-yard field goal, only for several Texas defenders to gift the Cyclones a first down and the ticket to run out the clock with an offsides penalty. The penalty capped of the 55 yards worth of penalties on the night. The week prior was even worse when the Longhorns committed 85 yards worth of penalties. If the Longhorns can prevent those types of mistakes, they will have a shot to knock off Baylor in Waco.
Texas loses if …
… Charlie Brewer carves up the defense.
Baylor junior quarterback Charlie Brewer had his way with the Oklahoma defense in the first half of last week’s matchup. The Bears were able to drop 31 points on an OU team that limited Texas to 27 points by dominating defensively. If Brewer and the Bears play angry after the Sooners’ 34-31 comeback win, the Longhorns are in for a very rough afternoon. If the defense allows Brewer to repeat his performance, Texas will leave McLane Stadium without a win.
… the team does not play with energy.
Let’s face it. It’s hard for Texas fans to get excited for this Baylor game. There is little on the table to play for other than an appearance in the Alamo Bowl over the Camping World Bowl. Fans are allowed to feel apathetic about the matchup, but if the players feel the same way, the game will be over before either team sets foot on the field. Texas has to play with pride and want to finish the season strong, or a motivated Baylor team will take advantage. After the loss in the Red River Rivalry game, the team looked lifeless the following week against Kansas. If the Longhorns respond to the loss to Iowa State in a similar way, there is no way they can win a game against a very talented team on the road. While the Big 12 Championship is out of reach, the team will have to continue to find reasons to fight.