However you want to put it, Texas’ season is over. Technically, there is still one more game: a rather meaningless matchup between a pair of reeling Texas teams.
Texas had an opportunity to save its season on Saturday, with winning being the first domino Texas needed to fall to keep its already small chance of making it back to the Big 12 Championship game alive. As Baylor continued to dominate throughout the late November afternoon, Texas proved it never really had a grasp on this opportunity or this season.
They understood the magnitude of the game. They knew winning was the only way to stay above water. That’s why head coach Tom Herman slammed his head into senior defensive lineman Malcolm Roach’s helmet four times during a pregame speech.
“I used to do that, as a coordinator at Ohio State and as a head coach at Houston,” Herman said. “In my old age, I kind of stopped doing it a little bit. But I just felt it inside of me in this game because I knew we had to play physical, we had to play with strain, and I just felt like the young coach Herman.”
For Texas, the loss comes in two parts, much like its season. During the first half, offense wasn’t as inept as it was in Ames, Iowa the week prior, but the team still couldn’t find a pulse, only scoring three points at the end of the half following a 68-yard run from sophomore running back Keaontay Ingram that began at the two-yard line. Despite the last-second points the Longhorns put on the board before halftime, it didn’t serve as any type of spark for Texas, as the offense continued on a downward trend in the second half.
It was a major reversal of the offense that was on the field at the beginning of the season. That offense was viewed as the strength of this team, with playmakers and speed complimenting a Heisman hopeful quarterback. Now it is a team that, in a game to save its season, didn’t reach the red zone until the final moments and didn’t score a touchdown until one second was left in the fourth quarter.
But Texas’ defense did its job in the first half. It held one of the top offenses in the country to only one touchdown. The problem was that the results weren’t matched on the other side — the story of Texas’ entire season. It has been on rare occasion that the Longhorns have played complimentary football. Early in the season, the defense gave up points as easy as the offense got them. In the last three games, the roles have been reversed.
“It’s very frustrating,” junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger said. “Our defense is doing a great job of playing hard, and we’re not handling our side of the bargain and take a lot of ownership and try to fix it.”
Toward the end of the game, when all of McLane Stadium knew the Bears were going to leave victorious, chants of “BU” broke out among the crowd.
Then senior offensive lineman Zach Shackelford was hit with a personal foul penalty and senior offensive lineman Parker Braun was hit with an unsportsmanlike penalty, signs of the built-up frustration from the game finally to boiling over. Braun was then seen escorted off the field. Shackelford said that he was “playing through the whistle” postgame, and Braun was unavailable for comment. However, Herman addressed the situation, since Braun was thought to have been ejected and didn’t return to the game.
“Obviously, (Braun will) be dealt with from a punitive standpoint,” Herman said.
Texas’ performance was a point of embarrassment for this team. Both teams struggled in the first half, but Baylor was able to breakthrough in the second half and get the offense flowing. Meanwhile, Texas’ offense had as much flow as a tangled water hose.
“These guys want to win,” Herman said. “They’re embarrassed. They want to play to their standard.”
This is the first time Texas has lost back-to-back games this season, but the team has been against the ropes for much longer. The expectations and aspirations that were held up at the beginning of the season are being held to the light now. With everything held up –– through the injuries, poor defense earlier in the year and lacking offense in the final stretch –– the Texas Longhorns can now see all of the cracks, not only in their team, but in their season.