No. 5 Texas 44, Baylor 14
AUSTIN, Texas -- The stage is finally set, and for college football fans, the stage is about as grand as it can get.
Using yet another fast start, No. 5 Texas routed Baylor 44-14 in front of 82,626 fans on a damp and dreary Saturday afternoon at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
With the win, the Longhorns improved to 4-0 and can now ready itself for next Saturday's Red River Shootout at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas against No. 2 Oklahoma, which is also 4-0 after beating Texas Tech 28-13 on Saturday.
Against the Bears (2-2), the Longhorns jumped out to a 14-0 lead just a little over five minutes into the first quarter and would increase that lead to 37-7 by halftime. For the season, the Longhorns have outscored their four opponents 125-30 in the first half.
"With the OU game (looming), there were a lot of concerns for coaches this week for where things are and things you need to get accomplished for the game," said Texas coach Mack Brown. "We asked our guys to start the game right and they did. We were pleased with the attitude they came out of the dressing room and pleased with the three-and-outs into the wind. I think the defense set the tempo."
UT was led by senior running back and Heisman Trophy candidate Cedric Benson, who while running for 188 yards and three touchdowns, passed Earl Campbell into second place on the all-time Texas rushing list. Sophomore quarterback Vince Young, meanwhile, was 15-for-20 for 189 yards, including a pair of scores to senior wideout Tony Jeffery.
It was the UT defense, though, that set the tone early in this one, forcing three consecutive three-and-outs from the Baylor offense, giving the Texas offense an average starting point of the Baylor 36 on its first three possessions. The Longhorn offense responded, scoring touchdowns on two of those first three drives.
"I think that we're getting a feel for just about everything," said UT co-defensive coordinator Greg Robinson. "We're getting a better feel for how to play the schemes and coverages. We're a work in progress and we're still working."
Starting at the Baylor 49 on its first drive, thanks to a partially blocked punt by Jeffery, UT stuck to the ground for all six plays, with Benson carrying four times for 38 yards. From the Baylor 11, Benson made a nifty cutback to the outside before stretching his way into the end zone, giving UT a 7-0 lead with 12:16 remaining in the first.
On Baylor's second offensive series, Texas junior linebacker Aaron Harris intercepted a Dane King pass that was tipped by fellow UT linebacker, senior Derrick Johnson, giving the Longhorns possession at the Baylor 25.
The UT offense would capitalize, with senior tight end Bo Scaife scoring the unconventional touchdown, falling on a Benson fumble in the end zone. Benson had fumbled trying to power his way in from three yards out. Scaife's recovery gave UT a 14-0 lead with 9:41 still left in the first.
Baylor would score late in the first quarter, as the Bears, taking advantage of good field position of its own, needed only two plays to move 49 yards for the touchdown. On the first play of the drive, UT's Johnson forced a fumble by Baylor senior running back Anthony Krieg that bounced 15 yards forward to the UT 24, where it was pounced on by Baylor sophomore wideout Dominique Ziegler.
Rolling right on a play-action pass, King found senior wideout Marquis Roberts in the end zone for the score on the very next play, cutting the Texas lead to 14-7 with 1:08 left in the first.
That would spell the end of the Baylor momentum though, as UT scored early and often in the second quarter to take full command of the contest. After scampering 47 yards on a quarterback keeper in the final minute of the first quarter, Young started the second off by hooking up with Jeffery on a 23-yard touchdown to make it 21-7 Texas.
On Baylor's next possession, the Texas defense forced another three-and-out from the Baylor offense, UT's special teams struck again as sophomore safety Michael Griffin blocked Baylor's punt through the Baylor end zone, giving Texas the safety and a 23-7 lead with 13:54 left before halftime.
The Longhorns added two more scores in the final five minutes of the half to take the commanding halftime lead. After senior safety Phillip Geiggar forced a Baylor fumble that was recovered by junior defensive tackle Larry Dibbles at the Bear 39, UT needed six plays to score, with Young once again finding Jeffery on a comeback route, making it 30-7 Texas with 4:45 left in the second.
On its final first half possession, Texas marched 82 yards on nine plays, with the drive being capped by Benson's five-yard plunge with 37 seconds left, giving the Longhorns the 37-7 halftime lead. On the drive, Young was six-for-six for 84 yards, helping Texas overcome a pair of penalties.
After halftime, the Longhorns put the game on ice on its very first possession, with Benson chugging for 49 yards during a 66-yard drive, including the final two on a plunge into the end zone, giving Texas a 44-7 lead with 12:29 remaining in the third.
Benson also moved past Campbell on the UT rushing list, with only Ricky Williams ahead of him.
"A couple plays after halftime, I started to get emotional. To me it's a great honor, considering all the great work I put in." said Benson about moving past Campbell. "The guys on the offensive line played well and they wanted it just as bad. We talked about that before the game and they said I was going to get it in the first half, but Baylor came out and played tough and didn't make it easy for us."
Baylor added the game's final score in the fourth quarter, with Roberts hauling in his second score, a six-yard grab from sophomore quarterback Shawn Bell, making it 44-14 with 8:00 left to play.