Texas Longhorns running back Jonathon Brooks (24) runs the ball forward during the Texas Longhorns' game against the Wyoming Cowboys, Saturday, Sept. 16 at Darrell K Royal   Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin.

No. 3 Texas begins final Big 12 season at Baylor

No. 3 Texas will begin its final trip through the Big 12 Conference when it squares off against rival Baylor on Saturday night in Waco, Texas, in the league opener for both teams.

The Longhorns (3-0), along with Oklahoma, are leaving the Big 12 to join the Southeastern Conference in 2024. That makes Texas, if it wasn’t already, the team every conference opponent loves to hate and longs to beat.

But this year’s Longhorns team is perhaps the best since 2009 and is looking to go 4-0 for the first time since 2012. Texas is the only team in the nation that’s won three games against FBS teams that went to bowls last season.

“We understand the environment we’re walking into, and we can’t be fearful of that — we have to embrace it,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said. “Now more than ever there will be ‘Horns down,’ now more than ever there is ‘who cares about Texas — let’s take one more shot at them on the way out.’

“So we can’t sit there and be a punching bag. We got to walk in there and be in attack mode.”

Texas’ latest win was last Saturday’s 31-10 decision at home over Wyoming in which the Longhorns scored three unanswered touchdowns in the first six-plus minutes of the fourth quarter to quell the Cowboys’ upset bid.

The Longhorns did enough to win and survive their hangover from winning at then-No. 4 Alabama on Sept. 9, with Quinn Ewers passing for 131 yards and two TDs and running 5 yards for a third score. Jonathon Brooks ran for a career-best 164 yards on 21 carries and Jerrin Thompson had a 27-yard pick-six to assure the victory.

It was enough for the AP Poll voters to move Texas up a notch in the rankings.

Baylor (1-2, 0-0) will play the final contest of a four-game homestand to begin the year. The Bears garnered their first win of the season when they hammered Long Island University 30-7 last Saturday. Dawson Pendergrass ran for 111 yards and a touchdown and Richard Reese added 82 yards rushing and two scores on just 12 carries.

Baylor amassed 270 rushing yards on 48 carries, racking up more running plays than Long Island, an FCS school, had in total (43). Baylor quarterback Sawyer Robertson, making his second career start, passed for 113 yards and a touchdown in the win, which snapped a six-game losing streak dating to last season.

“I think the execution part was the best it’s been this past Saturday,” Baylor coach Dave Aranda said Monday. “Now, to have this heavier lift, so to speak, and to play well versus Texas, we’re going to need better execution.”

Robertson again will be under center as Blake Shapen is set to miss his third game with an MCL injury suffered in the season-opening loss to Texas State.

Saturday’s matchup between Texas and Baylor will be the 113th meeting between the schools. It will be the 52nd meeting in Waco, where the Longhorns own a 31-18-2 advantage. The only schools Texas has played more than Baylor are Texas A&M (118) and Oklahoma (118) — with those rivalries continuing as conference foes in the SEC.

Don’t think for a minute Baylor won’t give the Longhorns their best shot.

“I can’t tell you how many times this offseason I heard, ‘Dave, just win this one game (the Texas game),’” Aranda said. “That has been brought up to me multiple times.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2023; Waco, Texas, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Sawyer Robertson (13) throws downfield against the Utah Utes during the first half at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor can’t afford another misstep vs. Long Island

Baylor is looking to rediscover a way to win and set the table for Big 12 play when it hosts FCS opponent Long Island University on Saturday afternoon in Waco, Texas.

The Bears (0-2) remain at home for the third contest of a four-game homestand to open the season, but the friendly confides of McLane Stadium made little difference in the first two contests.

Baylor fell to then-No. 12 Utah 20-13 last weekend when its defense wore down in the searing heat and gave up two touchdowns in the final 1:59 of the contest. The deciding score came with 17 seconds to play after quarterback Sawyer Robertson, making his first career start, was intercepted at the BU 29 with 1:35 remaining.

Robertson then moved the Bears downfield in the final seconds before his pass into the end zone fell incomplete as time expired. He finished with 218 yards passing and two interceptions.

“I think from the inside, in talking to the team, they can feel the improvement,” Baylor coach Dave Aranda said Monday. “It’s a matter of trying to eliminate the distractions and stay focused on what’s right ahead of us because I think they feel some momentum — however slight.”

It was Baylor’s sixth straight loss over the past two seasons, the Bears’ longest losing streak since 2017.

Long Island (0-2) travels to the heart of Texas on the heels of a 21-10 loss at Bryant on Saturday. The Sharks lost their opener to Ohio 27-10. Saturday’s game marks the final tune-up for Long Island before opening Northeast Conference play against Duquesne on Sept. 30.

“We are definitely ahead of where we were as a football team at this time last season,” LIU second-year coach Ron Cooper said. “We are stronger and faster and understand what we are trying to do.”

Two quarterbacks have shared the position for the Sharks, with Luca Stanzani throwing for 204 yards, one TD and three interceptions and Chris Howell passing for 139 yards. Stanzani leads the team with 68 rushing yards and Howell has a TD rush on 11 carries and 29 yards.

It’s the first meeting between the programs.

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2023; Waco, Texas, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Bryson Barnes (16) stands in the pocket against the Baylor Bears during the first half at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Late TD, defense lift No. 12 Utah over Baylor

Jaylon Glover ran 11 yards for a touchdown with 17 seconds remaining to lift visiting No. 12 Utah to a stirring 20-13 win over Baylor on Saturday afternoon in searing conditions in Waco, Texas.

Utah’s Nate Johnson rushed seven yards on a keeper at the end of a 15-play, 88-yard drive to tie the game at 13-13 with 1:59 to play in regulation. The march used 8:02 of the fourth quarter but gave the Bears another chance to win the game.

That plan went awry when Baylor quarterback Sawyer Robertson uncorked a pass under duress that was intercepted by the Utes’ Cole Bishop at the Baylor 29 with 1:35 remaining. Utah ran five snaps — one of them a 22-yard TD that was called back because of a holding call — before Glover scored the game-winner to rescue the Utes.

Ja’Quinden Jackson ran for 129 yards on 19 carries for Utah (2-0) while the Utes’ two quarterbacks, Johnson and Byron Barnes, passed for a combined 153 yards.

Robertson finished with 218 yards passing and two interceptions. Baylor (0-2) made a spirited attempt to tie the game late, but Robertson’s pass into the end zone fell incomplete as time expired.

Dominic Richardson finished with 77 yards rushing on 14 carries in the loss, The Bears have now dropped six straight games over two seasons.

After a scoreless opening period, the Bears got on the board via a 34-yard field goal by Isaiah Hankins at the 13:03 mark of the second quarter. The Utes answered on their ensuing possession, driving 62 yards on seven snaps en route to Cole Becker’s 31-yard field goal with 9:04 to play in the first half.

Baylor retook the lead on Robertson’s 4-yard keeper around left end at the end of an 11-play, 79-yard drive with 3:23 to play until halftime.

The Bears outgained Utah 222-153 in the first half, with the bulk of that majority built through the air (126-65).

Hankins added to the Baylor lead with a 24-yard field goal on the Bears’ first drive of the third quarter to culminate a 10-play, 68-yard march. Utah countered with a 46-yard field goal from Becker with 4:05 left in the third to pull within seven points.

That set the stage for the furious finish.

–Field Level Media

Nov 25, 2022; Austin, Texas, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Blake Shapen (12) during the second half against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor looking to bounce back, starting with Texas State

Texas State and host Baylor are both looking for redemption, but for different reasons, when they open the season on Saturday in Waco, Texas.

Baylor has a bad taste in its mouth after going 6-7 in 2022, one year after the Bears won the Big 12 championship.

Defense was the main culprit last year for Baylor, which allowed nearly 27 points per game.

Baylor fired defensive coordinator Ron Roberts after last season and replaced him with Matt Powledge, but it might take some time for that unit to develop with only five starters back.

That will put more pressure on Baylor junior quarterback Blake Shapen to perform.

Shapen led the Bears to that conference title two years ago but struggled with inconsistency last year.

Fortunately for Shapen, he’ll have two outstanding running backs to hand the ball off to in returnee Richard Reese and Oklahoma State transfer Dominic Richardson.

“The focus is more on us executing things that we’ve been repping all the way back to winter, spring, summer and fall, and our ability to take our base and apply to specific game situations,” Baylor coach Dave Aranda said.

While Baylor looks to bounce back from a down year, Texas State is looking for redemption for its past eight years.

The Bobcats haven’t had a winning season since 2014, and pretty much everything is new with the program.

Texas State has a first-year coach in G.J. Kinne, who coached last season for Incarnate Word in the FCS.

Kinne has 51 new players in the program, including 37 transfers.

“I think that first game will be a lot of (evaluation),” Kinne said. “We want to play as many guys as possible. Obviously, we are trying to win the game. But when you have this many new guys and you don’t have a preseason game or stuff like that, you have to get some (evaluation), especially early.”

This will be the third straight September meeting between the schools. Baylor has won all four in the series.

–Field Level Media

Texas Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson (5) runs the ball forward during the Texas Longhorns game against Baylor on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022.

Ut Baylor Football 00323

No. 23 Texas beats Baylor, stays alive for Big 12 title game berth

Bijan Robinson ran for 179 yards and two touchdowns as No. 23 Texas stayed in the hunt for a spot in the Big 12 Championship game with a come-from-behind 38-27 win over Baylor on Friday afternoon in the regular-season finale for both teams in Austin, Texas.

The Longhorns (8-4, 6-3 Big 12) will play in the league championship game against TCU if Kansas beats Kansas State on Saturday night. Texas’ eight regular-season wins are its most since 2018, when it beat Georgia in the Sugar Bowl to finish 10-4.

After Robinson’s 1-yard TD run gave Texas the lead for good midway through the fourth quarter, Roschon Johnson added some insurance when he hurdled over a defender for an 11-yard score, his second rushing touchdown of the game.

Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers finished 12 of 16 for 194 yards, with seven of those passes caught by Xavier Worthy for 62 yards.

Blake Shapen led the Bears (6-6, 4-5 Big 12) with 179 yards passing and two TDs. Baylor finished the regular season with three straight losses and but is nonetheless bowl-eligible.

The Bears got a safety on Texas’ opening offensive possession when Ewers was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone. They added to their lead with a 47-yard touchdown pass from Shapen to Jaylen Ellis at the 6:54 mark of the first quarter.

Texas answered on Ewers’ 3-yard TD run with 3:54 to play in the quarter. The Longhorns then took a 14-9 lead before the quarter was out via Robinson’s 2-yard scoring run.

The teams traded field goals, with the Bears’ John Mayers hitting from 30 yards at the 7:54 mark of the second quarter and Texas’ Bert Auburn converting from 38 yards away two minutes later. Baylor went back to the front at 19-17 on Shapen’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Ben Sims with 40 seconds remaining in the half.

Texas drove to a Johnson 1-yard TD plunge that put the Longhorns up 24-19 with 2:21 remaining in the third quarter.

Baylor’s defense put the Bears back in front early in the fourth. Ewers fumbled as he was being sacked by Al Walcott and the loose ball was scooped by Gabe Hall, who returned it 16 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Shapen the hit Hal Presley for a two-point conversion pass to increase the lead to 27-24.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Waco, Texas, USA; TCU Horned Frogs wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) catches a pass for a first down against the Baylor Bears as cornerback Mark Milton (3) defends during the first quarter at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

No. 4 TCU rallies for last-second win over Baylor

Behind an inspired effort from Max Duggan and a last-second field goal by Griffin Kell, No. 4 TCU kept its College Football Playoff hopes alive with a dramatic 29-28 comeback win Saturday against host Baylor in Waco, Texas.

Duggan passed for 327 yards and a touchdown and led the Horned Frogs (11-0) with 50 rushing yards and a score.

Kendre Miller and Emari Demercado also ran for touchdowns for TCU. Taye Barber caught five passes for 108 yards and Gunnar Henderson had a touchdown reception for the Frogs.

Craig Williams rushed 19 times for 112 yards for Baylor (6-5), which finished with 232 yards on the ground. Blake Shapen passed for 269 yards and a touchdown.

Monaray Baldwin had six receptions for 123 yards for the Bears. Kelsey Johnson added rushing and receiving TDs.

Baylor kicked off the scoring when tailback Qualan Jones found paydirt from 10 yards out on the game’s opening drive. The 11-play scoring march was aided by a fourth-and-1 run by Dillon Doyle.

TCU tied the game on its second possession on a Duggan 7-yard touchdown run. A 39-yard pass from Duggan to Quentin Johnston, which put the Horned Frogs in Baylor territory following a missed field goal, sparked the scoring drive.

The Bears took a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter when Johnson scored on a 2-yard run. But TCU responded with a five-play, 90-yard drive, which was capped by Miller’s 2-yard touchdown scamper.

Baylor threatened to take the lead before halftime, but Shapen was intercepted by Bud Clark in the end zone, which kept the game gridlocked at 14.

The Horned Frogs took a 20-14 lead with less than six minutes to go in the third quarter when Duggan hooked up with Henderson for a 26-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was no good

Johnson’s 12-yard touchdown grab and John Mayers’ extra point gave the Bears a 21-20 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Reese’s 1-yard scoring plunge with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game put Baylor up 28-20. The score was set up by Baldwin’s 74-yard reception on third-and-11.

TCU cut the lead to 28-26 on Demercado’s 3-yard run with 2:07 to play, but the two-point conversion failed.

After a three-and-out by Baylor, Kell’s winning field goal capped a nine-play, 45-yard drive.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Baylor Bears safety Devin Lemear (20) returns an interception as Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Drake Stoops (12) chases during the first half at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor knocks off Oklahoma on road for third-straight win

Baylor’s Craig Williams ran for a career-high 192 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Bears to a 38-35 win over Oklahoma Saturday in Norman, Oklahoma.

Williams could’ve scored again, breaking away for what would’ve been a 50-yard touchdown, but instead he took a knee at the 7 and Baylor ran the clock out.

Slightly before Williams’ long run, Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen completed a critical third-down pass to keep possession. The Bears were 4 of 13 on third downs, but converted three times on fourth down.

It was the Bears’ second win in Norman, with the other coming in 2013.

Baylor (6-3, 4-2 Big 12) secured bowl eligibility and stretched its winning streak to three games.

The Sooners (5-4, 2-4) had their two-game winning streak snapped and have lost multiple home games for the first time since 2014.

Williams had 209 rushing yards entering the game.

Baylor ran for 281 yards and five touchdowns.

Baylor’s defense made life difficult on Sooners’ quarterback Dillon Gabriel.

In the first half, turnovers fueled Baylor’s defense.

The Bears intercepted Gabriel three times before halftime — all on tipped passes — leading to 10 points as Baylor build a 24-21 lead heading into halftime.

Gabriel had thrown one interception on 201 passes entering the game.

Gabriel finished 22 of 34 for 261 yards and two touchdowns while Eric Gray ran for 106 yards and two scores.

Gray’s last touchdown, a 1-yard run with 4:05 remaining, pulled the Sooners to within three, but the drive took more than five minutes and Oklahoma didn’t regain possession.

The Sooners outgained Baylor 499-413, but the turnover difference in the first half was ultimately the difference.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Waco, Texas, USA; Baylor Bears head coach Dave Aranda cheers for this team during the first quarter against the Albany Great Danes at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Familiarity all around when Baylor meets Oklahoma

Oklahoma coach Brent Venables has plenty of familiarity with his Baylor counterpart, Dave Aranda.

During their time as up-and-coming defensive coordinators, the pair spent time talking defensive philosophies.

But Venables said their relationship really grew when Aranda was the defensive coordinator at LSU and recruited Venables’ son, Jake.

When decision time arrived, Jake Venables picked Clemson.

“His mama won the recruiting battle,” Venables said. “Dave didn’t make the cut.”

On Saturday, Aranda’s Bears (5-3, 3-2 Big 12) will take on Venables’ Sooners (5-3, 2-3) at Norman, Okla.

Aranda not only has experience with Oklahoma’s coach, he knows the Sooners’ offense as well.

The Bears played Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl to end last season, beating the Rebels 21-7. Ole Miss’ offensive coordinator was Jeff Lebby, who now is in the same position with the Sooners.

“I think the tempo is familiar,” Aranda said of the similarities. “I think there are less spread-out sets. At least here lately, there’s been more of a focus on the run game. There’s a fair amount of runs that you remember back from OU a year ago to two years ago kind of showing up.”

The run game figures to be key Saturday.

Both teams are among the top rushing teams in the Big 12, averaging better than 200 yards per game. Baylor is 24th in the nation at 201.5 yards, while Oklahoma is 16th at 217.5.

The defenses, though, have been markedly different.

Baylor leads the conference in rush defense, allowing just 113.2 yards per game, while the Sooners are last at 189.8.

“They’re really stout inside,” Lebby said of Baylor’s defensive line. “I think for us, it’s about being really efficient, being really good on first down.”

A year ago, Baylor’s defense mauled Oklahoma, holding the Sooners to 260 yards of total offense, their lowest total since 2014. Baylor pulled out a 27-14 victory.

Venables said the matchup on the other side — his defensive line against the Bears’ offensive front — would go a long way toward deciding the outcome.

The Sooners held Iowa State to 66 rushing yards in a 27-13 win last week to run their modest winning streak to two games following a 49-0 defeat to Texas.

“It’s going to be, to me, the matchup, to be honest with you,” Venables said. “It’s a great, great challenge, and our guys know that.”

Baylor also carries momentum into Saturday’s game off a 45-17 road win over Texas Tech.

Last year, Baylor victory’s over Oklahoma snapped a seven-game Sooners’ winning streak in the series. Baylor has beaten the Sooners only once at Norman, 48-14 in 2014.

–Field Level Media

Oct 29, 2022; Lubbock, Texas, USA;  Baylor Bears running back Richard Reese (29) rushes against Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive linebacker Tyree Wilson (19) in the first half at Jones AT&T Stadium and Cody Campbell Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Richard Reese helps Baylor run past error-prone Texas Tech

Freshman Richard Reese ran for 148 yards and three touchdowns and AJ McCarty returned an interception for another score as Baylor throttled error-prone Texas Tech 45-17 on Saturday in a Big 12 Conference dustup in Lubbock, Texas.

Reese had a career-high 36 carries in the win as Baylor (5-3, 3-2 Big 12) won its second straight game. Blake Shapen passed for 211 yards and a touchdown for the Bears.

Texas Tech (4-4, 2-3) suffered five interceptions from three quarterbacks. Behren Morton started and played the majority of the snaps, going 11 of 33 for 152 yards, a touchdown and three of the picks. Donovan Smith and Tyler Shough also saw action, with the latter uncorking the interception that McCarty turned into a pick-six with 4:04 to play to ice the win.

Qualan Jones added a final TD for Baylor on a 17-yard run with 45 seconds remaining.

Baylor got on the board first via a John Mayers 48-yard field goal with 4:39 to play in the first quarter. The Red Raiders answered as Trey Wolff’s 33-yard FG culminated a six-play, 48-yard drive and tied the game with 8:09 to play in the second quarter.

Reese’s first TD, on a 1-yard plunge, put Baylor up 10-3 with 3:39 remaining in the second quarter. That was more than enough time for Baylor to strike again and Reese strolled home for a 2-yard TD run that gave the Bears a 17-3 advantage at the half.

Baylor picked up where it left off early in the third quarter. Mark Milton intercepted Morton on the second play of the quarter’s opening possession, setting the table for a 9-yard scoring pass from Shapen to Hal Presley at the 11:09 mark.

Texas Tech finally got on track, driving 75 yards in 15 plays to a 1-yard Morton-to-Henry Teeter TD pass midway through the third quarter. Morton then drew the Red Raiders to within 24-17 on an 8-yard scoring scramble on fourth down with 2:46 left in the quarter.

Reese helped stem the tide with his third scoring run, again from a yard away, to push Baylor’s lead to 31-17 with 12:46 to play.

–Field Level Media

Oct 22, 2022; Waco, Texas, USA;  Baylor Bears wide receiver Monaray Baldwin (80) scores a touchdown in the first half against the Kansas Jayhawks at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Richard Reese’s big rushing day paces Baylor past Kansas

Richard Reese ran for a career-high 186 yards and two touchdowns as Baylor held on to defeat Kansas 35-23 Saturday in Waco, Texas. Baylor, who defeated Kansas for the 13th straight time, snapped a two-game losing streak.

Kansas outscored Baylor 20-0 during the second half to cut the deficit to 28-23, but the Jayhawks couldn’t complete the comeback.

Baylor out gained Kansas 273-56 on the ground. Quarterback Blake Shapen was 17-of-26 for 164 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw two interceptions.

Jason Bean was 16-of-27 for 232 yards with a touchdown for Kansas.

Kansas (5-3, 2-3 Big 12) lost its third straight game and still needs one more victory to reach bowl eligibility for the first time since 2008.

Baylor (4-3, 2-2 Big 12) jumped out quickly. Following a three-and-out on KU’s opening drive and a shanked punt, Baylor drove 41 yards for the first score. Shapen found Monaray Baldwin in the flat and he raced untouched into the end zone.

Kansas fumbled on its next play and Baylor capitalized with a two-play, 25-yard drive, capped by a Richard Reese 14-yard run.

Kansas got on the board with a 30-yard Jacob Borcila field goal.

Kyron Drones scored from the 4-yard line with Baylor’s third touchdown early in the second quarter, extending the lead to 21-3. After a Kansas pooch-punt that stopped inside the 1-yard line midway through the quarter, Baylor went on a 15-play, 99-yard touchdown drive that ended with 42 seconds left in the half.

Baylor appeared to be ready to add to the lead to open the second half when the momentum switched dramatically. Shapen was sacked by Jereme Robinson, who stripped the ball, picked it up and ran 49 yards to the Baylor 9-yard line. Kansas punched it in with a 2-yard Devin Neal run.

Kansas forced Baylor’s first punt then marched 95 yards in 11 plays to cut the deficit to 28-16. The two-point conversion failed. Bean found Quentin Skinner on a 24-yard touchdown.

Kansas held the Bears on fourth-and-1 at the KU 6-yard line, then capped a 94-yard drive with a 4-yard scamper by Bean.

–Field Level Media