Baylor vs. Texas.
It doesn’t roll off the tongue or pique the interest the same way Texas-Oklahoma, Texas-USC, or even Texas-TCU did in recent weeks.
Head coach Tom Herman hopes the Longhorns aren’t listening to that opinion.
For the No. 9 Longhorns, their home game on Saturday against the upstart Bears is just as important as wins against the aforementioned ranked teams. Texas forged its way into the Top 10 for the first time since 2010 with victories in all three games, but would lose ground in an instant by bowing to the Bears.
Texas (5-1, 3-0 in Big 12 play) returns to Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin for after beating then-No. 7 Oklahoma last Saturday in Dallas in a game that’s already taken its spot in the pantheon of battles in that storied rivalry.
The focus now for the Longhorns is to keep their momentum going and to keep to their goal of going 1-0 each week rather than looking at the big picture.
Texas, winner of five straight games including three over ranked opponents, has not been ranked this highly for its seventh game of a season since 2009.
“We’re banged up – these last four weeks have been kind of a bit of a meat grinder, if you will,” Herman said. “I’m maybe the most proud of how the team came to work (Sunday after the win over OU). They came ready to get better, understanding that we’re 0-0 against Baylor this week and that our preparation is what’s led us to where we’re at now.”
Texas has found the proper buttons to push for success with this team, and Herman has no intent to change anything as long as it’s been working as well as it has the past five weeks.
“We figured out a bit of a blueprint now, and when you find that, you don’t change,” Herman explained. “They would think I was crazy if I walked in there and said ‘hey, guys, I know you just beat Oklahoma and we have a conference game at home but we’re going to do a bunch of things really different this week.’
“We’re not. We’re going to do ’em a little harder, a little better, a little more of them each and every week.”
The Longhorns and Bears meet for the 108th time on Saturday with Texas holding a 77-26-4 advantage over Baylor. Saturday’s meeting will be the 59th all-time played in Austin, the Longhorns own a 46-10-2 record against Baylor at home.
“They were obviously extremely impressive (against Oklahoma),” Baylor coach Matt Rhule said, appraising Texas’ talent and big-play offensive weapons. “They’re playing really, really well right now, and we have a lot of respect for them and their players and their coaching staff, and know it will be a great opportunity for us.”
Baylor (4-2, 2-1 in Big 12 play) has been one of the league’s surprise teams, beating always tough Kansas State at home 37-34 last Saturday despite giving up four long touchdown runs.
In Saturday’s win over the Wildcats, Baylor racked up 557 yards, 38 first downs, and controlled the clock for over 34 minutes.
After passing for 400 yards in a 66-33 loss to Oklahoma on Sept. 29, quarterback Charlie Brewer was on the mark again last week, hitting on 30 of 44 passes for 296 yards and a touchdown while also picking up a TD on the ground.
“We were by no means perfect,” Brewer said. “But when it mattered the most we battled it out. Good teams do that – find a way. And we found a way in the end. The more you can get used to that and build your confidence up late in the game in the fourth quarter it’s really important for the team.”
Texas has won three straight games against the Bears, their longest streak since winning 12 straight from 1998-2009.
–Steve Habel, Field Level Media