Saturday, November 14, 2009
Pregame ponderables for Texas-Baylor
By ESPN.com staff
WACO, Texas -- Fans have started filing into Floyd Casey Stadium. Interestingly, most of them are burnt orange-wearing Texas fans.
The Longhorns conceivably could wrap up a trip to the Big 12 championship game in Arlington, Texas, tonight by beating Baylor and if Oklahoma State loses tonight to Texas Tech.
When the No. 3 Longhorns begin play in about an hour, here are some of the pre-game storylines I’m considering.
- Colt McCoy's Heisman hopes: McCoy is coming off a career-best 470-yard effort that was only three yards away from the school’s single-game passing record. He’ll be attacking a Baylor defense that was blistered for 468 yards by Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert last week. He’ll also be gunning to tie the career NCAA FCS record for career victories held by David Greene of Georgia. McCoy is 41-7 and Greene is 42-10. A big game for McCoy could again resonate through a long day of football highlights.
- Mack Brown’s Baylor mastery: Brown is 11-0 against Baylor and every one of those victories has been by double-digits. His previous five triumphs in Waco came by margins of 62, 49, 56, 62 and 31 points.Baylor is one of five Big 12 opponents that has never beaten Texas under Mack Brown. The Horns are 12-0 against Oklahoma State, 11-0 vs. Baylor, 6-0 vs. Iowa State, 6-0 vs. Missouri and 5-0 vs. Kansas since Brown took over in 1998. Texas hosts Kansas next week.
- Baylor’s fleeting bowl hopes: The Bears need to win two of their last three games to become bowl eligible. They haven’t played in a bowl game since the 1994 Alamo Bowl loss to Washington State. After Texas, Baylor travels to Texas A&M and plays Texas Tech at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
- Cody Johnson’s first start for the Longhorns at tailback: The bullish 240-pound sophomore will receive his first starting opportunity against Baylor. He’s emerged as the most consistent threat in a sputtering running game. He’ll be facing a Baylor defense that has yielded at least 200 yards three different times this season but held Missouri to a season-low 10 rushing yards last week.
- James Kirkendoll's return to the starting lineup: The junior wide receiver started off fast but has struggled recently. But strong work in practice has enabled him to return to the starting lineup. Kirkendoll will get the start at split end while Jordan Shipley moves back to flanker.
- How Nick Florence handles his big game last week: Florence set a school record by passing for 427 yards last week, blistering Missouri for three touchdowns -- more touchdowns than he had thrown in his previous 147 pass attempts in his career. It will be tough for his recent success to translate against an emerging Texas secondary that has limited opponents to an average of 106 passing yards in the last three weeks, with only two touchdown passes and six interceptions. The Longhorns have limited rival passers to a quarterback efficiency rating of 82.13 during those games. The national leader for the season is Florida at 85.86.
- Baylor’s running game against Texas’ leading rush defense: Since Robert Griffin was lost for the season in the Bears’ third game of the season on Sept. 26, the Bears have managed to top 100 yards only once. They produced 38 yards on 28 carries last week against Missouri and will be facing the nation’s top rushing defense. Texas has allowed only two rushing touchdowns all season and only one since the opening game of the season. This will be a tough test for the Bears’ rushing attack.