I-A College Football
 
 
           === Longhorns visit Bears in Lone Star State showdown ===
 
 Waco, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - With both teams still clinging to hope of
 winning the Big 12 Conference title, the 23rd-ranked Texas Longhorns and
 ninth-ranked Baylor Bears square off in the final game at Floyd Casey Stadium.
 
 Although Oklahoma State controls its destiny in the league, the winner of this
 matchup would represent the Big 12 in the BCS if the Cowboys were to lose
 their matchup with Oklahoma.
 
 "You start looking at this weekend when people have talked about whether we
 should have a championship game or not," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "We
 actually have two in the Big 12. You have the one with Oklahoma and Oklahoma
 State at 11:00, then ours at 2:30. So the Big 12 will be highlighted this
 weekend and will come out with a champion just like everybody else. It
 definitely highlighted some of our best teams this weekend. It's fun."
 
 Texas had a chance to put itself in the driver's seat in the league a few
 weeks back at home versus Oklahoma State, but it fell flat in a 38-13 loss.
 The Longhorns managed to get back on track on Thanksgiving night with a 41-16
 thrashing of Texas Tech to improve to 8-3 overall and 7-1 in conference.
 
 Baylor was once a national championship hopeful, but it too fell victim to
 Oklahoma State's outstanding run, as it was on the wrong end of a 49-17
 beating on Nov. 23. The Bears were also not very impressive in their latest
 contest at TCU, although they did manage to sneak away with a 41-38 victory to
 remain in the hunt for the conference championship.
 
 "You couldn't ask for a better scenario, other than winning the game, and
 that's the bottom line all the way around," Baylor coach Art Briles said.
 "That's where our focus will be plus closing out the stadium."
 
 Texas leads the all-time series with Baylor, 74-24-4, although the Bears have
 won two of the last three meetings.
 
 The Longhorns have been impressive on offense this season, putting up 33.1
 points and 441.8 yards per game, and they eclipsed both averages in last
 week's win over Texas Tech with a 41-point, 463-yard effort.
 
 Case McCoy has taken over as the full-time starting quarterback for the
 injured David Ash, and has completed 60.1 percent of his passes for 1,831
 yards with 12 touchdowns (two rushing) and nine interceptions. McCoy knows
 that he will have his work cut out for him if Texas wants to keep pace with
 the high-powered Bears.
 
 "We need a fast start," McCoy said. "When you get behind a team that can score
 a lot of points, it's hard to play catch-up."
 
 Since Johnathan Gray (780 yards, four TDs) was lost for the season with a calf
 injury a few weeks back, Malcolm Brown (643 yards, nine TDs) and Joe Bergeron
 (342 yards, four TDs) have been called upon for larger workloads. The duo
 responded in last week's win, as each amassed 100 yards rushing.
 
 Jaxon Shipley (52 receptions, 570 yards, TD) has developed a nice rapport with
 McCoy, while Mike Davis (46 receptions, 701 yards) is a big-play threat and
 has scored eight touchdowns.
 
 Defensively, Texas has one of the best units in the Big 12 in allowing just
 25.1 points per game.
 
 Steve Edmond leads the way with 73 tackles to go with two interceptions,
 although he will miss this contest with an injury. Cedric Reed (71 tackles,
 17.0 TFL, 9.0 sacks, 15 QB hurries, four FF) and Jackson Jeffcoat (69 tackles,
 19.0 TFL, 10.0 sacks, 18 QB hurries) are two of the best pass rushers in the
 nation. Duke Thomas has picked off three passes.
 
 While the Texas offense has played well, it pales in comparison to what Baylor
 has accomplished. The Bears are the nation's top-ranked offensive squad, both
 in terms of scoring (55.4 ppg) and yardage (635.1 ypg). The yardage output
 would be an NCAA record if it stands, while the scoring number is just shy of
 Army's all-time record of 56.0 ppg set way back in 1944.
 
 A big reason for the Bears' success has been the play of quarterback Bryce
 Petty, who is completing 62.4 percent of his passes for 3,557 yards, 28
 touchdowns and just two interceptions, while adding an additional 11 rushing
 scores in a campaign that has not gone unnoticed by his head coach.
 
 "I think he's been phenomenal and the thing that impresses me is first of all
 his leadership because you never really know about someone until you go
 through the fire with them -- go through some kind of adversity with them,"
 Briles said of his quarterback. "Fortunately, we haven't had a lot of
 adversity, but when we have, he's been really strong and really solid."
 
 Antwan Goodley is one of the nation's most dangerous deep threat, as he has
 caught 59 passes for 1,205 yards and 12 touchdowns. Levin Norwood (39
 receptions, 634 yards, six TDs) has stepped up in the absence of Tevin Reese
 (33 receptions, 824 yards, eight TDs), who is out for the season with a wrist
 injury.
 
 In addition to a potent aerial attack, Baylor also runs for nearly 270 yards
 per game, with Lache Seastrunk (982 yards, 11 TDs) and Shock Linwood (848
 yards, eight TDs) both a threat to take it to the house each time they touch
 the ball.
 
 Baylor is more than just a potent offense, however, as its defense yields just
 22.2 points and 355.2 yards per game, while generating 24 takeaways.
 
 Eddie Lackey is the unit's top performer with 84 tackles, 11.0 TFL, 4.5 sacks
 and two interceptions. Joe Williams, Demetri Goodson and Terrel Burt all have
 multiple interceptions, while Chris McAllister (11.5 TFL, 6.0 sacks) and Shawn
 Oakman (12.0 TFL) have both been solid along the defensive line.
 
 
 
 12/04 10:54:33 ET

Powered by The Sports Network.

Sports Plus - Ruidoso News