Kickoff is at 11 a.m. Central on ESPN.
The Longhorns are honoring a large number of players on Senior Day, a group that went through a head coaching change, numerous assistant coaches, and spent a significant amount of their time on the Forty Acres living through the pandemic and social unrest — needless to say, this is a resilient group.
Thankful for our seniors— Texas Football (@TexasFootball) November 24, 2022
Longhorns for life pic.twitter.com/Pv938EA12b
Which seniors receive recognition in the final home game is often an indication of the players who are moving on after the season, made all the more important by the option many have to return for a so-called Covid season. A handful of players have already taken advantage of that extra season of eligibility, including safety Anthony Cook, linebacker DeMarvion Overshown, and linebacker Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey. Players recognized in the Senior Day video with remaining eligibility include wide receiver Jordan Whittington and tight end Brayden Liebrock, while defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat and linebacker Jett Bush are notable in their absence — those two players may have already decided to return for another season at Texas. Also walking is Junior Angilau, who missed the season with a knee injury suffered in preseason camp.
The Longhorns won the toss and deferred to the second half, giving the Bears the ball to start the game. An eight-yard gain by Baylor running back Richard Reese on second down gave the visitors a manageable down and distance to convert and quarterback Blake Shapen completed a pass in the flat at the sticks to move the chains, a call that stood upon review. Texas brought a run blitz on first down and linebacker Jaylan Ford picked up a tackle for loss. But the Horns couldn’t take advantage as the Bears responded with an 18-yard gain before taking a shot play that was underthrown and broken up by Texas cornerback Terrance Brooks and nearly intercepted by safety Jerrin Thompson. After stuffing two runs by the Bears, the Longhorns forced a punt.
The Texas offense got off to a poor start pinned deep near its goal line, picking up a false start penalty on first down, then gaining three yards on two runs to set up third and long. Baylor brought a blitz and Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone trying to avoid a sack.
Baylor was able to consolidate some momentum, running for a first down and then hitting a play-action pass over the top, beating a busted coverage for a 47-yard touchdown to give the Bears a 9-0 lead.
Opting to test the perimeter, a jet sweep to wide receiver Xavier Worthy went for 18 yards and Ewers then found tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders for a 37-yard gain. Unlike the first drive, runs by Bijan Robinson on first and second down set up 3rd and 3 in the red zone and Worthy converted on a screen pass. In short yardage on second down, Ewers pulled on a zone read to score a three-yard rushing touchdown.
Cornerback Jahdae Barron nearly came up with a huge play, jumping a throw from Shapen, but helping break up a third-down pass to force a quick three and out by the Bears.
After a shanked punt by Baylor, Texas came out in a Diamond formation and hit running back Keilan Robinson out of the backfield on a run-pass option for 19 years, then Bijan Robinson found a narrow seam for a tough gain on first down and found the edge on second down for the touchdown and a 14-9 lead.
A Shapen incompletion to start the second quarter put Baylor in 3rd and 11, but the Bears quarterback scrambled for nine yards to set up a fourth-down attempt converted on a play-action pass. After a missed shot play and a short run, Baylor was quickly back in a similar position, gaining three yards on a third-down run, but staying on the field for 4th and 6. The Bears converted again as Shapen had a clean pocket to find a receiver breaking open over the middle. Three tough runs moved the chains as Baylor moved into the Texas red zone, but two miscommunications between Shapen and his running back stalled the momentum and resulted in a fumble on the second occasion the Bears were lucky to recover. The Bears settled for a 30-yard field goal for cap the 18-play, 63-yard drive that took 8:41 off the clock.
A tough run from running back Roschon Johnson for 21 yards set the tempo for the Texas drive, followed by a 28-yard pass to Sanders running open on a deep crossing route, but two incomplete passes helped stall the drive, including Sanders running open over the middle. Like the Bears, the Longhorns were forced to settle for a field goal with Bert Auburn hitting from 38 yards.
Baylor picked up two first downs, primarily running the ball, but Shapen was tripped up for a sack on second down to force 3rd and 13 when Texas linebacker DeMarvion Overshown stopped a screen pass for no gain, forcing a punt with 2:17 remaining in the half.
Trying to pick up more points before halftime, Ewers was sacked on first down and right guard Colt Hutson was injured on a second-down run, requiring a cart to take him off the field after he was rolled up on by tight end Andrej Karic. Against a blitz on third down, Ewers took another sack.
When the punt by Daniel Trejo went only 36 yards, Baylor started their drive in plus territory with one timeout remaining. Three completed passes put the Bears in field-goal range with enough time to threaten the end zone, successfully executed when Shapen found tight end Blake Sims over the middle for a 14-yard touchdown and a 19-17 lead at halftime.
The long drive to start the second quarter helped Baylor dominate time of possession in the first half, holding the ball for over 21 minutes and winning the total yardage battle 224-136. Against an aggressive Bears defense, the Longhorns lost 34 yards on four sacks and only ran 22 total plays in the first half to 45 by Baylor.
A third-down completion by Ewers to Worthy set up a potential 4th and 2 near midfield on the first drive of the second half, but Sanders was called for a false start and Texas was forced to punt, an effort that bounced into the end zone for a touchback.
With the defense needing to avoid the long, time-consuming drives that characterized the first half for Baylor, a quick three and out represented an ideal outcome as Sweat broke up a third-down pass attempt.
Texas needed three tries to successfully get a play off following two false start penalties. When they were able to snap the ball, Ewers hit wide receiver Jordan Whittington for a 29-yard gain, but Whittington fumbled going to the ground and the Bears recovered.
Another long, crunching drive without much ambition or any chunk yardage ensued for Baylor. In the red zone, the Texas defense finally stiffened by forcing two incompletions and a missed 40-yard field goal.
After working the perimeter on two throws to Worthy, Texas found some sustained success on the ground with Robinson and then Johnson gaining 42 yards on five carries. Then it was to the edge again — a 19-yard catch and run by Whittington down to the Baylor 6-yard line. Johnson pushed Texas to the goal line and scored on the following play.
On a speed option, Baylor appeared to make its first. big mistake on a fumbled pitch, but it was ruled a forward pass and the Bears kept the ball and converted a 4th and 3 in their own territory when Shapen scrambled and found his running back on the sideline.
Texas was finally able to get off the field defensively to open the fourth quarter with cornerback D’Shawn Jamison in good coverage on a deep shot on 3rd and 9.
After picking up a first down, the Longhorns dialed up a shot play, but the pass protection broke down and Ewers fumbled trying to scramble and throw the ball away. Baylor scooped and scored to retake the lead and converted the two-point attempt.
Risk averse on the ensuing drive, Texas was able to pick up steady yardage on the ground, running the ball on all 11 plays to drive 75 yards for the go-ahead score by Robinson, who was sensational on the drive.
Baylor benefited from the kickoff going out of bounds and gave up an 11-yard completion on first down, but bounced back with a sack and quickly forced the Bears into a 3rd and 13. Ford made another game-changing play, picking off a pass from Shapen under pressure.
Predictably, Sarkisian kept the ball on the ground and the Bears couldn’t stop the Longhorns from driving into the red zone on five runs, ultimately forcing a timeout by Baylor. But that just gave Sarkisian time to get into his bag, calling a run from the Wildcat formation that Johnson took 11 yards for a touchdown, finishing in style with a hurdle to make the end zone.
In desperation mode, the Bears were forced to go for a 4th and 14 deep in their own territory and a big hit by Overshown on Shapen ensured the pass had no chance of landing in the hands of a Baylor receiver.
And that allowed the Longhorns to run out the clock on an 8-4 regular season thanks to 179 rushing yards from Robinson and 77 from Johnson with all five touchdowns coming on the ground.