WACO — When asked what it meant to help Baylor — a program he watched mire in mediocrity as a Waco native — win its first Big 12 title Saturday, the only response Ahmad Dixon offered was the sound of the Big 12 Champion posterboard slapping the podium to rest in front of his face.
“That’s about it,” the normally verbose Dixon said with a smile.
Two weeks after its national and conference title hopes appeared to be dashed on a frigid night in Stillwater, No. 9 Baylor made good on its second opportunity, closing out its stay at Floyd Casey Stadium with a 30-10 victory against No. 23 Texas to clinch the Big 12 championship outright.
The team Baylor defeated in its last game at Floyd Casey, Oklahoma, gave the Bears a helping hand on the final day of the regular season, knocking off No. 6 Oklahoma State in Stillwater — the same place Baylor lost weeks ago — to make the Bears’ showdown with Texas for a conference title.
“Appreciate that,” Chris McAllister said of the Sooners after the game.
Tied 3-3 at halftime, Baylor (11-1) scored 17 unanswered in the third quarter, burying Texas in a hole of which its offense — anemic the entire game — was unable to dig out of.
Rather than celebrating an improbable conference championship, the Longhorns were left answering questions on the future of coach Mack Brown following an 8-4 finish.
“We didn’t make the plays that we needed to make,” said Brown, who declined to answer questions about his future with the program. “I’m proud of the way we played this year, but disappointed in tonight.”
The Longhorns did, however, do what no team has done to Baylor at home this season and that was hold the Bears without a first-half touchdown.
The Bears opened the game with four straight completions for 40 yards by Bryce Petty, moving hastily into Longhorn territory before the drive stalled and Aaron Jones booted a 22-yard field goal in what appeared to a prelude to a long day for the Longhorn defense.
The next five Baylor drives ended in an incompletion on a fake punt, a field goal missed wide left, a field goal missed wide right and two punts.
Despite outgaining Texas 232-158 in the first half, Baylor went into the locker room tied at a field goal apiece.
“It was driving us crazy, we were getting down to the red zone, and we were making so many procedures,” Baylor guard Cyril Richardson said. “We just had to lock down, make it simple for us.”
Texas didn’t fare any better in the early going, as its first four drives ended in a three and out, a missed field goal, a turnover on downs and an interception.
The one bright spot of the first half for either team was Malcolm Brown as the Longhorn junior bulled his way to 118 yards on 17 carries.
Baylor, however, wasted no time heating up in the second half, opening the quarter with a 77-yard drive that Antwan Goodley capped with a one-handed grab on a slant for a 12-yard touchdown.
It was one of many spectacular plays by Goodley, who finished with eight receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown.
“That’s just him being him,” Petty said of Goodley. “That’s all I can say. He makes me look a lot better than I make him look.”
After a Texas three and out, Baylor needed just 2 minutes, 2 seconds to score again as Petty hit a wide open Levi Norwood out of the slot for a 6-yard touchdown at the 6:54 mark in the third.
Down 20-3, Texas made it interesting with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Case McCoy to Malcolm Brown on fourth-and-goal that cut the lead to 10 with 12:38 to play.
But that was the last score the Longhorns were able to muster as Baylor held Texas to 217 yards of total offense.
A K.J. Morton interception with 4:09 to play sealed the win for Baylor.
And while coach Art Briles has been content to let players like Dixon and Petty speak to how good the Bears are, on Saturday, the coach finally did the talking himself.
“A lot of people would look and say, ‘they can be pretty good, but we’re not sure they’re ever going to win a Big 12 championship,’” Briles said. “They’re just going to have to stop that last part of the sentence because it’s a reality now — we are Big 12 champions.”
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