WACO (AP) – By time No. 9 Baylor and No. 23 Texas kick off their regular season finale, they could be playing a de facto Big 12 championship game with a Fiesta Bowl trip on the line.
The winner of Saturday’s game is guaranteed at least a share of the Big 12 title. The last game ever at Baylor’s Floyd Casey Stadium becomes even bigger than that for the Bears (10-1, 7-1) and Longhorns (8-3, 7-1) if sixth-ranked Oklahoma State loses at home against No. 18 Oklahoma earlier in the day.
“I think it will be a cherry on top if Oklahoma decides to pull out a victory,” Texas quarterback Case McCoy said. “Our job right now is to win a Big 12 championship, and that’s Baylor, Baylor alone. … They’re saying exactly the same thing we are.”
Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1) had convincing victories last month over Baylor and Texas. That assures the Cowboys a BCS berth if they win the Bedlam game, which should wrap up about the same time the Bears and Longhorns get started.
The Bears are looking for their first Big 12 title, and have never won 11 games in a season. They plan to keep their focus on trying to beat Texas, not what’s going to be happening about 350 miles away while getting ready to play.
“I’m not going to look for (that score),” Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty said. “It doesn’t matter what happens in Stillwater until after what happens in Waco.”
Baylor was anticipating the finale against Texas long before the season even began, knowing it would be Floyd Casey’s last game after 64 seasons before moving to a new campus stadium next year. Now the Bears have a chance to win a fourth league title there — they won outright Southwest Conference titles in 1974 and 1980, and were in a five-way tie when unbeaten Texas A&M was ineligible in 1994.
“We’re excited to be able to be in this situation,” linebacker Sam Holl said. “We wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Here are five things to know when Baylor and Texas play for the 103rd time:
MACK’S DRAMA: Even though Texas has recovered from going 1-2 in non-conference play to having a chance to win the Big 12, there is still plenty of speculation about coach Mack Brown’s future after this season. Brown’s running joke this week has been about him being the only coach in America playing for a conference title while also shrugging off speculation about whether he will be replaced. The school president reconfirmed his support of Brown, but there is a new athletic director who hasn’t made any direct comments publicly about the coach’s status.
STRONG RUNNING: Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron both are coming off 100-yard rushing games against Texas Tech, the second time this year Texas had two 100-yard runners in the same game. Brown and Johnathan Gray, now out for the season with an Achilles injury, did it against Oklahoma. Lache Seastrunk, the Big 12 leader with 109 yards rushing per game, and Glasco Martin both returned from injuries last week for Baylor after missing two games. The Bears have had three games with two 100-yard rushers. Seastrunk and Shock Linwood did it twice, and Linwood combined with fellow freshman Devin Chafin in one of the games the Bears’ top two runners missed.
DIXON’S HALF: Baylor senior safety Ahmad Dixon will have to sit out the first half after being ejected because of a targeting penalty in the second half against TCU last week. He can’t be on the sideline until after halftime, so will watch from the locker room. “I’ll get riled up just like I’m on the field,” Dixon said. Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett said Dixon is a good kid who sparks the Bears. “He’s very passionate about what he does,” Bennett said. “He has never been malicious.”
RARE RANKINGS: The final game in Floyd Casey Stadium’s 64 seasons will be only the 10th when Baylor and its opponent are both ranked. The Bears are 5-4 in the previous such matchups, including a 41-12 win over Oklahoma in their last home game Nov. 7. In 1980, one of their SWC championship seasons, the No. 11 Bears defeated No. 20 Texas 16-0 at home. Baylor has won its last five home games against Top 25 teams since the start of the 2011 season.
CHILLY CASE: Temperatures are expected to be in the mid- to upper 20s with some significant breezes for Saturday’s game. At least the freezing rain is supposed to clear out of the Waco area long before game time. “Whatever the weather is, still got to go play. Can’t really worry about it too much,” Texas running back Malcolm Brown said. “Just got to go out and do what you got to do.”
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