Texas once again relishes its role as an underdog

Posted Monday, Dec. 02, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information Texas at Baylor 2:30 p.m. Saturday KDFW/Ch. 4

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The last time they were such big underdogs, the Texas Longhorns were getting ready to play Oklahoma.

They wouldn’t have it any other way.

Texas is a 14-point underdog against Baylor just like the Longhorns were heading into the Red River Rivalry, in which they upset the Sooners 36-20.

“We like it,” senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said. “Everybody has us written off. Nobody thinks we’re good enough to play with Baylor. It’s fun to us. We like to go out and prove people wrong.”

Texas (8-3, 7-1 Big 12) clinches at least a share of the Big 12 title with a victory over Baylor (10-1, 7-1) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in the final game Floyd Casey Stadium.

But Texas can win the conference outright if it beats Baylor and Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State. They kick off at 11 a.m. Saturday in Stillwater.

Don’t expect the Longhorns to get caught scoreboard watching, though.

“That game is not important unless we win,” Jeffcoat said. “That’s all we’re going to be paying attention to. If we get a win, we’ll start paying attention to [scoreboard watching]. We have to win first.”

With an FBS-best 19 returning starters from a team that won nine games last year, Texas had national title aspirations entering this season. Those hopes were quickly dashed by a 1-2 start that resulted in the firing of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz — the first midseason coaching change made by Mack Brown during his 16-year tenure at Texas.

But a six-game winning streak that included an upset victory over Oklahoma and a win as a slight underdog at TCU put Texas back in the conference title race before the Longhorns fell to Oklahoma State 38-13, the only time Texas lost as an underdog this year.

“I love that they put us as an underdog,” senior quarterback Case McCoy said. “It only gives you one more thing to go out and prove. As a football player and as a man, all you ask for is an opportunity to go out and prove yourself and prove everyone wrong.”

Baylor won its first nine games by an average of 44 points, climbing as high as No. 3 in the AP poll, tying a school record. The Bears lead the nation in scoring (55.4 points per game) and total offense (634.4 yards per game).

“We’ve beaten the odds once or twice,” senior guard Mason Walters said. “I don’t think we’ll forget to show up on Saturday.”

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