October 9, 2013

Big 12 Insider: Texas seniors seek to avoid historic sweep in Dallas

The Longhorns are in danger of becoming the first class to go 0-4 in the Red River Rivalry since 2004.

They arrived during an era marked by conference championships and BCS title game appearances, with plans to carve out a comparable niche in Texas football history.

But for members of the Longhorns’ senior class, the primary historic quest in Saturday’s game against No. 12 Oklahoma is simple: Avoid a career sweep in the Red River Rivalry.

No group of seniors from either school has experienced four consecutive losses in this series since 2004, when the guys from Texas settled for the golden doughnut — not the Golden Hat — as their parting gift in Dallas. The last time a senior contingent from OU felt the push of a broom from their Texas counterparts occurred in 1992.

So it’s far from a regular occurrence in a series Texas leads 59-43-5. In fact, it comes with an onus that drives Texas’ seniors to capitalize on their final opportunity to win in the Cotton Bowl, where they will arrive as two-touchdown underdogs.

“That’s something that you’re known for when you graduate from here,” Texas quarterback Case McCoy said. “People ask you questions and one of those questions is always, ‘What was your record against OU?’ That becomes a pride issue for a lot of people. For us seniors, it’s something we haven’t done. We came here to play in this game. And this is a game that we need to go win.”

Another senior, defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, is equally motivated to alter the 0-3 mark of the 2010 signing class in Red River Rivalry matchups.

“It’s definitely a big game. The seniors, we haven’t won in Dallas yet,” Jeffcoat said. “That’s tough to think about. It’s very hard to believe, especially with the talent we’ve had. It’s frustrating. We need to get that changed around.”

Talk, of course, is cheap. Talk does not end losing streaks. Actions do. That is the message coach Mack Brown has stressed to his players, borrowing from the wisdom of legendary Longhorns’ coach Darrell Royal.

“I asked coach Royal one time, ‘When do streaks end?’ And he said, ‘When you’re tired enough of losing and you’re good enough to fix it,’” Brown said.

Is this group tired of hearing about being dominated by OU, particularly in the wake of consecutive losses by margins of 55-17 and 63-21?

“You’d have to ask them,” Brown said. “They have to hear it and they answer it a lot. I think they’re motivated enough. They know they haven’t been to a BCS game, they know they haven’t won a conference championship and they know they haven’t beaten OU. And those are three things here that are important to us.”

For any of those goals to be met in 2013, Texas (3-2, 2-0) cannot afford another loss to Oklahoma (5-0, 2-0) in the Cotton Bowl. A fast start is imperative, players agreed, after watching OU control the momentum from the outset the past two seasons.

“This senior class wants to go out with a bang,” said receiver Mike Davis, a Dallas native making his final college appearance in his hometown. “I’m pumped up for this game. It’s in my back yard. There’s nothing like this game and I’m looking forward to the ‘W.’ We’ll see how it turns out Saturday.”

If it does not turn out Texas’ way, members of the Longhorns’ senior class will, indeed, have made history. But for a reason they never will want to discuss.


Baylor’s first road trip

From a statistical standpoint, No. 15 Baylor (4-0, 1-0) ranks among the nation’s most dominant teams heading into Saturday’s game at Kansas State (2-3, 0-2). The Bears lead the nation in total offense (779.5 yards per game) and scoring (70.5 avg.). They rank No. 14 in scoring defense, allowing 16.3 points per game, and have a turnover ratio of plus-3.

But they have yet to play a road game this season. Baylor also is 0-4 when playing in Manhattan, Kan., including a 36-35 loss in 2011. That is why coach Art Briles and players consider this a pivotal road trip in efforts to build on their fast start in a season capable of veering off in multiple directions.

“I still think the identity hasn’t been written yet. It’s too early,” Briles said, summarizing the strengths of his team. “I think we have some guys that play with a lot of intensity and toughness. But we’ve got to see where we’re at before we judge ourselves.”

Safety Ahmad Dixon said the Bears’ defense considers itself under the microscope in big games because the offense is viewed as the strength of the team.

“We know we’ve got to make a statement this year as far as our defense goes,” Dixon said. “We’re ready for us to get the national respect we deserve. The offense is going to carry their load. We’ve just got to carry our load.”


Streak breaker: One ugly streak will be broken at Saturday’s TCU-Kansas game in Fort Worth. The Jayhawks (2-2, 0-1) have lost 22 consecutive conference games, dating to the 2010 season. TCU (2-3, 0-2) is winless at home in Big 12 play since joining the league last season (0-4 in Fort Worth).

Many happy returns: Big 12 teams have combined for 17 defensive or special-teams touchdowns through the first six weeks of the season (2.8 per week). The breakdown: nine interception returns, three kickoff returns, two fumble returns, a punt return, a blocked field goal return and a muffed punt recovery in the end zone.

Rushing streak: Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk has topped the 100-yard rushing mark in eight consecutive games, the nation’s longest active streak. Seastrunk, who ranks second nationally in rushing yards per game (147.3), has averaged 10.1 yards per carry this season.

Burch’s picks

No. 12 Oklahoma 38, Texas 17 (Saturday, 11 a.m., WFAA/Ch. 8): Sooners send loud, clear message about the gap that exists between participants in Red River Rivalry.

TCU 34, Kansas 14 (Saturday, 11 a.m., FSSW): Horned Frogs play the right opponent for a feel-good fix to a struggling offense.

No. 20 Texas Tech 35, Iowa State 27 (Saturday, 11 a.m., FS1): Scrappy Cyclones make their presence felt in Lubbock before fading in the fourth quarter.

No. 15 Baylor 52, Kansas State 28 (Saturday, 2:30 p.m., KDFW/Ch. 4): Bears’ speed, versatility overwhelm the Wildcats in Baylor’s first road game of the season.

Last week: 5-0

Season: 31-8

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