On the heels of a 41-16 trouncing of Texas Tech, the Longhorns enter their regular season final with a feeling of hope. A showdown against Baylor is all that stands in the way of a Big 12 championship for Texas and redemption for the senior class.
To say the 2010 recruiting class has underperformed is an understatement. Ranked third in the nation by Rivals.com, the highly touted class, featuring two five-star recruits and 19 four-star players, has compiled only a 30-19 record since the group’s freshman season.
Despite the era of mediocrity, the seniors have an opportunity to turn things around in a single game. A win over Baylor would guarantee Texas at least a share of the Big 12 title and a nine-win season, a feat Texas has not accomplished since 2009. The win would also be the Longhorns’ first road win over a top 10 team in eight years.
The game is far from a guarantee. The Bears lead the nation in points scored, are fourth in passing, 11th in rushing and have been held under 40 points just twice all season. Compare that to Texas which averages 33 points per game, and the mismatch is clear.
But the two teams are headed in opposite directions. While both had bounce-back victories after crushing losses the previous week, Texas’ was far more convincing than Baylor's. The Bears have been held to a total of 58 points their past two games, by far their lowest output in any span this season. Although the Bears’ rushing attack — averaging 269 yards a game — presents a huge challenge, the Longhorns have allowed only one 200-yard game in eight Big 12 games.
If the Longhorns steal a win in Waco, it will be thanks to senior leaders on both sides of the ball. Senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat has looked like an All-American this season, racking up 10 sacks in conference play, including three against Texas Tech. Senior wide receiver Mike Davis, who struggled much of the season, has emerged with 315 receiving yards and three touchdowns over the past three games. Texas will need big games from both of them.
If the Longhorns lose on Saturday, this senior class will become the first at Texas since 1989 to fall short of winning or sharing a division or conference championship. It will also be the first class not to play in a BCS bowl game under Mack Brown since 2000. Against the nation’s top offense and four years of mounting pressure, these seniors have one last chance.