No. 16 Baylor wins 31-24 as Texas again blows big lead

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WACO, Texas – Baylor running back Abram Smith took a quick pitch left, reversed field after spinning away from a defender and scampered for a touchdown.

That play was quite appropriate since the 16th-ranked Bears and Texas are going in opposite directions.

Smith ran for 113 yards with that nifty 32-yard score three plays after an ill-advised fake punt by Texas, following Bears tight end Ben Sims‘ go-ahead 1-yard TD run earlier in the fourth quarter of a 31-24 win Saturday. Baylor was the third team in a row to overcome a double-digit deficit to beat the Longhorns.

“We got some adversity. It didn’t start off the way we wanted it to. We knew we had to finish strong,” Smith said. “We had to come out and be the team we knew we were.”

The handoff to the sweeping Sims for a score with 12:48 left put the Bears (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) back ahead for the first time since the first quarter.

“I think getting punched in the face by a really good Texas team, I think was anticipated,” Baylor coach Dave Aranda said. “So it was good that we were able to get our hands back up and throw some punches of our own. I’m proud of this team.”

Texas (4-4, 2-3) was coming off its open date, which followed consecutive losses to No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 15 Oklahoma State in which the Longhorns led by at least two touchdowns before halftime both times.

“That was a tough one to swallow,” first-year Texas coach Sarkisian said. “Any time you lose a game like that, with a little bit of a trend that we’ve had now for three consecutive weeks, that’s tough. It’s tough on our locker room.”

Big 12 rushing leader Bijan Robinson was limited to 43 yards on 17 carries, well below his 132 yards a game average with a 2.5 yard-per-carry that was the lowest in his career. But he did put the Longhorns up 21-10 with his 1-yard TD run on fourth down early in the second half when he followed a pair of blocking nose tackles with a combined weight of 643 yards into the end zone.

After the Longhorns got the ball with 2:07 left and no timeouts, Casey Thompson had four consecutive incompletions. He was heavily pressured on two of the throws.

“You never want to lose. They all suck,” Robinson said. “We work really hard throughout the week to get wins. But some things just don’t go our way.”

QUICK STRIKES

Thompson threw two TDs in the first quarter, 10 yards to Joshua Moore and a 63-yarder when he hit Xavier Worthy in stride after the true freshman raced passed sixth-year safety Jarion McVea for a 14-10 lead. Baylor used a little trickery in between for its first score when a reverse handoff to receiver Tyquan Thornton, a former prep quarterback who threw a 6-yard TD to a wide-open R.J. Sneed.

DICKER THE KICKER

With his 27-yard field goal and three extra points, Cameron Dicker set the Longhorns school record for career points by a kicker at 362, four more than Dusty Mangum had from 2001-04. Ricky Williams is the overall scoring leader with 452 points from 1995-98.

But Dicker passed on one kick he probably should have made. He is also the punter, and on the 4th-and-11 fake in the fourth quarter ran for only 2 yards when he had the option to run, pass or kick.

“If I saw the look again, I would probably check out of it and probably punt the ball,” Sarkisian said. “But when you fake punts and do those kinds of things, you’re rolling the dice.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Texas: The Longhorns have been outscored 69-23 in the fourth quarter over their past six games. This loss pretty much eliminates any chance for them to make the Big 12 championship game in Sarkisan’s first season. Texas could end up just fighting to break even during the regular season.

“It’s not about what’s down the road. It’s about what’s right in front of us,” Sarkisian said. “And what’s right in front of us is Iowa State.”

Baylor: The Bears were already bowl eligibility, but wrapped up October with three straight wins at home after a 24-14 loss at Oklahoma State to start the month. Baylor had only one penalty, which came after none in its previous game against BYU.

UP NEXT

Texas: The Longhorns are on the road again at No. 22 Iowa State.

Baylor: The Bears have their first road game in five weeks, going about 90 miles north on Interstate 35 to play at TCU for the 117th time. That is the only team Baylor has played more than Texas.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”

Pac-12 looking stronger at top after early-season losses

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When Oregon got throttled by top-ranked Georgia and Utah lost at Florida, it appeared as though the Pac-12 was headed toward another College Football Playoff miss.

One week into the season and two of the conference’s top teams had already failed big early tests.

Flash forward three weeks and it seems the Pac-12 might be in good shape after all.

The Ducks and Utes bounced back with big wins and the top of the conference looks strong, with four teams in the top 15 for the first time since 2016.

It’s still early, but the Pac-12 is putting itself in position to get a team through to the CFP for the first time since Washington in 2016-17.

A look at how the top of the Pac-12 is stacking up headed into the first weekend of October:

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

The No. 6 Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) seem to have quickly returned to glory in their first season under Lincoln Riley. The former Oklahoma coach brought quarterback Caleb Williams with him to Southern California and they have thrived through the first four games.

Williams has thrown for 1,054 yards and nine touchdowns, adding 100 yards and two more scores rushing. USC’s defense has been opportunistic, leading the nation with 11 interceptions while tied for the lead with 14 takeaways.

The Trojans survived a scare against scrappy Oregon State over the weekend to start 4-0 for the first time since 2012. USC has to play at Utah on Oct. 15, but avoids Washington and Oregon this season.

UTAH

The 12th-ranked Utes opened the season with a tough road loss at The Swamp in Florida, but have won three straight lopsided games.

Outside of a costly interception late against the Gators, quarterback Cam Rising has been sharp, throwing for 954 yards and 10 TDs. Utah (3-1, 1-0) has a physical defense and is third in the FBS, allowing 132.8 yards passing per game.

The Utes also have a veteran team that won the Pac-12 championship last season. The bad news: tight end Brant Kuithe, their leading receiver, is out for the season with a knee injury.

Utah plays Oregon State this weekend and has tough games against USC and Oregon still on the schedule.

OREGON

The Ducks’ playoff chances took an immediate hit with a 49-3 loss to reigning national champion Georgia in their opener.

No. 13 Oregon (3-1, 1-0) bounced back with a decisive win over a good BYU team and outlasted previously undefeated Washington State 44-41 last week.

The Ducks were no match for the Bulldogs in any aspect – few teams are – but have averaged 51.6 points the past three games. Oregon’s biggest weakness is its pass defense. The Ducks are allowing 72.5% of passes to be completed, third worst in the country.

Oregon’s biggest tests left in the season will come in back to back games against Washington and Utah.

WASHINGTON

The Huskies have made a quick turnaround in their first season under coach Kalen DeBoer.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been superb now that he’s healthy, throwing for an FBS-best 1,388 yards and 12 TDs with one interception. No. 15 Washington (4-0, 1-0) picked up a solid home win against Michigan State and has 15 sacks this season, including eight against Stanford last week.

The Huskies play their first road game at undefeated UCLA on Saturday and have to face Oregon on Nov. 12.

UCLA

After winning at Colorado for the first time since 2014 last Saturday, the Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) have their longest winning streak since winning the first eight games in 2005.

UCLA had a hard time getting past South Alabama and opened its Pac-12 schedule with a win against the struggling Buffaloes.

The Bruins will find out how good they are over the next three weeks, a brutal stretch that includes home games against Washington and Utah before heading to Eugene to play the Ducks on Oct. 22.