With the way the rest of the Longhorns are playing, Case McCoy should have just enough to beat Baylor to close the season.
Case McCoy has the Texas Longhorns tied for the Big 12 lead and poised to steal the conference title if they win out. With each win, their matchup with the No. 5 Baylor Bears looms even larger as the game that will put McCoy's ability to the ultimate test.
In spite of their disastrous 1-2 conference start, the Longhorns control their destiny. If they win their last five games, the conference crown is theirs. Plain and simple.
Easier said than done. The road to the title goes through Waco, home to a Bears team that is tops in the conference in every major offensive category.
While the 'Horns are have held their last two opponents under 300 yards of offense, they are going to have to score a lot of points to upset Art Briles' squad. And if Case McCoy remains the starter, this is the game where his limits could be exposed.
The senior quarterback has played well in his last three starts, finding success downfield while allowing the run game to do most of the heavy lifting. Still, he is just 5-5 as a starter and has only won one game in which the opponent has scored 30 points or more.
|Opponent (Year)||Passing Yards||TD:Int||Result|
|Baylor (2011)||356||3:4||L 48-24|
|Kansas State (2012)||314||2:2||L 42-24|
|Ole Miss (2013)||196||1:0||L 44-23|
|Iowa State (2013)||244||1:0||W 31-30|
Not only is that an issue with Baylor averaging 63.9 per game, but we have already seen McCoy fall flat trying to keep up with Briles' offense. In their 2011 meeting, McCoy threw for a career-high 356 yards with a career-worst four picks in the 48-24 loss.
There is the possibility that Texas will get David Ash back by the time this game rolls around, though those chances seem to be shrinking on a weekly basis. The starter has been sidelined ever since suffering his second concussion of the season against Kansas State and has already been ruled out for next week's game against Kansas.
Perhaps this is why head coach Mack Brown decided to burn Tyrone Swoopes' redshirt against TCU. Kansas State's Daniel Sams ran for nearly 200 yards against Baylor, and Swoopes brings that type of athleticism to the position.
Even if Swoopes figures heavily into the game plan, McCoy will still lead the show because of his experience as a passer. At the most, the split would resemble how Florida mixed Tim Tebow and Chris Leak under center in 2006.
So is such combination, led by McCoy, enough to knock off the Bears? For two reasons, the answer is yes.
Baylor's only close game of the season came in a 35-25 win over Kansas State. Led by the aforementioned career day from Sams, the Wildcats dominated the time of possession by almost 20 minutes. Keep that offense off the field, and it can't hurt you.
The Longhorns have the tools to do the same thing to Baylor. They average over 200 rushing yards per game, and adding Swoopes to the mix should elevate that number by the end of the season.
What Texas also does very well is get to the quarterback, recording 18 sacks already this season. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty has been allowed to be a statue in the pocket, and the Longhorn defensive line is beginning to dominate with five sacks over the past two games.
Additionally, McCoy is being aided by one of the most underrated receiving corps in the country. Five different receivers have scored a touchdown, and every wideout with a catch has a reception of 45 yards or more. As a result, McCoy is much more of a downfield threat.
Sure the rest of the team will have to rise to the moment, but McCoy can win this game as long as he is not expected to go blow-for-blow with the Baylor offense. The 'Horns will have to control the clock and continue to play effective defense led by that ferocious pass rush.
Look at it this way; if this defense can go from allowing 550 rushing yards in Week 2 to allowing 79 in Week 9, why can't this team win the conference with McCoy under center?