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Closing Floyd Casey Stadium: Baylor active in title week

Posted December 3, 2013

Posted: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 12:01 am | Updated: 2:50 am, Tue Dec 3, 2013. By JOHN WERNER jwerner@wacotrib.com In the final game at Floyd Casey Stadium, No. 9 Baylor will play for its first Big 12 championship. Baylor coach Art Briles couldn’t have dreamed up a more perfect scenario for Saturday’s showdown against No. 23 Texas. “I’m not going to say I planned it that way, but it’s worked out nicely,” Briles said. “You couldn’t ask for a better scenario other than winning the game, and that’s the bottom line. That’s what our focus will be as far as us closing the stadium, which will be a tremendous thrill and benefit.” Without a championship game, the Big 12 showed a lot of foresight in making its schedule for the final day of the regular season. Oklahoma State hosts Oklahoma at 11 a.m. in Stillwater before Baylor hosts Texas at 2:30 p.m. The Bears will move into their new on-campus stadium next fall after 64 seasons at Floyd Casey Stadium. Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas are tied for the Big 12 lead at 7-1. With a win over the Sooners, the Cowboys will earn the Big 12’s automatic BCS bowl bid to the Fiesta Bowl since they have beaten Baylor and Texas. If the Cowboys lose, the Baylor-Texas winner will go to the Fiesta Bowl. Even if Oklahoma State wins, the Baylor-Texas winner will earn a Big 12 co-championship. “Whoever made out the schedule last spring is looking pretty smart,” Briles said. “I don’t know who did it, but they’re looking good on this one.” Both Briles and Texas coach Mack Brown will try not to watch the scoreboard as Oklahoma State and Oklahoma play earlier Saturday in Stillwater. But it’s going to be pretty hard to keep blinders on. “It’s an exciting weekend for the Big 12 because there are really two championship games Saturday,” Brown said. “It shows how much parity is in this league right now. I think you ignore (the Oklahoma State-Oklahoma game) as much as you can because we have to worry about beating a really good Baylor team.” The Bears rebounded from a 49-17 loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater two weeks ago with a tough 41-38 win over TCU on Saturday in Fort Worth to improve to 10-1 overall. Baylor’s defense was the difference as freshman safety Orion Stewart returned an interception for an 82-yard touchdown and linebacker Eddie Lackey returned an interception for a 54-yard score. Defensive tackle Beau Blackshear set up another score when he recovered a fumble at the 1, and the defense sealed the win when Sam Holl deflected a Casey Pachall pass and Terrell Burt intercepted it in the end zone with 11 seconds remaining. The defense pulled through even with cornerback K.J. Morton out with an abdominal strain and linebacker Bryce Hager out for the second straight game with a groin injury. Briles said there’s a good chance Morton will play against Texas, but Hager appears to be questionable. Safety Ahmad Dixon will have to sit out the first half against Texas after he was ejected for targeting against TCU’s Trevone Boykin on a hit in the third quarter. But Briles said the team will still feel Dixon’s leadership. “Ahmad has been a tremendous leader for us on the field and off the field in his four years here,” Briles said. “He’ll be in the dressing room with us and do everything with us Friday night. If he can’t go on the field in the first half Saturday, he’ll be there at halftime and jogging out with us in the second half.” While Baylor’s defense delivered big plays all day against the Horned Frogs, the offense struggled through one of its worst days of the season. The Bears lead the nation with 635.1 yards and 55.4 points per game, but picked up a season-low 370 yards against a strong TCU defense. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty has missed deep threat Tevin Reese, who suffered a dislocated wrist on Nov. 7 against Oklahoma. However, Baylor’s running game got a boost with the return of Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin from injuries. Seastrunk rushed for 94 yards on 24 carries while Martin picked up 69 yards on 17 carries, and helped Baylor run down the clock at a crucial time in the fourth quarter. “Those guys are warriors, though I don’t think either was 100 percent,” Briles said. “We kind of overused Lache a little bit. In hindsight, we probably should have stopped him at 17 carries because it’s hard to get into game shape. Glasco gave us some much needed yardage down the stretch. They’ll both be a lot closer to 100 percent this week.” The Bears will face a Texas squad that has rebounded from a 1-2 nonconference record to win seven of eight Big 12 games. Quarterback Case McCoy has done a solid job directing the offense while Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron have led the running game after Johnathan Gray went out for the season with an Achilles tendon injury on Nov. 9 against West Virginia. After Greg Robinson replaced Manny Diaz as defensive coordinator, the Longhorns have allowed just 355.4 yards and 23.1 points per game in Big 12 play. “The biggest thing is the coaches did a great job fighting together and staying focused, and the players bought into it,” Brown said. “They weren’t pleased with the first three weeks, and we had to change and pick it up and we’ve been able to do it. They’re smart kids with a tremendous amount of pride and have pulled together really well ever since.” BEAR FACTS: Baylor junior quarterback Bryce Petty, who ranks second nationally in passing efficiency, said Monday he will return for his senior year. . . . Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery is among five assistant coaches who are finalists for the Broyles Award.