For the first time in 17 years, the Texas Longhorns entered their Dec. 5, 2015, contest against the Baylor Bears as more than 20-point underdogs. The Longhorns were closing out a bowl-less regular season, while the Bears had the Big 12 title in their grasp.
Despite Texas being left for dead, it managed to pull off one of its biggest upsets in program history. The Longhorns jumped out to a big halftime lead and held on for a 23-17 upset as 20.5-point road underdogs.
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Baylor Were Big Favorites Even With QB Injuries
Despite losing two of its previous three contests, Baylor was still in position to win the Big 12 and secure a spot in the Sugar Bowl.
The Bears struggles were mostly due to injuries at quarterback. After injuries to Seth Russell and Jarrett Stidham, third-string signal-caller Chris Johnson came into the Texas contest as the starter, making just his second start.
The fact that Baylor was down to its third quarterback and still 20.5-point favorites shows how poorly bookmakers thought of Texas. The Longhorns had a 4-7 record heading into the game and were just 3-8 against the spread. They were especially bad as underdogs that season, going 1-6 against the spread prior to the Baylor game.
Still, 20.5 points seemed like an awfully high number for Baylor to cover.
Swopes Came Up Big for Texas
Tyrone Swopes started at quarterback for Texas for just the second time that season and led the Longhorns to a 20-0 halftime lead. The included a passing and rushing touchdown.
When Johnson went down with a concussion in the first quarter, Baylor had to turn to junior receiver Lynx Hawthorne at quarterback. Hawthorne hadn’t taken snaps at quarterback in a game since he was in high school.
Hawthorne scored a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to help the Bears claw back to within three points at 20-17. However, he went 10-for-22 passing for 64 yards and two interceptions, which wasn’t enough for Baylor to complete the comeback.
Swopes finished the game with 151 passing yards and another 52 on the ground. Caleb Bruiett’s lone catch of the game for the Longhorns was a 57-yard touchdown reception.
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Baylor Managed to Finish on a High Note
Baylor ended up falling just five spots in the AP Poll to No. 17 and earning a berth in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Fla. Going up against No. 10 North Carolina, the Bears won a high-scoring 49-38 affair.
Baylor finished the year ranked No. 13.
The momentum from Texas’ dramatic season-ending victory didn’t carry over into the next season. The Longhorns went 5-7 in 2016, ensuring their third straight losing season. Head coach Charlie Strong was fired after that season.
AP Photo/LM Otero