AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s the beginning of the end for the Texas Longhorns and its Big 12 Conference opponents.
The No. 3 Longhorns begin their final Big 12 schedule on Saturday in Waco against Baylor, and if anyone associated with the team hasn’t fully “embraced the hate” yet, now seems like a good time to start as the Texas/Big 12 farewell tour leaves the station.
“We just have to know what we’re walking into,” Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “It’s been well documented that, as of right now, it’s the last time we’ll play Baylor. We can’t be fearful of the environment we’re walking into.”
While relatively safe inside DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium and at the Cotton Bowl for the Red River Rivalry, when Texas goes on the road, expect more than Horns Down signals from opposing fans and teams.
Texas gets both Kansas schools at home, so that’s a plus, and leaves the Lone Star State only once in conference play Nov. 18 when they go to Ames to face Iowa State. That’s the tail end of a back-to-back road slate with a trip to Fort Worth the week before.
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Even with Houston being a Big 12 rookie, fans are bound to get a little rowdy when the Horns show up Oct. 21.
“We have to embrace it,” Sarkisian said. “With all these historical games coming to an end, now more than ever are there Horns Down, the ‘Who cares about Texas?’ and let’s take one more shot at them. We can’t be a punching bag and we have to be in attack mode.”
In his Monday press conference, Baylor head coach Dave Aranda said during the offseason, he was repeatedly told to “just win one game, please.” It doesn’t take much to figure out who that game’s opponent is.
“That has been brought up to me multiple times,” Aranda said. “We’re going to talk about the history of the rivalry and some of the games in the past because that’s important with something like that.”
The schools have played each other 112 times since first meeting in 1901.
Would the Longhorns be willing to play any of the old Big 12 foes in nonconference games after the move to the SEC? That’s tricky, Sarkisian said, and he doesn’t really have much of a say in it. He said he recognizes the rivalries with the Texas schools and how rooted in tradition they are and said “it would be great for the State of Texas” if they continued somehow, but at the same time, he’s only worried about the 12 teams on his schedule every year.
“Some of that is obviously out of my control with what we do there,” he said. “I think one of the challenges would be if you play one of them, then the others are upset. There’s that trickle-down effect.”
He pointed out that with the move to the SEC the rivalry with Texas A&M is renewed, so there’s a bright side in the regard.
Baylor QB Blake Shapen out against Longhorns
Coming off a 30-7 win over FCS Long Island University, the Bears will once again be without starting quarterback Blake Shapen. He suffered a knee injury in the team’s 42-31 loss to Texas State in the season opener, and he tried to play through it, but eventually backup Sawyer Robertson took over.
Shapen sat out against No. 11 Utah in Week 2 along with last week against the Sharks, and Aranda said Monday he’s still on the mend.
“Blake is still probably a week out,” Aranda said. “I’m not anticipating or expecting Blake in this game.”
Robertson will again be the signal-caller for the Bears this week, and in two-plus games of action this year, he’s 28-for-62 passing for 444 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions.