AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas coach Charlie Strong insists that he can live with the “noise,” the criticism of his program and speculation about his job security.
He would rather his players not have to endure the week-to-week referendum games.
The Longhorns earned another temporary break from the hot-seat talk when Trent Domingue kicked a 39-yard field goal with 46 seconds remaining and Texas upset No. 8 Baylor 35-34 on Saturday to hand the Bears their first loss.
“I will be fine,” Strong said. “Don’t worry about me. But these young kids, it bothers them.”
Some Longhorns said they block out the criticism of Strong and the team. Defensive end Breckyn Hager is not one of them.
“Oh, it’s gotten to me,” Hager said. “I take it very personally.”
For the second straight season, Strong and the Longhorns (4-4, 2-3 Big 12) beat Baylor (6-1, 3-1). This time Texas also dealt a blow to the Big 12’s hopes of putting a team in the College Football Playoff.
Both the conference’s remaining unbeaten teams lost Saturday, with No. 10 West Virginia going down at Oklahoma State .
D’Onta Foreman rushed for a career best 250 yards and two touchdowns for the Longhorns, who scored with 7:03 left on 7-yard pass from Shane Buechele to Andrew Beck to make it 34-32. The Bears stuffed Tyrone Swoopes trying to run for a 2-point conversion.
Domingue, who transferred this season from LSU, missed a critical field goal during a loss at Kansas State last week. He had three PATs blocked by Oklahoma State earlier in the season.
“He was walking the sidelines saying ‘give me one chance, give me one chance,'” Strong said. “You just knew he was going to hit that.”
Domingue, a senior, said this was his first game-winning kick in college.
“I was extremely nervous,” Domingue said. “As a kicker, you are not supposed to think ‘don’t miss.’ But I was thinking ‘don’t miss.’ “
Seth Russell had 364 yards passing and running and accounted for three touchdowns for Baylor. Russell, a senior, rushed for 138 yards, second-most of his career. The Bears gained 624 yards, including 398 rushing, their most ever against Texas.
“We knew the quarterback run was going to hurt them,” said Russell, 14-1 as Baylor’s starting quarterback. “But it didn’t hurt them enough.”
Foreman rushed for 100 yards in the first quarter, reaching the 100-yard mark for the ninth straight game. He scored twice in the half, on runs of 37 and 9 yards, and Texas held a 23-21 lead at the break.
Foreman’s twin brother, wide receiver Armanti, caught four passes for 142 yards and a touchdown.
“This is stuff we dream about,” D’Onta Foreman said. “This is stuff we talk about all the time.”
Baylor: The Bears played a weak nonconference schedule and have faced only one team with a winning record so far. Getting into the playoff is going to be very tough even if they win out, but they have two games left against ranked teams (at No. 10 West Virginia and No. 16 Oklahoma).
Texas: Was this a much-needed breakthrough for Texas? The Longhorns avoided falling to 3-5 for the third straight season under Strong. He is now 15-18, including 11-12 in the Big 12, during his three seasons. Check back next week.
Baylor will take a plunge.
Grayland Arnold, a freshman starting cornerback for Baylor, was taken off the field on a cart after suffering a neck injury while trying to make a tackle on a kickoff in the first quarter. Scans and an MRI at a local hospital were negative, according to a Baylor spokesman. Arnold was in the locker room after the game.
Texas defensive back Kris Boyd avoided what looked like it could have been a targeting foul when he tackled Russell in the third quarter. Officials made the ruling after a replay review.
Baylor: The Bears play host to TCU on Saturday.
Texas: The Longhorns are at Texas Tech on Saturday.