WACO, Texas — Texas had a lead and a chance to bury Robert Griffin's Heisman Trophy chances. Everything came undone in a flurry of turnovers by the quarterback who had been the Longhorns' hero just a week ago.'
Case McCoy passed for three first half-half touchdowns but also had five of Texas' six turnovers in a 48-24 loss to No. 19 Baylor on Saturday.
While Griffin was backing up his Heisman campaign with two touchdowns passing and two more running in a statement game on national television, McCoy came unglued after leading Texas to a 21-14 lead in the second quarter.
Still up 21-17, McCoy threw his first interception and only a diving effort at the goal line by the quarterback kept K.J. Morton from scoring. It didn't matter, as Griffin ran it in two plays later for a 24-21 lead.
"We had them on the run," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "We were in great shape, then we gave them momentum going into the half."
Later, after Baylor took a 31-24 lead in the third, McCoy threw another interception that Sam Holl returned 59 yards to set up another Griffin touchdown run. The Longhorns stuck with McCoy instead of going with David Ash, but the sophomore had two more interceptions. Tailback Cody Johnson also killed a promising drive with a fumble deep inside Baylor territory.
"We kept fighting," said McCoy, who passed for 356 yards. "We kept getting down, we kept getting down. Then we would throw an interception or a fumble. We've got to execute better."
Holl's big return seemed to take the life out of Texas, Baylor linebacker Elliot Coffey said.
"You look over at Texas and they are hanging their heads," Coffey said. "After that, it's like they don't trust their quarterback to throw any more."
McCoy had been the hero when his scramble on the final drive set up the winning field goal against Texas A&M on Thanksgiving night. He hadn't thrown an interception this season until Saturday.
McCoy was in just his fifth career start. Griffin was maybe putting the wraps on a college career that lifted Baylor to its best football in a generation. Griffin has yet to say if he will leave after his junior season for the NFL.
Baylor (9-3, 6-3 Big 12) got its first nine-win season since 1986, will be going to a bowl game for consecutive years for the first time since the early 1990s, and for the first time is considered among the Big 12's best, not the league doormat.
"Not too many years ago, they said Baylor would never be 9-3, would never beat Texas, would never beat Oklahoma," Griffin said. "Why not (win the Heisman)?"
Griffin has accounted for 45 touchdowns passing and running this season to go with 3,998 yards passing. He is one of only three players in major college history with 10,000 yards passing and 2,000 rushing in a career.
"We felt like if we came out and got a victory, we should win the Heisman. It's not just about me, it's about Baylor nation," Griffin said. "I don't know if you can say we deserve it, but it would definitely be warranted."
Griffin's first touchdown pass against Texas covered 59 yards to Kendall Wright on the second play of the game. His 39-yard strike to Terrance Williams put the exclamation point on his big game.
Texas linebacker Keenan Robinson called it a Heisman-worthy performance.
"Tonight he showed that and played great against a great defense," Robinson said.
Texas came in with the best defense in the Big 12, a unit that had been a dominating group over the last six weeks. It simply couldn't keep up with one of the country's best offenses and the rash of turnovers.
Until Saturday, Texas hadn't given up a passing touchdown longer than 20 yards. That streak ended when Griffin hit Wright just seconds into the game.
"We gave up some big plays, which is something we haven't been doing," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "You're not going to win football games when you turn the ball over (six) times."
Texas (7-5, 4-5 Big 12) will return to a bowl for the first time since playing for the national championship in 2009. Texas went 5-7 last season in its first losing season since 1997.
"We knew this was a year where we'd have to grab and hold on and try to build and start over," Brown said.