|Michael Thomas/Associated Press|
|Texas showed a new wrinkle by using defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat at middle linebacker Thursday.|
This Texas senior class is in danger of becoming the first in 24 years without winning at least a share of a conference championship. But with a chance to remedy that by winning their final two regular-season games, Longhorns veteran defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat and wide receiver Mike Davis took charge on senior night to down Texas Tech, 41-16, Thursday night.
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Jeffcoat had a career-high three sacks, as the Texas defense brought down Red Raiders quarterback Baker Mayfield a total of seven times. Long known as an explosive edge rusher, Jeffcoat spent time at middle linebacker on obvious passing downs and looked like a natural bringing pressure from a two-point stance. The intriguing wrinkle introduced by defensive coordinator Greg Robinson could give NFL scouts a tantalizing indication Jeffcoat (6-foot-5, 250 pounds) might be capable of succeeding as a 3-4 outside linebacker, as well as in the 4-3 defensive end role he has played for Texas.
Jackson, the son of long-time NFL defensive end Jim Jeffcoat, now has a conference-high 19 tackles for loss.
Ranked as the top senior wide receiver and No. 20 overall player on NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt's Hot 100 list, Davis had four receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns. His trademark speed was on display on a 47-yard touchdown reception late in the first quarter, coming across the field on a post route and getting behind two defenders. Davis also added a 43-yard catch on a pass from wide receiver Jaxon Shipley.
With a win at Baylor and an Oklahoma State loss to Oklahoma on Dec. 7, Texas would win the Big 12 championship and play in the Fiesta Bowl, its first BCS bowl since the 2010 BCS National Championship Game.
For Texas Tech, its season comes to an end with five consecutive losses to erase much of the goodwill from a 7-0 start under first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Mayfield struggled with the constant pressure, completing 24 of 44 passes for 237 yards and one interception before giving way to fellow freshman Davis Webb (7 of 8 for 65 yards and one touchdown). Tight end Jace Amaro had six receptions for 83 yards and one touchdown, while wide receiver Eric Ward added eight receptions for 88 yards.
The highlight of the night for Texas Tech came in the first quarter when punter Ryan Erxleben took off for a 51-yard touchdown run. It did not appear to be a designed fake for Erxleben, whose father Russell was an All-America punter and kicker at Texas (and first-round selection by the New Orleans Saints in the 1979 NFL Draft). Instead, Erxleben looked to pull up under pressure from the Texas punt coverage unit to scamper down the near sideline for Texas Tech's longest run of the season.
Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.