By Daniel Hill
After seven games without a true test on the gridiron, the Baylor Bears were supposed to be challenged by the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners, the first ranked opponent for Baylor this season. The No. 6 Bears answered the call and more by thumping Oklahoma 41-12 in front of 50,537 fans decked out in black at Floyd Casey Stadium on Thursday night.
“[The blackout crowd] was something I hadn’t seen before,” Baylor head coach Art Briles said. “It was very emotional and very humbling at the same time. When you’ve got support, you can get things going a little bit. It certainly made a difference in the football game.”
After a 3-0 Oklahoma lead in a rough first quarter filled with immense intensity between two ranked teams, the Bears asserted themselves by finishing the game in dominant fashion and outscoring the Sooners 38-12 in the final three quarters of the game. In a game where the Bears needed to make a national statement to advance in the BCS standings, the Bears left no doubt with a 29-point victory over the No. 10 team in the land.
“Keep doubting,” senior safety Ahmad Dixon said. “We’ll earn your respect sooner or later. If you want to keep doubting after that, then that’s your loss. We’re a team that just focuses on us.”
“We definitely had adversity there and our guys did a great job of moving on to the next play,” senior quarterback Bryce Petty said. “There were a couple of distractions for us before the game. There was a lot of hype and the fans were wonderful tonight. We owe a lot to them. They were loud. Going into this game, it was kind of our first time to have a true test as far as the whole hype of the situation for a big game like that.”
Before the game even started, the energy-infused crowd at Floyd Casey Stadium was ready for a battle royal between two Big 12 juggernauts. In the pregame warm-ups, there was even some pushing and shoving between the two teams.
“We were ready to get after those guys,” Dixon said. “We came into the locker room after all that stuff happened in pre-game and said ‘take no prisoners’.”
On the Bears’ opening drive, the offense started with some nervous jitters as Petty could not connect on a pass on the initial drive, and Baylor was forced to punt.
“Offensively, we sputtered a little bit,” Briles said. “We just weren’t hitting on all cylinders. I thought special teams were good.”
Defensively, the Bears held Oklahoma to a three-and-out on the first possession thanks to senior defensive end Chris McAllister staying home on a reverse to make a tackle for a three-yard loss on first down. Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell tossed an incomplete pass on third down to force OU to punt.
“I thought defensively we were extremely potent all through the game,” Briles said. “The entire game I thought we played tremendously well.”
On Baylor’s second drive, the ground game consistently moved the chains and Petty found senior receiver Clay Fuller for a 28-yard gain. Nearing the red zone, Baylor faced fourth and one, head coach Art Briles did not think twice about attempting the field goal and relied on senior running back Glasco Martin to power forward for first down.
Senior placekicker Aaron Jones knocked down a 29-yard field goal attempt to give Baylor the first points of the game and a 3-0 lead.
On the Sooners second possession, on third and one, Dixon made a tackle for a loss to force another OU punt.
For Baylor’s third possession, Petty found sophomore wide receiver Jay Lee on a third down play for a first down by the sideline, but Lee stepped out of bounds and then bought the ball in bounds for illegal touching. Baylor lost a down on the penalty and had to punt.
In a bizarre sequence of events on OU’s following drive, senior cornerback K.J. Morton was given a targeting penalty after he leveled an OU receiver and Dixon was assessed two penalties for taking his helmet off and for unsportsmanlike conduct to give Oklahoma the ball at the 7-yard line.
Facing a fourth and goal from the one-yard line, Morton stuffed Bell in the backfield to end OU’s scoring threat.
Backed up on in its own territory on the one-yard line, Petty dropped back to pass and was sacked by Oklahoma in the end zone for a safety to make it a 3-2 game.
“We definitely had adversity there and our guys did a great job of moving on to the next play,” Petty said. “There were a couple of distractions for us before the game.”
On junior punter Spencer Roth’s punt following the safety, Oklahoma returned the ball all the way to the Baylor 12-yard line. Baylor’s defense held Oklahoma to a field goal making it 5-3 Oklahoma.
Redshirt freshman receiver Corey Coleman sparked the Baylor attack with a burst of speed on the ensuing kickoff to give the Bears the ball on the Oklahoma 45-yard line.
The all-time scoring leader in Baylor history, placekicker Aaron Jones, attempted a 52-yard field goal but narrowly missed to the left.
Oklahoma missed on a 48-yard field goal and from there, Baylor seized the momentum of the contest by rattling off 21 unanswered points before half time.
With junior running back Lache Seastrunk banged up, redshirt freshman utility back Shock Linwood stepped in and delivered in the backfield. Linwood added energy to the Baylor attack with an immediate 20-yard gain, and then Petty found junior receiver Antwan Goodley on a slant route on the following play. Oklahoma committed a personal foul with a late hit on Petty to give Baylor 15 more yards and a first down.
Petty carried the ball for 20 yards and then added an exclamation mark on the drive with a touchdown run to give Baylor a 10-5 lead.
“That’s what a team does,” Dixon said. “We told the offense, when we saw they were having a slow start, we told them to take your time. We’ll keep getting stops. Take your time because once you get rolling, you’re rolling. There’s no stopping you then. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. You’ll get rolling.”
Following the Bears’ first touchdown, The Baylor Line removed their yellow Line jerseys to fully complete the BlackOUt at a sold-out Floyd Casey Stadium.
Oklahoma again punted and Petty found senior receiver Levi Norwood on the following drive for 39 yards on a slant route to put Baylor in scoring position. Petty found Norwood again on a 12-yard inside route to put the ball at the one-yard line. Petty finished the drive again with another rushing touchdown to increase Baylor’s lead to 17-5.
Senior linebacker Eddie Lackey dropped into zone coverage and Bell tried to fire a pass to a receiver crossing the middle. Lackey read the play brilliantly and anticipated the throw to make a sliding interception to give Baylor a short field.
Following two straight incomplete passes from Petty and facing third down and 10 from the 24-yard line, Petty threw a laser between to defenders to find Goodley in the end zone. The score came just 13 seconds before the half and gave Baylor a 24-5 lead going into the locker room.
Baylor’s defense had overpowered Oklahoma’s rushing attack and held the Sooners to 33 rushes on 17 attempts in the first half. The Sooners had 65 yards of passing in the half.
Baylor had 229 total yards on 49 offensive plays with 103 rushing yards and 126 passing yards. As the second quarter progressed, Baylor’s passing game found holes in Oklahoma’s secondary.
Oklahoma received the ball to start the third quarter and went three-and-out after senior defensive end Terrance Lloyd sacked Bell for a one-yard loss.
Baylor kept the momentum going when Petty rushed for 10 yards to the Oklahoma 17-yard line. Petty appeared to injure his leg on the play and he struggled to move back in to position to start the next play. While playing under obvious pain, Petty limped in the pocket and tossed a 17-yard touchdown strike down the right sideline to an open Norwood. The score continued Baylor’s run of 28 unanswered points and bolstered Baylor’s lead to 31-5.
The Sooners’ offense found the end zone for the first time in the contest with 3:20 to play in the third quarter. On fourth and two, Bell faked a running play and then looked to his left to find running back Roy Finch uncovered in the flat for an easy touchdown pass and cut into Baylor’s lead, 31-12.
With a 19-point lead, Baylor played ball control offense with a heavy dose of the running game. With Seastrunk and Martin injured and out of the game, Linwood stepped up with 23 rushes for 184 yards to be the game’s leading rusher. Linwood helped put Baylor within striking distance of another field goal, and with 1:17 left in the third quarter, Jones tacked on a 40-yard field goal, 34-12.
“I love Shock,” Petty said. “He could be starting anywhere in the Big 12, except he’s stuck behind two phenomenal running backs in Lache and Glasco. What’s just so great about him is he’s just so positive. He’s contagious.”
In an effort to leave no doubt, the Baylor offense kept relentlessly pursuing points. After a missed OU field goal and a 28-yard scamper from Linwood, Baylor capitalized when Petty struck gold once more with Goodley for a score. From the 25-yard line, Petty looked to his right and gave Goodley a chance for a jump ball. Goodley had position on his defender and elevated to snag the ball at its high point for a score, 41-12.
With 2:11 to play, Linwood rushed 11 yards for a first down and Baylor settled in victory formation to ice the game away for the second Baylor victory over Oklahoma all-time, and the second victory over OU in three years.
Petty finished the day 13-of-26 passing for 204 yards and three touchdowns. Petty also rushed for 61 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns.
“We’re just talented, man,” Petty said. “It is a very special team. Defense played outstanding tonight, one of the best games I think I’ve ever seen them play. My hat is off to them because they keep us in the game with momentum. Momentum is huge in this game. Anytime that we can get a stop on defense and then swing it back over to us, helps us out a lot.”
Goodley led the way receiving with six catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns. Norwood was consistent in moving the chains with four grabs for 78 yards and a touchdown. Fuller hauled in three passes for 46 yards.
“We’ve got guys that have done a lot of things, weathered the storms, been through the valleys and the peaks and it’s not their first rodeo,” Briles said. “From that standpoint, we’re gaining a lot of confidence. We’ve got a mature football team. This team has done a lot. Look at how we finished last year. We faced four teams in a row, all of them ranked. Baylor beat all of them. We have won a couple of big games and this was another one of them tonight.”
The No. 6 Baylor Bears take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Nov. 16 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.