By Cody Soto
No. 6 Baylor football made history for the second year in a row as it captured another Big 12 conference championship Saturday night with a 38-27 win over No. 9 Kansas State with a record crowd at McLane Stadium.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment by our football team,” head coach Art Briles said. “It’s so hard to repeat as a champion. It’s tough to do. It’s a big thrill and a great privilege, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
The Bears (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) topped the Wildcats with 584 offensive yards and 34 first downs for the school’s second title. Senior quarterback Bryce Petty was in the driver’s seat of the Baylor offense as he threw for 412 yards and was 34-for-40 for a touchdown and an interception.
“I’m so proud of every one of those guys in the locker room,” Petty said. “I couldn’t be happier than now with the guys I’m doing it with. I’m definitely humbled.”
Senior receiver Antwan Goodley led the wide receiver core with 117 yards and a score in the 38-27 win. Sophomore running back Shock Linwood had 91 yards and a touchdown, and freshman running back Johnny Jefferson scored twice with 46 yards for the Bears.
Baylor’s offensive effort started out hot, and with a rushing touchdown from Petty and Linwood, the Bears went up 14-0 early in the first quarter. Kansas State (9-3, 7-2 Big 12) did not go down without a fight though. Quarterback Jake Waters used a pass interference call by Baylor to march down the field, and Charles Jones scored a touchdown to cut the lead to seven.
“We had to be better at what we do than what they do,” Briles said. “We played a very good Kansas State team. They’re No. 9 in the country for a reason. We had to be better than how they play the game.”
Baylor quickly got back to work after that. Petty connected with four receivers to get into Wildcat territory, and Jefferson pounded in a two-yard run to put the Bears up 21-7 with 7:43 left in the first half.
“We came out fast, and we were energized,” Jefferson said. “We knew we had to jump on [Kansas State] quick because of how they play. We knew that when we had the ball, we had to score quick.”
KSU’s Waters hit Zach Trujillo for a 36-yard touchdown pass late in the quarter, and the lead went back to a score. Freshman kicker Chris Callahan nailed a 46-yard field goal to put the Bears in a 24-14 lead at halftime.
The Bears defense showed up big in the third quarter and limited the Kansas State offense to two field goals and allowed the offense to get to work. Petty threw a near-perfect pass to Goodley and used a 58-yard touchdown pass to lead 31-20 in the third quarter. Jefferson ran in the ball from the three-yard line, and it was 38-20 in favor of Baylor.
Kansas State put together a scoring drive early in the fourth quarter as Waters connected with receiver Tyler Lockett for six points. Baylor stalled on their next drive and was forced to punt, and the Kansas State offense tried to bring the game within a couple of points.
The stadium erupted after sophomore cornerback Xavien Howard picked off a pass from Waters to turn the ball over to Baylor. Linwood ran the ball late in the fourth quarter, and as time expired, students and fans rushed the field to celebrate a 38-27 victory and back-to-back titles.
“This puts another exclamation mark on the job that [Briles] has done here. It’s one thing to win a Big 12 championship, but to go back-to-back when everyone is gunning for you is a very rare accomplishment,” director of athletics Ian McCaw said. “I give tremendous credit to Coach Briles, the coaching staff and our football team.”
With College GameDay, a record-breaking crowd, a dynamic atmosphere and a conference title, the Bears will now go to sleep with something else on their mind.
Baylor awaits its fate as the College Football Playoff selection show will determine what bowl they will play in. The fifth straight bowl appearance is another milestone for the Bears. The selection show is set for 11:30 a.m. on ESPN.