STILLWATER, OKLA. – The last time the Baylor Bears won in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Franklin D. Roosevelt was in office, Ted Williams was cracking into the major leagues as a rookie and the first Batman comic was being released. 1939 was a long time ago, and the Bears finally broke the curse the Oklahoma State Cowboys hung over them.
“It was a hard-fought game against a really good football team,” said head coach Art Briles. “It’s an extremely tough place to win with the environment. I’m proud of our team. They really wanted to come in here and prove that they were a good football team.”
The No. 10 Bears defeated the No. 6 Cowboys 38-28, ending OSU’s undefeated season. While victory is indeed sweet, winning sometimes comes at a cost.
With freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham leaving the game after halftime with numerous amounts of injuries, backup redshirt sophomore Chris Johnson stepped in.
“When [the coaches] told me I had to go in, I felt like I was ready. I have to give credit to all my teammates coming into the locker room at halftime just telling me make sure you’re ready because we might need you tonight,” said Johnson.
Johnson was indeed needed tonight and he played excellent in his relief duty. He completed 5 of 10 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns, also running for another. Although Johnson did throw an interception while scrambling, he looked very, very capable in his first significant snaps of his career.
Stidham performed well during his time, completing 12 of 21 for 258 yards and a score. Stidham was only sacked once during the first half but suffered two more injuries to go along with his ailing back. Stidham’s hand apparently was injured early in the game, along with his right ankle.
“Honestly, he’s not very good. It’s his right ankle and his hand. He got the hand hit real early in the game. It’s really puffy and he can’t grip the ball, but they don’t think there’s a break in there,” said Briles.
Offensively, both quarterbacks did find success when throwing in KD Cannon’s direction. The sophomore had his most explosive game of the season against the Cowboys’ secondary, hauling in 5 catches for 210 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“It felt real good [to have a big game]. With Corey on the other side getting double and triple teamed, it opened up a lot of stuff for me and Jay Lee,” said Cannon.
For the second straight game, Coleman was held in check for most of the game. While Coleman started off hot with a 48-yard reception on Baylor’s first drive, he could not sustain that success. He would end the game with just 5 catches for 77 yards.
Defensively, the Bears played their best game of season by far. The Baylor defense held the Cowboys to only 433 yards total. On the ground Baylor was tremendous, allowing the Cowboys just to gain eight rushing yards on the night.
The Bears also got to starting quarterback Mason Rudolph on numerous occasions. The Bears registered six sacks, dominating the Cowboys in the trenches after only getting a single sack last week against the Oklahoma Sooners.
With injuries on the defensive line, the Bears shifted away from their usual 4-2-5 scheme to a 3-3-5 look. With Beau Blackshear and Byron Bonds both out with injuries, the Bears played extremely well with limited numbers on defense.
“It gives us more options, but it gives the linebackers pretty free if the guards want to double team me…so it makes a lot of stuff happen,” said junior defensive tackle Andrew Billings.
The Bears also forced seven straight Cowboy punts on defense, the most so far all season.
“We did our job and we helped our team. Every week we are supposed to play like this so [it shows] the potential that we do have and finally shows our maturity,” said sophomore linebacker Taylor Young of the Bears’ defensive performance.
Baylor is rounding into shape at the right time. With just two more games on the regular season schedule, the Bears’ hot play can carry them to a third straight New Year’s Day bowl game.
“We can see where it stops, where the end is. You just fight through every play and then we’ll get to the end and have three or four weeks off in December where we can get ready for our bowl game. We’ve got to battle hard for another fourteen days,” said Briles.
The Bears will surely be looking ahead to next week’s contest, a game everyone in the nation has had circled. The Bears travel to TCU for the rematch of the season next Friday and again, all eyes will be on the Bears. Survival is the name of the game in College Football and the Bears are still very much alive.