The Bears’ football season continues to unravel as they were easily defeated on the road Saturday by the Oklahoma Sooners, 45-24.
“I told the guys today, ‘Guys, we can be a really good football team, but we can’t make all the mistakes we made today’,” said head coach Jim Grobe. “I want to give Oklahoma all the credit, first and foremost, and I think they are a really good football team and belong in the top 10. So many things we did today were self-inflicted – things that we did to ourselves that we need to clean up. We’ve got to clean those things up if we want to win.”
If a third loss in three weeks wasn’t bad enough, Baylor lost senior quarterback Seth Russell for the year, as he sustained a fractured ankle on a quarterback keeper in the third quarter.
“He’s worked so hard to come back from the neck injury, and it’s not about losing the talent and production at quarterback, it’s more just like having one of your own children hurt,” Grobe said. “It breaks your heart to see a really, really good guy get hurt like that. The good news is that I think he’ll heal up just fine, but the bad news is that I don’t think he’ll get back this year.”
Russell rushed for 70 yards on 12 carries before his injury. He finished just 15 of 31, passing for 148 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown came late in the second quarter when he found junior wide receiver KD Cannon for a 24-yard touchdown that cut the Sooner lead to 24-10.
Russell was also responsible for all three Baylor turnovers. He was intercepted twice by senior linebacker Jordan Evans, including once in the end zone. On Baylor’s final drive of the first half, with the Bears moving deep into Sooner territory, Russell scrambled for a first down but was then hit and fumbled the ball back over to Oklahoma.
With Russell’s injury in the third quarter, Grobe turned control of his offense over to freshman quarterback Zach Smith. Smith only completed six of his 15 passes but threw for 144 yards, including a 62-yard score to Cannon, his second of the game. Cannon finished with 122 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Smith also scored on a one-yard touchdown run.
“I’d prepared for it all season, fall camp, knowing it might happen with the situation last year,” Smith said. “I’ve just prepped myself for that situation, so nerves were high as usual, but I’d prepped myself for it.”
The injury bug was a huge problem for the Bears, as they also lost sophomore running back Terence Williams to a knee injury in the first half, forcing the Bears to rely on redshirt freshman JaMychal Hasty as well as moving redshirt freshman inside wide receiver Blake Lynch to the backfield to handle some of the rushing load. Hasty finished with 75 yards rushing, while Lynch finished with 58.
As crippling as injuries were for Baylor on Saturday, the teams defense was also was a problem. Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett’s defense allowed redshirt junior quarterback Baker Mayfield and the Sooner offense to compile 566 yards of offense.
Mayfield pressed on the gas from the opening drive of the game, marching the Sooners down the field in 10 plays and capping off the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run. Later in the first quarter, he connected with redshirt senior wide receiver Dede Westbrook on a 29-yard touchdown pass.
Mayfield would hook up with Westbrook again in the third quarter, this time on a 40-yard scoring strike. Westbrook finished with 88 yards receiving and moved his touchdown total to 14 on the season. Mayfield finished with 300 yards passing through the air.
The Sooner ground attack carved up the Bears’ defense as well. Oklahoma ran for 266 yards on the ground, including 124 yards from redshirt sophomore Joe Mixon and 100 yards from junior running back Samaje Perine. Perine scored on runs of four yards and one yard, while Mixon scored on a 56-yard run, putting Oklahoma 42-24 midway through the fourth quarter.
“We knew it’d be a good football team, and it’s still a really good football team in the way they’ve got a lot of a really good, talented players,” said Sooner head coach Bob Stoops. “They do a good job coaching them. I knew we would have to play well to give ourselves a chance to win. I’m pleased with the way we played really across the board.”
Baylor dropped to 6-3 overall, 3-3 in Big 12 play, while Oklahoma improved to 8-2 overall, 7-0 in the conference.
Baylor will try to stop the bleeding as they return to McLane Stadium 11 a.m. Saturday in the 2016 home finale against the Kansas State Wildcats.