Video by Elisabeth Tharp | Broadcast Reporter, Story by Ben Everett | Sports Writer
Baylor fell to No. 3 Oklahoma 49-41 Saturday night at McLane Stadium despite a big game from sophomore receiver Denzel Mims.
The Bears (0-4, 0-1) got a career-high 192 yards and three touchdowns from Mims, but a lack of running game and a porous defense cost them against the explosive Sooners (4-0, 1-0) in their Big 12 Conference opener.
Oklahoma freshman running back Trey Sermon punished the Baylor defense in the fourth quarter, scoring both of his touchdowns in the final frame while amassing 157 yards for the game.
Baylor head coach Matt Rhule said the Sooners simply made plays to win the game when it mattered most.
“As all great teams do,” Rhule said. “They made the final plays down the stretch and found a way to win the football game.”
The Sooners finished with 351 total rushing yards to Baylor’s 60.
Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley said he was extremely impressed with Baylor’s effort throughout the game.
“Coach Rhule is doing a tremendous job,” Riley said. “Give them a lot of credit tonight. Thought their kids played really, really well.”
Oklahoma started the game with a bang. Senior kick returner Jeff Badet returned the opening kickoff 64 yards to set up Oklahoma’s offense at the Baylor 35-yard line.
On third down in the Baylor red zone, senior quarterback Baker Mayfield completed a 24-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Mark Andrews to give the Sooners an early 7-0 lead.
On the next Oklahoma possession, Mayfield led the Sooners 75 yards downfield in just three plays, capped off by a 52-yard touchdown pass to senior fullback Dimitri Flowers to give Oklahoma a 14-0 advantage.
The Bears responded with a 13-play, 58-yard drive to reach field goal range, but sophomore kicker Connor Martin couldn’t connect on a 35-yarder.
After forcing an Oklahoma punt, sophomore punt returner Tony Nicholson returned it 42 yards to the Oklahoma 32-yard line, but the Bears received the ball at the 19-yard line after a late hit penalty was called on Sooner sophomore cornerback Parnell Motley.
On the first play of the drive, Smith completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Mims to make it a 14-7 game.
On the ensuing kickoff, Badet fumbled and recovered at the 1-yard line, but sophomore running back Abdul Adams exploded for a 99-yard rushing touchdown to give the Sooners a 21-7 lead.
The Bears marched down the field again, and this time Martin was able to convert on a 32-yard field goal to cut the Oklahoma lead to 21-10 in the second quarter.
Mayfield continued to connect with his receivers downfield, resulting in a five-play, 78-yard scoring drive that saw Flowers punch it in on a 3-yard rush to give Oklahoma a 28-10 lead.
But Baylor refused to go away. In the final minute of the first half, Smith completed a pass to Mims, who broke away from his defender and ran it in for the 71-yard score to make it a 28-17 lead.
To start the second half, Smith connected with junior receiver Chris Platt for a 72-yard touchdown to make it a 28-23 game before Smith found Nicholson in the end zone on a two-point conversion to cut the lead to just three at 28-25.
Baylor had a chance to take the lead but freshman running back John Lovett could not hang on to a pass from Smith in the red zone on a third down. Martin then connected on a 41-yard field goal to tie the game at 28 apiece with eight minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Baylor defense, looking for a stop with the Oklahoma offense driving with ease, found one when senior safety Taion Sells forced Sooner sophomore receiver Marquise Brown into a fumble that was recovered by sophomore safety Chris Miller.
The Baylor offense stalled out again near the Oklahoma red zone, but Martin came up big once again, knocking in a 46-yard field goal to lift Baylor to its first lead of the game, 31-28.
Mayfield silenced the crowd after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called on him by tossing a 48-yard touchdown pass to Badet to give the Sooners a 35-31 advantage at the end of the third quarter.
Oklahoma added on to the lead with a 34-yard touchdown run by freshman running back Trey Sermon to take a 42-31 lead with 10 minutes remaining.
Sermon continued to punish the Baylor defense, rushing for a 60-yard gain to give the Sooners another red zone possession where he punched it in from nine yards to extend the Sooner lead to 49-31 with 9 minutes remaining.
A bobbled catch along the sideline by Mims kept a Baylor drive alive, but the offense stalled out at the 18-yard line, resulting in a 36-yard field goal by Martin to make it a 49-34 game.
After a punt from Oklahoma, Smith found Mims once again in the back of the end zone on a six-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 49-41 with less than two minutes remaining.
Senior linebacker Taylor Young recovered Baylor’s onside kick, giving the Bears’ offense 1:40 to attempt to tie the game.
With 1:24 remaining, Smith was sacked by senior defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and fumbled the ball, giving the Sooners the ball to end the game.
Despite falling short, Young said the team is improving quickly and will continue to battle each week.
“We still have a long way to go,” Young said. “But our team’s getting better each week. So hopefully things just keep on blowing up.”
The Bears look to get a win when they face Kansas State at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 30 in Manhattan, Kan.