Check one more item off of the "haven't done since X" list for Art Briles and the Baylor Bear football program. Not since 1939 had the Bears been victorious in Stillwater, OK against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. With their 45-35 victory Saturday night, that is no longer a blank spot on Briles' resume. Behind a dominant and steady running attack, and a 3rd string quarterback leading them, the Bears built a 38-14 lead in the 3rd quarter, and held onto it for the rest of the game.
In the first half, Jarrett Stidham had the Bears moving up and down the field, mostly with his arm. 258 yards passing in the first half, including a 58-yard touchdown to KD Cannon that put the Bears up 14-0. The quick start was short-lived, as the Cowboys would score 14 unanswered points in the next 6 minutes of action to tie it up. With 6:40 left in the first quarter, there were 28 combined points and not a sign of any defense to be found.
The Baylor defense would be the first to find its legs, forcing punts on every OSU possession for the rest of the first half. In total, the Bears would force 7 punts in a row by the OSU, while the Bears grew their lead to 24 points. The game took a big change on the Bears last scoring possession, as Jarrett Stidham scrambled on a 3rd and long and fell short. On the play, he twisted his ankle. He came back out for the next series, but his mobility was obviously limited. The Bears moved the ball well, until they asked Stidham to pass. He simply stood there, and could not move as Emmanuel Abgho came around the edge and forced the ball loose.
With the Baylor defense forcing a punt on OSU's first possession of the 3rd quarter, 3rd string quarterback Chris Johnson trotted out on the field with the offense. His first big play was a 3rd-and-8 at their own 22 yard line. Kendall Briles called a QB draw which netted 10 yards and a first down. He would then complete his first pass to Jay Lee, a 16-yard gain. Baylor would lean on the running game, until Johnson found Lee once again for a 39-yard touchdown.
After another OSU punt, Johnson would need just 5-plays to get the Bears back in the endzone, as he found a wide open KD Cannon for a 71-yard touchdown. The former wide receiver/tight end would finish with 3 total touchdowns, capping off the Bears scoring with a 4-yard scamper to put them up 17 with under 3 minutes to go. 138 yards passing on 5/10, with another 42 yards on the ground, Johnson did what the Bears needed him to do. He did have an ugly interception late in the 4th quarter to give the Cowboys a glimmer of hope, but outside of that, he more than did his job.
The even bigger story of this game though was the defense, which put together an excellent game. Holding the Cowboys to just 441 yards, including forcing a total of 6 three-and-outs for the Oklahoma State defense. They accrued 6 sacks, and complety shut down the Cowboys running game. As Baylor built its 24 point lead, the Cowboys punted the ball 7-times in a row, and you could hear boos from the Stillwater crowd as their offense trotted off the field time after time to give way to the punting unit.
Overall, it was a statement win for the Bears, proving that there might actually be some defense being played in Waco. Special teams even had some huge contributions (1-2 on field goals, pinning OSU inside their own 1-yard line, and solid returns most of the night). But the big story is Chris Johnson, and what he did in those first two drives of the second half to calm the storm, and put his team in position to win a huge game on the road.
Stats of the Game
- Oklahoma State rushed for 8 yards on 23 carries, averaging 0.3 yards per carry, while the Bears ran for 304 yards
- Baylor attempted a season high 73 rush attempts, passing the 56 rush attmepts against Lamar
- Baylor had 6 sacks in the game, a season high
- Baylor has won 4 straight games following a loss (no back-to-back losses since 2012) by an average of 17.0 points per game
- Baylor had 32 first downs, compared to 19 for OSU mainly due to their domination on 3rd down. Baylor was 14-22 on 3rd down, while OSU was just 5-15
- The Bears were -3 on turnovers for the game
Words of the Game
Offense - Angry
The Baylor offense made a statement tonight. Their offensive line, after being beaten up by the Oklahoma defensive front, came into this game angry. The Bears ran the ball. Then they ran it again. After catching their breathe, they ran it some more. 73 rushing attempts, for over 300 yards on the ground. Shock Linwood carried the load in the first half, rushing the ball 20 times for 91 yards. After he twisted his ankle near the end of the 1st half, Devin Chafin and Johnny Jefferson shared the load for most of the 3rd quarter. However, in the 4th, it was Devin Chafin's times to shine. Tough runs on 3rd down and 4th down. Whatever the Bears needed, Chafin gave it to him. Make a guy miss in the backfield and get a huge first down? Sure, why not. Run over a guy on 4th and 1 as you are hit in the backfield? Yup, that too.
The big plays from the passing game where there for most of the night, especially as Baylor ran out to a 38-14 lead. This was a team that came out in this game angry, and it showed early. The first play of the game was a shot down the field for 48 yards to Corey Coleman. They were the aggressor tonight, taking the fight to Oklahoma State. It started with Jarrett Stidham's arm, and it ended with Chris Johnson's legs. After jumping out to a 24-point lead, it was up to the running game to ice the game and get the Bears a big win. They did it, even though it got a little worrisome after a Chris Johnson interception gave OSU a shot.
Defense - Hit-tastic
That was as good as the Baylor defense has played all year. They flew to the ball all night, just suffocating the Oklahoma State running attack. 8 yards and just 0.3 yards per carry. Zero. Point. Three. That is all OSU could muster on the ground, as the Baylor defensive front abused the OSU offensive line. The secondary also had some terrific moments, led by Xavien Howard who had multiple pass break ups, including several touchdown saving ones. Baylor gave up some big plays, but you expect that against an offense as strong as Oklahoma States. The pass rush was effective, and even dominant at times, as OSU was forced to punt on 7 straight possession. Big plays were made throughout the defense, as Baylor got contributions from all three levels of the defense. The Bears hit the Cowboys in the mouth, and stodd over them for a bit. They took the Cowboys best shot in the first quarter, got back up, and dominated for the next 36 minutes of action.
The Cowboys would gain just 76 yards over a more than 32 minute span of game action. The score was tied at 14 when it started, and the Bears led by 24 before it was over. OSU would average just 2.92 yards per play over that time period which included five three-and-outs (with four of those in a row). It was as good as we have ever seen the Baylor defensewhich accumlated 6 sacks, 9 tackles for loss, and 4 passes broken up.
Tweets of the Game
Play of the Game
2nd and 12 at the Baylor 29
6:36 left in 3rd Quarter. The second drive of the "Chris Johnson era" had the Bears starting at their own 17-yard line. They had a big touchdown play to go up 17, and then the Baylor defense forced a punt to get the ball back. Baylor gained one first down on the legs of Corey Coleman and Shock Linwood, who also ran on this first down for a 2-yard loss. Facing 2nd and 12, Baylor lined up in a jumbo formation. They had freshman tight end Jordan Feuerbacher in the backfield. With Chris Johnson in shotgun, and Shock Linwood to his left, the Bears had 2 wide receivers out to the right and one to the far left of the field.
Jay Lee was lined up outside, with KD Cannon on the inside. OSU had a linebacker lined up across from Cannon, who easily ran past him to the second level of the defense. There a safety picked him up. Cannon had a perfect jab step inside, as to make the safety bite on a inside breaking our curl route. The safety took one step off balance, and that was all that Cannon needed. He hit the gas, and shot past the defender, catching the ball at the 31 yard line and coasting in for a 71 yard touchdown reception to put the Bears up 38-14.
The protection on the play was perfect, as the 5-man offensive line along with Linwood and Feuerbacher gave Johnson plenty of time to wait for Cannon to come open down the field. Three seconds of a perfect pocket were all the Bears needed, as not Cowboy came within 3 yards of Johnson as he stood tall in the pocket and hit Cannon with an absolute strike.
Players of the Game
Offense - Chris Johnson (5-10 passing, 138 yards, 42 rushing yards, 3 total touchdowns)
Any more questions about the Bears depth at the quarterback position. With Jarrett Stidham nursing a bruised back all week after the loss to Oklahoma, Chris Johnson had time in practice with the 1st team and used it to get ready. He needed it, as Stidham would not play after halftime. All Chris Johnson did was lead the Bears on 2 huge touchdown drives to build a insurmountable lead, and then finish the game off with one final touchdown. The game plan was simple for him, as Baylor used his legs to make plays when the offense was behind schedule. He made the right reads on his two long touchdown throws, and took care of the ball (except for that one awful interception late as the Bears were trying to run out the clock). With Stidham very questionable for TCU on Friday night, we might be seeing more of Johnson sooner than later.
Honorable Mention: KD Cannon (5 catches, 210 yards, 2 touchdowns), Shock Linwood (92 rushing yards, 1 TD)
Defense - Andrew Billings (2 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss)
What else can the best defensive tackle in the Big 12 do? You want him to rush the passer. 2.5 sacks credited to him, but you could give him credit for two others (out of the Bears 6 total) that were primarily caused by him just destroying the pocket and forcing Mason Rudolph to just take a sack. You want dominance in the running game? All Oklahoma State could do in 60 minutes of action was run the ball for 8 yards. EIGHT YARDS. Billings was a huge reason why, as we finally saw him back at almost full strength after an ankle injury against West Virginia. It was a dominant performance by a true star.
Honorable Mention: Travon Blanchard (7 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 sack), Xavien Howard (6 tackles, 2 pases broken up)
I sat here last week and said that there should be no talk of a Big 12 championship until after the Bears had beaten Oklahoma State, and definitly not arguing about CFP rankings and such. The time is now to start paying a little more attention. With their 45-35 victory, the Bears will move up further into the Top-10, and more than likely past Florida (needed overtime to beat a 2-8 Florida Atlantic), Oklahoma State, and possibly Ohio State (who lost to Michigan State). With a victory over TCU this Friday, and then a home win over Texas, the Bears could put themselves into a solid position once again. They would still need help from OSU to beat the Sooners to give Baylor the Big 12 title, but at least we can think about this now. Baylor threw another monkey off of their back with this win. No more news about 1939. No more fears of Stillwater. They exorcised those demons behind a dominant running attack and a 3rd string quarterback who made the big plays that he needed to.