Dave Campbell discusses Baylor's big win over Oklahoma State.
"Sweet is revenge," wrote Lord Byron back in the early 1800s, and on a very wet last Saturday night at Baylor's gorgeous new McLane Stadium, the explosive Baylor Bears showed up with what I would call a "mini" sweet tooth.
I say it was a mini sweet tooth because the hard rain that fell during the game, especially during the second half, made Baylor's 49-28 victory over visiting Oklahoma State a little less impressive than what it was shaping up to be in the first few minutes of play.
With only 2 minutes and 36 seconds having ticked off the scoreboard clock in the first quarter, Baylor had already scored two touchdowns. The game was going to be a rout. Baylor was going to get revenge for that 49-17 blot the Cowboys had put on what had been Baylor's 2013 perfect record when they met in Stillwater last November.
Eager to see if the Bears could get their revenge were 47,179 hardy souls (all those Baylor fans anyway) who had ignored the rain and the just-far-enough-away lightning. Of course, they also wanted to see if the Bears could protect their No. 6 rating in both of the national polls.
Well, they could and they did. As a matter of fact, they moved ahead of TCU in the AP poll to No. 5 (but the latest coaches poll still has them No. 6). But remember, both of those two teams still have two meaningful games to play (probably the most pivotal are Baylor in Waco against K-State and TCU in Austin against Texas) but a slip up by either team at this stage would be deadly.
Also remember, if both teams win out, Baylor beat TCU when they met on the field of play, 61-58. The committee that is going to decide which four teams play for the 2014 national championship will not overlook that score. You can bet on it.
As noted, Baylor got off to an explosive start against OSU and then things changed. The Bears found themselves facing a freshman quarterback they had never seen or prepared for and probably had never heard of. His name is Mason Rudolph, he is a strong-armed 6-foot-4, 217-pounder who led his Rock Hill, South Carolina high school team to a state championship. And in his debut in 2014 college football play in Waco, he gave the Cowboys, their coach (Mike Gundy) and their full-throated fans something they must have felt was in vanishing supply. He gave them hope.
It might be too late for this season. OSU only has one regular season game left to play: the annual "Bedlam Game," this year in Norman on Dec. 6. Oklahoma won the 2013 Bedlam Game in Stillwater in a big upset, and in doing so enabled Baylor to win its first Big XII football championship when it defeated Texas that night.
They can win another crown this season if the cards fall just right. That would be two crowns in a row for Baylor, and that would be unprecedented.
But back to Mason Rudolph for a moment. He completed 13-of-25 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns on that rain-filled Saturday night, and he had Baylor fans both at the game and at home watching on TV growing increasingly nervous until BU sophomore safety Orion Stewart intercepted a Rudolph pass at the Baylor 35 with 5:02 left to play.
"A huge interception," BU coach Art Briles termed it.
Stewart returned the interception 23 yards to the OSU 42 and the Bears and their gutsy QB Bryce Petty took it from there. Petty threw to KD Cannon for 13 yards and then called on sophomore running back Devin Chafin three times to put the Bears on the OSU 21.
And then he did the rest himself, faking a handoff and running through a big hole in the middle of the OSU defensive front. Baylor's offensive line opened the hole and it was like the parting of the red sea, and Petty was not about to not make the most of it.
Last season, he recalled in a post-game statement, he tripped inside the OSU 5-yard line and the Bears didn't score and never recovered.
"Redemption," Petty said. "Every one of those steps, it was 'don't trip, don't trip, don't trip.' "
And as Stewart later explained his fateful interception: "I just jumped it and he threw it right to me."
Of course, much had happened before that Stewart interception and Petty's dash for the put-away touchdown.
Baylor had torched the OSU pass defense right from the start, Petty throwing a 65-yard touchdown pass to Jay Lee on the second play of the game, and Petty hitting Corey Coleman on the third play of Baylor's second possession. Baylor was ahead, 14-0, and they still had 12:24 left in the first quarter.
"When it wasn't raining early in the game, we felt we had to get it while we could," Briles pointed out. And friends and neighbors, it couldn't get any quicker or easier than that.
But it didn't stay that way.
At the 10:20 mark of the first quarter, OSU's Ramon Richards intercepted a Petty pass at the Baylor 43. Rudolph put some life into the Cowboy offense by completing a 34-yard pass, and with 7:32 left in the first quarter the Cowboys were back in the game thanks to a 6-play, 43-yard drive.
Baylor answered by scoring again, Chafin plowing the last two yards of a 19-play, 79-yard drive that was predominately on the ground featuring Johnny Jefferson, Shock Linwood and Chafin.
So at the end of the first quarter Baylor was ahead, 21-7, and Bear fans were feeling calm and collected (although by then the Bears had been guilty of FOUR false starts). And when halftime arrived they were still feeling the same way although OSU had trimmed what had been a 28-7 margin with 4:18 left by using more Rudolph passes to amp up a 10-play, 75-yard drive to score again.
The Bears lengthened their lead in the third quarter with Linwood's power running to score a touchdown, and then they scored again early in the fourth quarter with an 11-play, 70-yard drive to make it a 42-21 game. Chafin scored that one on a short run.
But OSU wouldn't give up. Rudolph completed a 68-yard pass to freshman James Washington (a Stamford product) to make it a 42-21 game, and then with 10:44 left in the game the Cowboys scored again, going 70 yards in 5 plays to make it a 42-28 game. Speedy JUCO transfer Tyreek Hill's running had a lot to do with that.
Then when Rudolph completed a 32-yard pass to carry the Cowboys down to the Baylor 41 with plenty of time left in the game, Baylor fans started crossing their fingers. But Orion Stewart's interception eased their fears and Petty's 21-yard TD run boosted both Baylor's score and the Bear fans' morale. So all's well that ends well, and now the Bears will start getting ready for Texas Tech at AT&T Stadium this Saturday in Arlington.
By then Baylor fans can only hope that they have reduced their earlier habit of drawing too many penalties, something that played a role in derailing them against West Virginia. Against Oklahoma State they were flagged 12 times and it cost them 68 yards and interrupted the flow of their play both on offense and defense,
Petty finished 18-of-29 in the aerial department and two TDs, and of course he also rushed five times for a net of 23 yards and a touchdown. Linwood rushed for a net of 113 yards and a score, Chafin for 106 yards and three TDs. Jefferson for 26 yards, and receivers Antwan Goodley and Corey Coleman turned running backs and contributed strongly (Goodley for 26 yards on three carries, Coleman for 24 on three trips).
Levi Norwood was the busiest receiver (five catches for 43 yards) but Coleman, Lee and Cannon were the most productive (Coleman 75 yards on three catches, Lee 73 on three and Cannon 30 on three). Spencer Roth's punting also was important as he often pinned the Cowboys deep with his punts (four for an average of 47.5 yards).
Stewart, Taylor Young, Bryce Hager, Shawn Oakman and Collin Brence were the defensive leaders. The first three named had seven stops apiece, Hager and Brence had six (Brence also had an interception that set up Baylor's fourth TD). And Oakman had two tackles for loss and Andrew Billings had three (one of them, a fourth-and-one, forced an OSU punt).
For his exceptional performance, the 6-foot-9, 280-pound Oakman, only a junior, was named Big XII defensive Player of the Week. Briles praised that decision, and also commended Brence on particular. Brence, 6-foot, 210, was not recruited heavily. Actually, he came to Baylor as a walk-on. "He's earned the scholarship (he was awarded one before the 2014 season started) this year. He's really a great inspiration," said Briles.
As for the upcoming Texas Tech game, "Last year they jumped on us quick. They were ahead 21-7 and it was still 21-20 at the end of the first quarter," Briles remembered. "Until the last couple of years they've been kind of a thorn in our side."
As for this year, as defending Big XII champions, "This year we're used to getting everybody's best shot, their haymakers."
And the victory over OSU? "We're where we need to be," the Bear's head man said. "Last Saturday night we took a big step."