HOUSTON – Well, maybe I was wrong and not for the first time either. I thought the undefeated Baylor Bears would beat the Rice Owls with considerable room to spare last Saturday night and come back to Waco and get ready to put a real whipping on the visiting Iowa State, their next opponent. I mean, the Texas Longhorns had no trouble with Rice just the week before and is Baylor that far behind? But while Iowa State was clubbing Louisiana-Monroe last Saturday night, 72-20, the Bears were just squeezing past the Owls, 21-13.
So what gives? Is this part of somebody’s master plan? Did the Bears deliberately ease up on the throttle in order to persuade the odds-makers to make Iowa State the favorite in this upcoming game? I don’t think so.
So I guess all of us will just have to wait and see.
Meanwhile, Texas had to hang on to slip last a tough Oklahoma State team in Austin and Texas A&M did lose to Auburn right there on Kyle Field, so just about everybody had their problems. Everybody, that is, but SMU. The Mustangs upset a TCU team that had just move into a No. 25 ranking and they did it by outscoring the Frogs, 41-38. And in Fort Worth, at that. So hat’s off today to SMU coach Sonny Dykes, son of the ever-popular Spike Dykes, who died a couple of years ago.
As for the Baylor-Rice game, the Bears roared in front by scoring three touchdowns in the first half and rolling up 320 yards and making all of us to think this game is going to be easy. Maybe that’s what the Bears thought at halftime too. But the Owls made them change their minds in the game’s final 30 minutes. Personally, I kept wishing the clock would hurry up and tick off the final minutes.
Baylor coach Matt Rhule had an appropriate message for all of us. “I said to my guys don’t ever apologize for a win. In 2017, we would have been jumping for joy after this win. There are going to be games where you just have to battle. In a lot of ways, Rice deserved to win this game.”
As a matter of fact, a lot of guys in the press box thought the Owls played much better than they did in losing to Texas the week before. But future events and the scoreboard will tell all of us whether that is true or not.
Baylor coach Rhule thought the Baylor’s defensive front played great. “The D-line was physical and we didn’t allow any explosive pass plays. One of the most dangerous teams is one coming of a big loss, and I thought our defense played well,” he said.
Baylor’s star middle linebacker Clay Johnston said the players had been warned to expect a tough game. “I’m kind of thankful for it,” he said. “Im glad we had a game where the ones (that starters) could play into the fourth quarter.I see 100 percent value in this.
Johnston led the Bears’ defensive effort, being a part of 13 tackles, including two for loss. Chris Miller, James Lynch and James Lockhart also made some key defensive plays,
And Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer declared the defense won the game for the Bears. “They played outstanding. We’ve just got to help them out. It starts with me.I’ll get everything corrected so we can have a good week of practice moving forward.
Charlie had some impressive numbers against the Owls himself, hitting 20 of 27 passes for 303 yards and a touchdown and also rushing for 58 yards and another touchdown. But the Bears finished with a puny 124 yards on the ground overall.
The Bears got their touchdowns from Josh Fleeks on a 6-yard run in the first quarter, a 50-yard pass from Brewer to Chris Platt in the second quarter and Brewer’s 25-yard run also in the second quarter. Redshirt freshman John Mayers' kick was accurate after each Baylor score.
The Owls scored their points on quarterback Tom Stewart’s 21-yard run and two field goals kicked by Matt Harrison, the first a 28-yarder in the second quarter and the second a 24-yarder in the third stanza.
Baylor led in first downs 20 to Rice’s 17; in yards rushing, 124 to Rice’s 64; and in passing yardage, 303 to the Owls’ 178.
Brewer led the Bears in rushing, 12 carries for 58 yards; and JaMycal Hasty had 39 yards on 7 carries. For Rice, Booker paced the Owls with 29 yards on 12 carries.
In passing, Brewer again was tops with 303 yards by completing 20 of 27 passes. Stewart paced the Owls’ passing attack by completing 5 of 8 passes for 50 yards.
As usual, Denzel Mims was the pace-setter, catching 6 passes for 102 yards, but Platt caught 5 for 85 yards and Tyquan Thornton (a fleet sophomore from Miami, Fla.) caught just 3 for 70 yards. Rice’s receiving was led by Rozner who caught 7 balls for 100 yards.