Baylor’s undefeated season is over. And it ended with the collapse of a 28-3 lead.
No. 10 Oklahoma stormed back to win 34-31 after the Bears were up 25 points in the second quarter on Saturday night. The Sooners tied the game 31-31 in the fourth quarter and then got the game-winning points when Gabe Brkic hit a 31-yard field goal with fewer than two minutes left.
Baylor’s chance to tie the game ended when Nik Bonitto intercepted Charlie Brewer with 29 seconds left. It was a bit of redemption. The pick came just one play after Bonitto dropped an interception.
Baylor blitzed Oklahoma (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) in the first half thanks to two turnovers by Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts. And Hurts committed a third near the goal line in the second half when Oklahoma was attempting to cut Baylor’s 31-17 lead to seven.
Yet the comeback didn’t get derailed after that fumble thanks to an Oklahoma defense that held Baylor scoreless for the entirety of the second half.
The Sooners also forced two second-half turnovers. Those were the first two turnovers Oklahoma’s defense had forced since Texas Tech had a turnover against the Sooners on Sept. 28.
Oklahoma had looked like a legitimate title contender for the first half of the season on the heels of a defense that played far better than it had in 2018. But the defense regressed over the last few weeks. Kansas State put up 48 points on the Sooners in the last week of October and Iowa State scored 20-straight points in the fourth quarter in a 42-41 Oklahoma win in Week 11.
Baylor’s magic runs out
Baylor (9-1, 6-1) was one of five undefeated teams in college football entering Week 12. The Bears were also the lowest of those five teams in the College Football Playoff rankings because of their propensity for close wins. Five of Baylor’s nine wins have come by eight points or fewer and two of those games were in overtime.
The luck Baylor had through the first nine games of the season crashed spectacularly over the final 30 minutes of Saturday night’s game. Baylor ran just four plays in the third quarter as Oklahoma scored touchdowns on two of its first three drives to cut the margin from 21 to seven.
The Sooners tied the game with 5:25 left when Hurts found Brayden Willis in the end zone. Baylor promptly went three-and-out and punted for the third-straight drive and set up Brkic’s game-winning kick.
Baylor went up 28-3 with 11:02 left in the second quarter when Denzel Mims caught a nine-yard TD pass from Brewer. That score came after Hurts was intercepted by Grayland Arnold and he returned the pick 71 yards deep into Oklahoma territory.
Things never got better for Baylor after that Mims TD.
CeeDee Lamb missed the game
Star Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb didn’t play Saturday night for what Oklahoma said were “medical reasons.” Lamb got hit in the head on a punt return late in the game against Iowa State a week ago.
Lamb averages over 22 yards a catch and is Oklahoma’s most dynamic weapon. His absence put more pressure on Hurts, who looked like he was wilting in the first half with the turnovers.
But Hurts stayed composed after that fumble near the goal line. He ended up 30-of-42 passing for 297 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing 27 times for 114 yards. He was the only Oklahoma player to have more than 20 yards and only Lee Morris and Charleston Rambo had five or more catches. Hurts completed passes to 10 different receivers and Austin Stogner caught two of those touchdowns. Stogner entered the game with three catches all season.
Assessing the Big 12’s playoff chances
Baylor could have clinched a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game with a win over Oklahoma thanks to Texas’ loss at Iowa State earlier in the day. While that Longhorn loss means that Baylor and Oklahoma look set to meet in the title game, it’s still not a guarantee.
It’s also far from a guarantee the Big 12 will have a team in the College Football Playoff, either. Oklahoma will still be behind teams from the other four Power Five conferences in Tuesday’s rankings and will only jump Minnesota after the No. 8 Gophers lost to Iowa on Saturday.
The Sooners still need help. And they’re not getting it from the Big 12. Oklahoma State is the third-best team in the conference with an overall record of 7-3. Everyone else has four losses or more. With Houston and UCLA putting together seasons that are far from stellar, Oklahoma has Baylor and not much else as very good victories.
Another win over Baylor would certainly help Oklahoma’s case. But it very likely won’t be enough without losses by teams ahead of the Sooners in the standings based on Oklahoma’s current playoff ranking.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports
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