Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Baylor resolute to come back after first loss
By Jake Trotter
Baylor's offense was a buzzsaw until it ran into Oklahoma State last week.
In 2011, Oklahoma State entered late November undefeated with a shot at the national title. Then, the Cowboys suffered their first loss after an inexplicable performance at Iowa State, knocking them out of the national championship race.
Two years later, Baylor finds itself in similar waters after getting decimated by many of those same Cowboys over the weekend. The Bears are also hoping they can respond the very same way those Cowboys did two years ago.
“We hit a bump in the road,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “But shoot, we’ve still got a lot of things out there.”
Baylor went into Stillwater, Okla., with a chance to climb as high as third in the BCS standings. But after quarterback Bryce Petty tripped at the Oklahoma State 1-yard line in the first quarter and running back Shock Linwood fumbled two plays later, the Bears were never the same. The Cowboys jumped to a 35-3 lead before coasting to a 49-17 victory, handing Baylor its first loss of the season in emphatic fashion.
Bryce Petty and Baylor still have a lot to play for in their final two regular-season games.
“[Sunday] we had a pretty tough time, because we knew how close we were, as far as postseason stuff,” Petty said. “At the same time, this is a mature team. We have to put that stuff in the rearview mirror now. We can’t let it affect us here these last two games.”
This Saturday, the Bears travel to TCU before playing the final game at Floyd Casey Stadium on Dec. 7 against Texas. The Bears will be heavy favorites in both games. But they’ll also have to play better than they did in Stillwater.
Baylor allowed Oklahoma State’s offense to average more than eight yards per play, almost double what the Bears had surrendered in any game this season.
The Baylor offense, which entered averaging a national-best 61 points per game, couldn’t get the ground game rolling or complete passes against man coverage downfield -- its two calling cards all season. Injuries to running backs Lache Seastrunk (groin) and Glasco Martin (knee), left tackle Spencer Drango (back) and wideout Tevin Reese (wrist) finally took their toll as the Oklahoma State defense completely shut down the Bears for three quarters.
“We lost badly. Tremendously,” said guard Cyril Richardson, who was named an Outland Trophy finalist Monday. “There weren’t too many positives in that game. We just have to learn from the experience and come back stronger from it.”
Nobody knew how Oklahoma State would come back after that stunning defeat at Ames two seasons ago. But instead of allowing Iowa State to beat them twice, the Cowboys bounced back with their finest performance of the season, routing No. 14 Oklahoma 44-10 to clinch the school’s first Big 12 title and first BCS bowl berth.
Like the Cowboys did, Baylor still has a lot of things out there, as Briles put it.
“If we finish with just one loss, in three weeks no one will care about it,” Petty said. “We still have a lot to play for. That’s how we have to treat it.”
The Bears could still earn a share of their first Big 12 title, or even win it outright if the Sooners can upset Oklahoma State in two weeks. The Bears could also still advance to their first BCS bowl game.
But at the worst, Baylor could set a school record for victory in a season, go to its first Cotton Bowl in 32 years and finish in the top 10 of the polls for the first time since 1951.
“We’re fine; we really are,” Briles said. “I mean, what choice do you have? My goodness, we played a good football team, and they made the plays when they needed to make them. It’s happened to a lot of people at a lot of different times.
"To me it’s a great chance to show our resolve, our toughness and where our direction is.”