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The Best Day of the Matt Rhule Era

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What a victory!

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

This shouldn’t have happened. Baylor trailed 31-21 with less than nine minutes remaining. In came Charlie Brewer—a guy who didn’t practice most of the week because of a concussion. He was absolutely terrible against West Virginia. He was tasked with leading Baylor on two scoring drives. And even then, it might not have been enough.

Brewer made a nice throw to Jalen Hurd. He was spectacular today. He came to Baylor to play wide receiver and not keep destroying his body playing running back. But it’s obvious he’s special at that position. And so today he started the game at running back. When Baylor needed a quick score, he was ready too:

Baylor still needed to stop Oklahoma State. The Cowboys scored touchdowns on three straight second half possessions. And according to ESPN’s stats, they had a 94.1% of victory. To put that in perspective, Beto O’Rourke is three times likelier to be Texas’ next Senator.

On 4th and 3 (or 2 as it will be retold years from now), Mike Gundy elected to go for it. And that seemed like the right call. Baylor missed so many tackles. Justice Hill and Taylor Cornelius were too much for Baylor all day. Well, all day until one play. The Bears swarmed Cornelius, and Chris Miller came away with the big stop.

That still left Baylor in a bad spot. With 1:24 left and zero timeouts, Baylor still needed a touchdown to win. Brewer, Trestan Ebner and Denzel Mims made plays when it mattered—on the final play before Connor Martin would have tried to send it overtime—and Baylor won:

This was the best day of the two years of the Matt Rhule era. The game seemed absolutely lost. Baylor just couldn’t make stops, and they were going to end up so close but lose this game. They just couldn’t make plays on 3rd and long or pick up enough for first downs. Too many costly mistakes. And in close losses, every decision is analyzed. Should Brewer have started from the beginning? Did the Bears screw up going for a fake field goal? Should the team have had a better plan in coverage?

Those are all fair questions. But in a win, we tend to be more open to the best moments on the day. Baylor led 14-10 at halftime. They battled back and came up with a giant punt block. They were willing to experiment: this team was going to go for it on 4th and inches at their own 35, and they tried a fake field goal. The Bears can’t be afraid to take chances and they weren’t.

There are plenty of things the Bears need to keep improving at to achieve their goals, both this year and in future seasons. But Baylor came back from an absolute dumpster fire performance in Morgantown to beat an Oklahoma State team that just knocked off Texas. It was homecoming. Sailor Bear was on the uniform, and Baylor seemed headed for defeat. That didn’t happen though. Baylor won. If they win again, they’ll go bowling. This was the best day of the Matt Rhule era.