Waco, Texas- As SEC chants filled McLane Stadium, the Oklahoma faithful walked away dejected. Baylor (8-2, 5-2), a team apparently unworthy to share a conference with Oklahoma (9-1, 6-1), eviscerated the Sooners 27-14.
This is almost assuredly Baylor’s biggest win in seven years. The Bears have not beaten Oklahoma in that time. In 2019, Baylor built a 28-3 lead. The Bears lost. Last season Baylor held a Lincoln Riley offense to its lowest yards per play average ever. The Bears lost.
Against that backdrop, every missed opportunity felt like a familiar foray into those past failures. Baylor failed to convert on 4th and goal from the two to open the game. Is it 2019 again? Gerry Bohanon threw an interception after miscommunicating with RJ Sneed. Is this last week against TCU
Things change quickly though. One minute Oklahoma is too good for the Big 12. The next, Baylor’s now undefeated against both squads that believe the best way to make a rich institution’s life meaningful is to make it richer.
Over the second half, Baylor was simply significantly better than Oklahoma. Abram Smith darted for 75 yards with Baylor up 10-7 in the second half. Bohanon would rush for a five yard touchdown not long after. The Bear’s moved it well on the ground, embracing Bohanon as a runner. He collected 104 rushing yards on the day. He ran it in to make it 24-7 late in the fourth quarter. McLane hasn’t been that loud since 61-58.
The biggest story for many folks nationally will be Williams getting bench for Rattler. That’s an interesting story, sure. Oklahoma today exemplified the old cliché: if you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have a quarterback. Williams never looked comfortable, even if he had time to pass. He was 8-of-17 for just 84 passing yards before Riley brought him back in garbage time. HIs interceptions were baffling. Rattler didn’t offer much when he came in down 17-7. And he got benched again.
The Bears put away Oklahoma. Riley’s lived on second and third chances. That didn’t matter today. If Bohanon threw a pick, the defense responded. If Bohanon needed a long drive, he guided one.
Jeff Grime’s offense ran all over Oklahoma. Before running out the clock late, Baylor averaged seven yards a carry. Smith averaged 7.5 yards per carry before his final series of carries—with the games outcome over—dropped his average. It felt like Baylor was simply tougher. Maybe that’s the halo effect from a victory. The Bears earned that halo though. They made plays when necessary. Oklahoma didn’t.
This win feels extra sweet given Oklahoma could leave for the SEC anytime. Officially the Sooners are hanging out through the 2024 season. If so, Baylor fans should have immense faith in an Aranda led team against a Riley led one. His LSU defense so massacred Oklahoma in the 2019 College Football Playoff that Aranda might have earned the Baylor job from that performance. He’s just been better than Riley in head-to-head games.
On top of that, Baylor won this week despite a bevy of distractions. Joey McGuire left for Texas Tech. Good for him, but it’s not easy losing your associate head coach midweek before playing the supposed King of the Big 12. The Bears just lost to hapless TCU. It would have been easy to come out weakly with the season on life support. That didn’t happen.
Baylor’s path to the Big 12 title game is quite clear. Win out, and hope Oklahoma loses to the Cowboys or the Cyclones. It doesn’t take a lot of faith to expect either of those to happen. Baylor seemed to break OU today. Now it gets to play the rest of the season looking to win a Big 12 title.
Correction: We had this ready to publish before Baylor kicked it. It’s updated to reflect Baylor wisely added points.