After winning just 2 games in 2020, the Baylor Bears are the Big 12 Champions!
Baylor jumped out to a 21-3 lead and held on for dear life through the second half, defeating Oklahoma State XX-XX to win the 2021 Big 12 Football Championship, 21-16.
A 4-down defensive stand starting at the 2-yard line cemented a remarkable season for this Baylor program.
Winning a conference championship in any season is a remarkable accomplishment, but even more impressive is to win with a redshirt freshman quarterback leading the charge.
Shapen was nearly perfect through the first half, at one point completing 17 of 17 passes breaking an AT&T record. Touchdown passes to Blake Sims, Drew Estrada, and Tyquan Thornton (a DIME) gave Baylor everything they needed (barely) to get the job done.
The story of this game, and likely the season, was this Baylor defense.
After a Tresten Ebner fumble, Oklahoma State was held to a field goal.
A JT Woods interception (1/4) set the Baylor offense up for the short field touchdown to Ben Sims.
A Matt Jones interception (2/4) lead to the short field prior to Drew Estrada scoring.
When the Bayor offense stalled twice towards the end of the half, the defense forced their two Oklahoma State punts.
Oklahoma State drives the field in dominating fashion aided by a pass interference call, yet held to another field goal.
A McVea interception (3/4) (one high point in an overall fantastic game from him) seemed to set Baylor in a place to put the game away.
The third Shapen touchdown to Tyquan Thornton put Baylor up 21-3 in the second quarter.
But the full game is 60 minutes. And Oklahoma State didn’t go away. And the Baylor offense could hear the footsteps.
With a controversial decision to not punt on 4th and 1 on their own side of the field, Shapen throws the ball away turning it over on downs. Oklahoma drives the short field for an untouched rushing touchdown.
A wide receiver pass from Tyquan Thornton (who was outside the hashmarks and threw to the area of a receiver) was called for intentional grounding. Drive stopped, no points.
At this point in the 3rd quarter, it was clear Blake Shapen was dealing with a shoulder injury suffered during a long scramble earlier in the drive.
But yet again, the defense responds with a MASSIVE hit from McVea to force a tip drill interception (4/4).
The only points allowed by the Baylor defense in the fourth quarter came after a muffed punt.
The ensuing drives:
Baylor, 5 plays. -3 yards. Punt.
Oklahoma State, 3 plays. 6 yards. Punt
Baylor, 3 plays. 2 yards. Punt.
The final, season defining drive by this Baylor defense:
Oklahoma State, 17 plays. 89 yards.
17 plays. Zero points.
Baylor stands the Oklahoma State offense up SEVEN times inside the redzone, including a game-saving tackle by who else, Jairon McVea.
It’s a game of inches. It’s a game of heart.
Baylor had the heart today.
Never underestimate the heart of a champion.