BCS BUSTED National Title Hopes Dashed in 49-17 Loss at OSUNov. 24, 2013
By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider
STILLWATER, Okla. - This game should have been played on Halloween or maybe even April's Fool Day.
Maybe then you could have explained all the weird stuff that happened in the third-ranked Baylor Bears' crushing 49-17 loss to the ninth-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys on a frigid night at Boone Pickens Stadium.
- Like Bryce Petty tripping over his own feet and coming up a few feet short of the goal line at the end of a 27-yard run;
- Or Shock Linwood getting the ball stripped two plays later, trying to stretch it over from the 1-yard line;
- Or a bad shotgun snap from the Cowboys' 2-yard line that resulted in a 78-yard fumble return for a touchdown by OSU's Tyler Patmon;
- Or all of OSU's offensive trickery that included a throwback pass to quarterback Clint Chelf, a flea-flicker and more reverses than you would normally see in a full season.
"I just think a lot of weird stuff happened," said Baylor junior receiver/kick returner Levi Norwood, who had six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown in the Bears' first loss in 12 ½ months, snapping a school-record 13-game winning streak and ending their hopes of the school's first national championship.
"We had a lot of weird stuff that didn't go our way, and I think maybe that threw us off a little bit. But it's just frustrating, really."
Yes, it was that kind of night for a Baylor team that came in with a train-full of momentum and hopes of hopping over Ohio State to third when the BCS rankings are released Sunday night. But the Bears' dreams of eventually facing either Alabama or Florida State in the BCS National Championship Game ended with their 11th consecutive loss in Stillwater.
"The only number that's in my head is 1939," said senior safety/linebacker Ahmad Dixon, referring to the year that Baylor last won here. "2013 didn't change 1939. This hurts. Our chances are still there to win the Big 12, but we wanted something bigger than that. We wanted something that's never ever been done; and that was to go to the national championship. That dream came down, but I can promise you that the next one won't come crashing down on us."
See, here's the thing, Baylor (9-1, 6-1) can still win at least a share of its first Big 12 championship ever and first league title of any kind since 1994.
And if the Bears sweep their final two games against TCU (4-7, 2-6) and Texas (7-3, 6-1) - plus get some help from Oklahoma in its Bedlam matchup against the Cowboys (10-1, 7-1) - then they're the ones going to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on New Year's Day in Glendale, Ariz.
I think that falls in the category of "All's not lost."
"This is a great team, a special team," said Petty, who threw for 359 yards and two touchdowns and added 46 yards rushing on 11 carries. "We have a lot to play for, still. Would this have been nice? For sure. But it's not going to ruin our goal as Big 12 champions. We've got to get back right, have a great week of practice this week, play TCU beat TCYU and then get ready for Texas. But right now, it's about TCU. That's what we have to do."
"It's still huge," Norwood said. "It's something that's never been done before at Baylor, So, it's something that we want to do, and have a chance to play in a BCS bowl game."
For all intent and purposes, this one changed drastically in a 10-play stretch midway through the first quarter.
After the defense stopped OSU running back Desmond Roland on a fourth-and-1 near midfield, Baylor was poised to take the lead when Petty kept on an option play around the left end and had nothing but green turf in front of him.
But Petty inexplicably started stumbling at around the 10-yard line - "My feet just kind of left me a little bit," he said - and he fell just a few precious feet from the goal line. Two plays later, when Linwood tried to stretch the ball over the goal line, OSU defensive tackle James Castleman stripped it and recovered at the 1.
"That's not Shock's fault, that one's on me," Petty said. "I have to finish that, that's not his to finish, especially when (receivers Cory Coleman and Jay Lee) did such a great job down there blocking those guys. It was just a funky deal. And that's not his fault, that's my fault."
Instead of cashing in early and scoring a first-half touchdown in this stadium for the first time in 11 years, the Bears repeated their sins of the past. Two years ago, the Bears drove 69 yards in 16 plays on the opening drive and came up short on four shots from inside the 2.
"Well, you certainly don't feel like things are going your way," said Baylor head coach Art Briles, when asked if it was a sign that it just wasn't the Bears' night. "It's not like those are freakish plays. They're just normal, every-down plays. It wasn't something out of the ordinary that you're just shocked over. It's just stuff that you come to expect to work opposite of what happened. That's a little disturbing. I'm not sure what the cause of either one of those was. I think it was just the way it was tonight. We had a lot of things that didn't go our way."
Chelf, who completed his first 12 passes in a row, got the Cowboys off the shadow of the goal line with a 28-yard pass to Charlie Moore and then hit Marcell Ateman for a 51-yard gain to the Bears' 20. Five plays later, Kye Staley gave OSU a lead it would never relinquish with a two-yard TD run.
"I'm not going to say it deflated us," Dixon said of the Pokes' seven-play, 99-yard scoring drive, "because it's just football. You're faced with adversity. And now we're faced with adversity every day. That was just another adversity we had to face."
To its credit, the defense kept the Bears in this game in a half when the offense couldn't get much of anything going. While the Petty-led offense went three-and-out three times in a series of four possessions and punted once from the Cowboys' 41, the defense held time and time again until the dam finally broke in the second half.
Chelf, who earned National Player of the Week honors by the Walter Camp Foundation and Athlon Sports after throwing for 370 yards and three TDs, hooked up with Moore on a 12-yard TD strike that gave the Cowboys a 14-0 lead with 4:28 left in the half.
Hoping for a repeat of their 2011 miracle comeback at Kansas, the Bears took momentum into the locker room at the half with a 29-yard Aaron Jones field goal at the end of a six-play, 71-yard drive, cutting the deficit to 14-3.
"We felt good about what the whole team had done," Dixon said, "despite the offense starting out slow and them not scoring. Not once did I ever feel like, 'Oh, we didn't do enough.' We did everything we could. They just executed. Nothing we can do about another team that just executes. That's it. They just out-played us and executed."
The Cowboys regained whatever momentum they had lost by scoring on their first two drives of the third quarter and taking a commanding 28-3 lead. Tracy Moore scored on a 56-yard pass from Chelf, and then Staley scored his second TD of the night from one yard out.
"We knew we had to come out and get a stop, which we didn't," Briles said. "If we get a stop and get a score, thenb it's a 14-10 game and it's a dogfight. . . . The next thing you know, it's 28-3, and it's a little different scenario. Everything you had planned coming back from the half is thrown out the window, because whatever you had that you thought might be able to scheme and work a little bit is all of a sudden by the wayside because of that score differential."
After picking up 22 yards on a Moore-to-Moore receiver pass from Charlie to Tracy Moore - no relation - the Cowboys extended the lead to 35-3 on a four-yard TD run by Chelf. He was 19-of-25 for a career-high 370 yards and three TDs passing, added 48 yards on a pass from receiver Josh Stewart and also scored on the TD run.
"I couldn't be more proud of what he's accomplished," OSU head coach Mike Gundy said of Chelf, who didn't even start the season as the starter. "He's been a good leader, and he does it quiet. He's been humbled, and for that he's had success."
Hoping for a miracle fourth-quarter comeback, Baylor finally reached the end zone at the 14:04 mark when Petty capped off a seven-play, 73-yard drive with a 24-yard TD pass to Antwan Goodley, who posted his seventh 100-yard game of the season with 10 catches for 118 yards.
And after the defense forced a three-and-out, the Bears were back in business, camped at the Cowboys' 2-yard line with just over 10 minutes left in the game.
But that's when the weird stuff reared up its ugly head again. When center Stefan Huber's low shotgun snap rolled all the way back past the 20, Petty tried to fall on it, but Patmon scooped up the fumble and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown and 42-10 lead with 9:58 showing on the clock.
"It's not fair for our defense to play as good as they did, and then us not score points," Petty said. "That's what we're here to do. You're on the offensive side of the ball, you score points. That's part of it. You can't give a team like Oklahoma State that many opportunities, because they will capitalize on some of them. Again, that's on my shoulders. I have the ball every play, so I have to execute. There were just things here and there that I didn't do well. I have to learn from it, get better at it and then be ready to go."
After OSU struck again with a 33-yard pass from Chelf to Jhajuan Seales, the Bears capped the scoring with Petty's 32-yard TD pass to Norwood with just 1:59 left in the game.
"None of them feel good," said Briles, when asked if this loss hurt more with so much on the line. "Our team had done a great job up to this point of building our momentum. I'm proud of them for that. What we'll do is try to start trying to create more next Saturday'. That's our job. So, we'll go to TCU and try to fight and claw and get us a win next weekend."
The Baylor-TCU game has been selected as an ESPN2 broadcast and will kick off at 2:30 p.m. next Saturday, Nov. 30, at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas, and is the Horned Frogs' 16th sellout in their last 20 home games.
TCU has dropped four of its last five, including a heartbreaking 33-31 loss at Kansas State last week when the Wildcats' Jack Cantele kicked a 41-yard field goal with just three seconds left.
"No one likes to lose," Norwood said. "You don't even like to lose a game of rock, paper, scissors. So, losing a game of football definitely hurts. But at the same time, we know we still get to come out next week and play again. That's when we have a chance to turn it around."
Here is a link to the boxscore from Saturday's Baylor-Oklahoma State football game.