Oklahoma vs Bears, 36-10Nov. 18, 2006
By DAVID KAYE
The defense did its part, but the Baylor offense couldn't get anything going against an even stronger Sooner defense as Oklahoma delivered the final blow to the Bears' disappointing season with a 36-10 win Saturday at Floyd Casey Stadium.
Junior cornerback Braelon Davis recovered three Sooner fumbles to help the Bears force five turnovers, but the offense totaled just 140 yards and didn't put any points on the board after a Ryan Havens 38-yard field goal in the first quarter.
The only other Baylor points came when Davis returned his third fumble recovery 56 yards for a touchdown with less than eight minutes remaining in the game.
"The defense from the middle of the season showed itself a little bit more. I feel like we did a good job giving our offense a few more opportunities to score the football," senior outside safety Maurice Linguist said. "Scoring against them is not easy, so I knew we had to make something happen on defense."
Coming into the game, the Bears were 9-2 when forcing three or more turnovers during Morriss's tenure. However, Baylor had never defeated Oklahoma in 15 tries dating back to 1901.
The Bears trailed just 13-3 at halftime, but saw that deficit increase dramatically within the first seven minutes of the third quarter. After a 5-play 75 yard scoring drive, Reggie Smith intercepted a pass from freshman quarterback Blake Syzmanski and returned it 52 yards to the Baylor 18 yard line.
Four plays later, Chris Brown rushed in from seven yards out to give the Sooners a 27-3 lead. The bleeding didn't stop there.
On the Bears next drive, Alonzo Dotson sacked Syzmanski in the Baylor end zone for a safety, and Juaquin Iglesias returned the ensuing free kick 88 yards for a touchdown to give the Sooners a commanding 36-3 lead.
"We are the most giving team ever. I don't understand it," senior cornerback C.J. Wilson said. "At times we were just like, 'well I hope somebody else makes the play.' You can't do that. You're going to get beat like you stole something if you do."
Senior running back Paul Mosley led the way with 14 rushing yards on seven carries, but the Bears finished minus-48 in rushing yards. Sophomore receiver Thomas White had a team-high 38 yards on three receptions. That total marked the first time all season that no Baylor receiver topped the 60 yard mark.
Making his third career start, Syzmanski completed 22 of 45 passes for 188 yards with two interceptions.
"It's hard in there for Blake. He's a young quarterback, and he did a great job especially with the (lack of) protection he was given," senior receiver Trent Shelton said. "When you lose one of the best quarterbacks in Baylor history and throw a freshman in there like that, it's hard."
Shelton's came away with 15 yards on two receptions in his final game as a Bear. That total was enough to extend his school-record streak to 45 games with at least one reception.
Fellow senior receiver Dominique Zeigler also had a pair of catches to finish his Baylor career with 32 consecutive games with a catch. Shelton and Zeigler became the first duo of Baylor receivers to each top 50 receptions in a season.
The Bears are hoping a highly-regarded recruiting class can help overcome the loss of both receivers and the 30 other seniors who played their last games in a Baylor uniform.
Following a 4-8 season, and with signing day not until the spring, some recruits could switch their commitment to other schools. Head Coach Guy Morriss said he doesn't expect that to happen.
"I think we're in good shape with all of them," he said. "They've committed to Baylor for all the right reasons. They will stand by their commitments. We need them, and they can see we need them."
Baylor's final game seemed like a fitting end to a season that saw ups and downs all across the board. Just when things seemed to be going to Bears' way, something would go wrong.
"The most disappointing thing of all is at times we do things right and we look good doing it," Morriss said. "It's there. It's just a matter of more consistency, handling pressure better and things like that."
"We've won three Big 12 games. That may be a small step for a lot of people, but it's a big step for this program."