By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The first-ever sellout crowd at Boone Pickens Stadium saw the Oklahoma State program take another step closer to winning its second Big 12 Conference championship in three years.
Led by one of the top defenses in the country, the 10th-ranked Cowboys did something nine teams before them never could do — slow down the explosive fourth-ranked Baylor Bear offense. With it, OSU rolled to a 49-17 victory and needs just to beat Bedlam rival Oklahoma on Dec. 7 in Boone Pickens Stadium to clinch the Big 12 title.
“It feels pretty good. Being able to control your own destiny, there’s nothing like it,” OSU senior receiver Tracy Moore said. “You don’t have to sit around and wait on other teams, you just have to go out there and get to work and come out swinging.”
OSU Coach Mike Gundy tried to set the tone early with a gamble that looked like it could backfire.
The OSU offense gave Baylor, which has not won in Stillwater since 1939, a short field early in the game, going for it on fourth-and-1 from the OSU 46-yard line. The run up the middle by Desmond Roland was stuffed and the Bears took over on the Cowboy side of midfield.
Baylor nearly took advantage when Bryce Petty came up short of a 30-yard touchdown run when he tripped over the 7-yard line to set up the Bears at the goal line.
“That turf had a big tackle. I’m just glad it was on our side,” OSU linebacker Caleb Lavey said.
Two plays later, James Castleman came up with a heads-up play to prevent Baylor from benefiting from the short field. With BU at the goal line, running back Shock Linwood tried to stretch the ball into the end zone while on the pile — at which point Castleman swiped the ball loose and recovered it at the OSU 1-yard line.
The turnover proved to be a big momentum swing for Oklahoma State, as the Cowboy offense went 99 yards to score the game’s first touchdown on a 2-yard run up the middle by Guthrie native Kye Staley.
“That was a huge momentum swing because I remember being in there and was right there and was just like ‘did he just trip at the goal line?’” OSU cornerback Kevin Peterson said. “I felt things just had to be in our favor. After that, the offense just fed off of it and we turned it up from there.”
The Oklahoma State defense continued to slow the explosive Baylor offense, allowing the OSU offense to put another touchdown on the board late in the first half.
With Clint Chelf on point in the passing game, the Cowboys went 80 yards on five plays with Chelf finding Charlie Moore on a 12-yard pass over the middle to give Oklahoma State the two-touchdown advantage.
Baylor did manage one big play in the first half on a 53-yard pass in the final minute, but the OSU defense held up in the red zone and forced the Bears to settle for a 29-yard field goal.
The Cowboy offense made quick work of things on its opening drive of the second half with Chelf, who finished 19 of 25 for 370 yards and three touchdowns, finding Tracy Moore on a third-and-3 play, staring down the blitz by the Bears and going over the top for a 56-yard touchdown after a broken tackle by Moore.
The defense, which was short cornerback Justin Gilbert who saw limited time in obvious passing situations after his injury from the Texas game, picked up where it left off at halftime, coming up with three fourth-down stops by Baylor inside the OSU 40-yard line. And while the defense bowed up under pressure, the Oklahoma State offense continued to build on the lead.
Behind Chelf and Staley, the Cowboys manufactured another two lengthy scoring drives before the close of the fourth quarter, with Staley punching in his second touchdown from 1-yard and Chelf running one in from 4 yards to take the 35-3 lead into the fourth quarter.
The explosive Baylor offense finally found a rhythm at the start of the fourth, however, and put together a seven-play drive that took just over a minute to move 73 yards before Petty connected with Antwan Goodley for a 24-yard touchdown.
The Bears were on the verge of getting back into the ball game until a bad snap inside the OSU 5-yard line shifted the momentum — and the Big 12 title chase — toward the Cowboys for good.
On third-and-goal from the 2-yard line, a low snap dribbled past Petty, who was unable to jump on the loose ball. Instead, senior transfer Tyler Patmon scooped the fumble in stride and had an easy 78 yards to the end zone.
“We were up 35-10 in the fourth quarter at that point so they must be explosive. I was concerned, too,” defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. “That was just us being opportunistic. It was one of those nights. We got an opportunistic play and guys were locked in. Good things happened for the guys tonight.”
Oklahoma State added the exclamation point with three minutes remaining with Chelf connecting on a 33-yard touchdown pass to Jhajuan Seales to give OSU the 49-10 lead. Baylor did respond with a meaningless touchdown of its own with a 32-yard touchdown pass from Petty to Levi Norwood.
The OSU defense held the Baylor offense to 453 yards of offense — with just 93 yards rushing — with Petty taking a hit to any Heisman Trophy hype with a 28-of-48 performance with 359 yards and two touchdowns.
“Baylor is a great team with a great offense. Being able to keep them to 17 points, keeping them out of the end zone until the fourth quarter was huge,” Lavey said. “We limited their big plays and everybody did their job. The defense really came together and played well today.”
Oklahoma State will get two weeks to prepare for the Sooners, who will travel to Stillwater Dec. 7 with the Cowboys looking to clinch a Big 12 crown and its second-ever BCS bowl berth.