No. 6 Oklahoma beats No. 7 Baylor in overtime to grab Big 12 title
Rhamondre Stevenson had a five-yard touchdown run in overtime, and No. 6 Oklahoma made its bid for another playoff berth with a 30-23 win over No. 7 Baylor in the Big 12 Conference championship game Saturday.
“We didn’t play our best, but we beat a damn good team here today and we’re the champs,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said.
A day after No. 5 Utah lost in the Pac-12 championship game, and before No. 4 Georgia took on No. 1 Louisiana State for the Southeastern Conference title, the Sooners (12-1, 8-1 Big 12) won their fifth consecutive Big 12 title and 13th overall. Oklahoma went to the playoff three of the last four seasons.
“I like our case,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said before the game about his league’s playoff chances.
Baylor (11-2, 8-1) tied the score in the fourth quarter after two long passes by freshman Jacob Zeno, the second quarterback used after starter Charlie Brewer left the game in the second quarter following a big hit he delivered on a defender.
Former USC football coach John Robinson, 84, is in his first year as an offensive consultant for Ed Orgeron at Louisiana State. “It’s been just a fascinating experience,” Robinson says.
There was an 81-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Trestan Ebner with 9:41 left in regulation and a 78-yarder to Chris Platt that set up John Mayers’ third field goal, a 27-yarder with 3:25 left to make it 23-all.
After Oklahoma scored on three plays to start overtime, Zeno was under tremendous pressure on Baylor’s chance. There were two incompletions before he was sacked for a 10-yard loss, and then he was under distress again when he flung a game-ending pass that fell to the ground.
The Bears had only 105 total yards before the 81-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. They finished with 265.
“They played like they have the majority of this year. There’s some great defense being played at the University of Oklahoma right now,” Riley said. “Man, I’m proud of those guys.”
Jalen Hurts, who last year led Alabama’s comeback win over Georgia in the SEC title game, was 17-for-24 passing for 278 yards and a touchdown. CeeDee Lamb had eight catches for 173 yards after missing the previous game against the Bears.
It was the second time in four games that Oklahoma beat the Bears, who in coach Matt Rhule’s debut season two years ago lost 11 games with a depleted roster in the aftermath of a scandal that led to the firing of two-time Big 12 champion coach Art Briles.
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Brewer was taken out of the game not long after bulling over a defender at the end of a seven-yard run early in the second quarter. He finished that series and played one more before Gerry Bohanon took over after referee Mike Defee told Rhule that the starter needed to be checked.
Brewer put his shoulder down and knocked nickel back Brendan Radley-Hiles to the ground. At that time, Defee announced that Radley-Hiles was being removed from the game for a potential head injury, though Brewer initially remained in the game.
Bohanon directed Baylor on scoring drives on its last two possessions before halftime. He threw a 33-yard touchdown to Tyquan Thornton before a 28-yard field goal by Mayers put the Bears up 13-10 at halftime — even with only 98 total yards — after they trailed 10-0.
Three weeks after their biggest comeback ever, a 34-31 win at Baylor after a 25-point deficit, the Sooners jumped ahead 10-0 in the first quarter.
Lamb turned a short catch into a 71-yard gain to the seven-yard line on Oklahoma’s second drive, setting up Kennedy Brooks’ six-yard TD run. On the next drive, Lamb’s 26-yard catch to the Baylor 19 came before Gabe Brkic kicked the first of his three field goals.
Oklahoma: The Sooners are 10-1 in Big 12 championship games. The 36-year-old Riley is 36-5 as head coach, with Big 12 titles in all three seasons since being promoted from offensive coordinator after Bob Stoops suddenly retired in the summer after winning his 10th Big 12 championship. Oklahoma has a 27-3 series advantage over the Bears, though this was the first game between them with both ranked in the top 10.
Baylor: The 11 wins matched a school record, and Baylor still has a chance to break that in their bowl game. Rhule said while his Bears are disappointed with the loss, he knows they will be ready for their bowl.
Oklahoma waits for the College Football Playoff selection committee’s decision Sunday, on whether the Sooners go back to the playoff or represent the Big 12 in the Sugar Bowl.
Baylor would go to the Sugar Bowl if the Sooners make the playoff and could still be in a New Year’s Six game if they don’t.
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