Ishmael Zamora

Associated Press

KD Cannon a thorn in Boise State’s side as Baylor takes Cactus Bowl

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Bowl games can often be completely separate animals from the regular season, and no one will prove that phenomenon more true this winter than Baylor. A team that arrived in Phoenix on a 6-game losing streak played like the Big 12 title contender many expected it to be, beating Boise State 31-12 in the Cactus Bowl.

Baylor playing like Baylor again started with getting the ball in the hands of the type of player that dominated games during the Bears’ salad days — wide receiver KD Cannon. The junior caught 14 passes for 226 yards and two crucial first half touchdowns — a 30-yarder to open the scoring in the first quarter and a 68-yard connection to stretch the lead to 14-3 with 12:14 to play in the half.

In addition to not covering Cannon, Boise State was undone by Brett Rypien‘s inability to hold on to the football inside scoring territory. The Broncos’ quarterback tossed first half two interceptions inside Baylor’s 5-yard line and lost a fumble at the Bears’ 16, ending any hopes of a comeback early in the fourth quarter. Rypien’s second pick came inside the end zone and led to an, ahem, controversial 99-yard drive for the Bears’ final score of the half.

Baylor was initially stopped at its own 21 but received new life when Drew Galitz drew a running into the kicker flag, a 5-yard penalty on a 4th-and-4, despite ESPN replays showing clearly no Boise State player actually touched Galitz. The flag stood, though, and JaMychal Hasty ended the 15-play march with a 5-yard scoring dash with 4:19 to play in the half.

Boise State added a second Tyler Rausa field goal, a 26-yard chip shot, to close the first half and opened the second half with a 13-play drive that ended on a turnover on downs when Bryan Harsin eschewed a third field goal try in favor of a fourth-and-goal pass that was broken up by defensive back Ryan Reid. Baylor answered with an un-Baylor-like 21-play drive culminating in a 34-yard Chris Callahan field goal at the 3:19 mark of the third quarter.

Baylor (7-6) closed the door for good after Rypien’s fumble with a 12-play, 71-yard drive that closed with a Zach Smith 14-yard scoring strike to Ishmael Zamora with 10:03 remaining. Smith played the best game of his young career, completing 28-of-39 passes for 375 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Terence Williams, receiving a full work load after Shock Linwood chose to stay home, toted 25 carries for 103 yards.

Rypien (31-of-50 for an even 300 yards) added a cosmetic score when he hit Cedrick Wilson for a 28-yard score with 1:20 to play. His 2-point pass was, fittingly, intercepted.

Playing in the final game of his Boise State careerJeremy McNichols posted a quiet night of 19 carries for 46 yards with five grabs for 24 more yards.

The loss for Boise State (10-3) was a rare one in a metropolitan area that hosted many of the orange and blue’s greatest moments over the past decade. The Broncos are 3-0 in Fiesta Bowls played at University of Phoenix Stadium in nearby Glendale, while Tuesday night’s loss came at Phoenix’s Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Baylor drops fifth straight game as Texas Tech wins high-scoring shootout

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There are few things in college football that are a sure thing but betting that Texas Tech and Baylor would get into a shootout on Black Friday was one of them.

The Bears ended up dropping their fifth straight Big 12 game of the season 54-35 to the Red Raiders in a wild game from AT&T Stadium in Arlington that produced points and yards a plenty.

Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes ended his 2016 season by passing for a remarkable 586 yards and six touchdowns, doing most of his damage in a 41 point outburst in the first half. Four of his wideouts finished with over 80 yards through the air, with Keke Coutee leading them all by racking up 221 yards and two scores on just eight catches.

Baylor was no slouch in what amounted to a 7-on-7 game in the Lone Star State, as freshman quarterback Zach Smith threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns in his best game as a starter. His favorite target was Ishmael Zamora, who finished with 155 yards and a touchdown. K.D. Cannon added another 132 yards and two scores through the air as well.

All told, the two teams combined for 89 points, 179 plays, 1,300 yards of total offense, 56 first downs and one long set of game film for the coaches to break down over the weekend.

Yet in the Big 12 this season, especially in games involving Baylor and Texas Tech, nobody is all that surprised at what transpired on Friday.

Behind monster day from RB Kyle Hicks, TCU blacks out No. 17 Baylor

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For reasons that were definitely not related to Art Briles, Baylor players wore black against TCU on Saturday. They left with black eyes.

The hated Horned Frogs jumped all over Baylor, handing the 17th-ranked Bears their second straight loss in a 62-22 beatdown.

The loss comes after a tumultuous week where the school was a subject of a 60 Minutes Sports expose and Briles’s remaining assistant coaches jointly released a statement defending their former head coach. Now at 6-2 (2-2 Big 12), the Bears could slide into a total free fall with a trip to No. 14 Oklahoma waiting next week.

As for today’s game, it opened like so many Baylor games have in recent years — with the Bears scoring, quickly. Baylor accepted the ball to open the game and scored two plays later, when Seth Russell found Ishmael Zamora for an 81-yard catch-and-dash.

The good vibes didn’t last, though.

Kenny Hill tied the game for TCU just three plays later on a 37-yard strike to Taj Williams, and the Frogs pulled away for good not long after that. Following a 26-yard Brandon Hatfield field goal to give the Frogs a lead they would not relinquish, TCU mounted consecutive 88- and 77-yard drives, each punctuated by Kyle Hicks scoring jaunts, then moved the game to blowout territory when Ranthony Texada stepped in front of a Russell pass and raced it 28 yards for a touchdown at the 10:28 mark of the second quarter, staking the Frogs to a 31-7 lead.

Baylor stopped the bleeding with a 19-play, 97-yard marathon capped by a 2-yard Russell keeper with 2:29 remaining in the frame, but TCU (5-4, 3-3 Big 12) immediately answered with another Hicks touchdown with just seven seconds left before the break.

The second half opened the way the first half ended — another long TCU drive punctuated by another Hicks rush. This one covered 95 yards in only five plays, the last of which traveled 18 yards and gave Hicks his fourth score of the day. Hicks’s fifth score came from three yards out at the 9:53 mark of the fourth quarter, ending his day with 26 carries for 192 yards — the most by a Frog ball-carrier since the program joined the Big 12 — and five touchdowns. Sewo Olonilua gave TCU an even half-dozen touchdown runs when he bruised in from 26 yards out with 3:48 remaining.

For his part, Hill was also fantastic. He completed 17-of-30 passes for 244 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions while adding 11 carries for 85 yards.

As a team, TCU rushed 58 times for 428 yards — 7.4 per carry —  and six touchdowns.

Russell completed 20-of-36 passes for 275 yards with a score and a pick-six. Remove the 81-yard score and Russell averaged an un-Baylor-like 5.54 yards per attempted, while four Bears rushers mustered only 133 yards on 45 carries.

The win gives TCU a 2-game winning streak over their longtime rival. In a series dating back to 1899, this hotly-contested series of holy rivals now stands at 53-52-7 in favor of the Frogs.

TCU dominating No. 17 Baylor in Waco

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Baylor scored from 81 yards out on the second snap of the game. From pretty much that moment out it’s been all TCU.

The Horned Frogs hold a 38-14 lead over the No. 17-ranked Bears on an overcast day in Waco.

After an unsportsmanlike conduct flag gave them a short field, TCU raced 54 yards in 34 seconds as a 37-yard strike from Kenny Hill to Taj Williams tied the game at 7-7 just 56 ticks into the contest.

Brandon Hatfield booted a 26-yard field goal to give the Frogs a 10-7 edge, and a pair of Kyle Hicks scoring runs — the second a 22-yard twister of a run on 4th-and-2 — pushed the lead to 24-7, and a 26-yard Ranthony Texada pick six just one play later pushed the score into blowout territory.

Baylor finally ended a streak of six straight empty possessions with its first sustained drive of the day, moving 97 yards in 19 plays — though using just 3:12 off the clock — to pull within 31-14 on a 2-yard Seth Russell keeper with 2:29 to play before the half. Outside of his 81-yard strike to Ishmael Zamora, Russell has struggled through a 12-of-24, 102-yard half with the aforementioned pick six.

TCU answered Russell’s score with another Hicks scoring rush with seven seconds left before the half, capping the end of an 85-yard drive where Hill passed or rushed for all but 16 of the 85 yards. Hill has been masterful so far — 14-of-25 passing for 202 yards and a touchdown while rushing seven times for a game-high 74 yards. Hicks has added 15 carries for 67 yards and the three scores.

The Frogs will receive to open the second half.

Seth Russell’s 4 TD night vs. Oklahoma State helps No. 16 Baylor remain undefeated

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In a game that was delayed over an hour by weather, featured a bizarre coaching decision and over 1,000 yards of combined offense, No. 16 Baylor (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) managed to pull away and remain one of two remaining undefeated teams in the Big 12 with a 35-24 victory at home over Oklahoma State (2-2, 0-1 Big 12). West Virgina is also undefeated after beating BYU earlier in the day.

Baylor quarterback Seth Russell passed for 387 yards and four touchdowns in the win, and he also led the ground attack with 65 rushing yards on 10 carries. Ishmael Zamora, in his first game back from a three-game suspension for beating his dog, caught eight of the passes from Russell for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Chris Platt also hauled in a 100-yard day with a pair of touchdowns.

While the winning formula for Baylor typically revolves around the offense, Oklahoma State coughed the ball up four times, although they did pick up 30 first downs and run 100 plays of offense as well. It was far from pretty for Baylor, with seven penalties and giving up 28 first downs, but the Bears will take it and enjoy the undefeated start to the season regardless.

Baylor head coach Jim Grobe did make one puzzling coaching decision late in the third quarter when he kept the offense on the field to try to pick up a first down on fourth and one from Baylor’s 24-yard line. You read that correctly. They went for it from the Baylor 24-yard line, with a lead mind you, in the third quarter. Oklahoma State stuffed the play for no gain and the offense was unable to capitalize. That may have cost Oklahoma State, and it bailed Grobe out for an absolute bonehead coaching decision.

But the defensive stop was just the start. Oklahoma State’s defense could not hold Baylor down and the Bears put together a 99-yard touchdown drive, with Seth Russell finding Chris Platt from 15 yards out on third and goal. It served as the knockout blow from the Bears offense, who had four touchdown drives of at least 73 yards on the night.

Baylor will be on the road next week for more Big 12 competition. The Bears hit the road to take on Iowa State for an early kickoff next Saturday. Oklahoma State will be home next week for a meeting with the Texas Longhorns. Texas will be coming off a bye week after losing on the road at Cal last weekend.