Terence Williams

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’s Shock Linwood latest to join parade of RBs skipping bowl games

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Leonard Fournette begat Christian McCaffrey, and now the two of them have given permission for Baylor running back Shock Linwood to skip his bowl game, too.

Linwood made the announcement Tuesday that he join his team for the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl.

There are differences between Fournette and McCaffrey’s decisions and Linwood’s. The first two are viewed as likely first-round picks. Linwood? Not exactly. Notice the “possible” in Waco Tribune-Herald writer John Werner’s tweet above.

Most importantly, Linwood is a senior that has fallen out of favor with the Bears’ coaching staff of late. Baylor’s leading rusher in 2014 and ’15, Linwood has ceded carries to sophomore Terence Williams down the stretch, totaling eight or fewer carries in three of his final four games.

On top of that, Baylor stumbled to a 6-6 finish, dipping from Fiesta, Cotton and Russell Athletic bowl appearances in Linwood’s first three seasons to the Cactus Bowl this season.

Still, it’s unlikely Linwood would opt out of his bowl game had Fournette and McCaffrey not done the same.

Linwood finishes his collegiate career with 699 carries for 4,166 yards and 79 touchdowns. A two-time All-Big 12 honoree, Linwood is Baylor’s all-time record holder in rushing yardage and touchdowns.

The remaining portion of Baylor’s roster will meet Boise State next Tuesday at 10:15 p.m. ET (ESPN).

Texas rallies for crucial win over No. 8 Baylor

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If beating Baylor is a requisite for keeping his job, Charlie Strong may have done just that. Barely.

The Longhorns rallied from eight points down in the fourth quarter, capped by a 39-yard screwball of a Trent Domingue field goal with 46 seconds remaining, to hand No. 8 Baylor its first loss and improve to 4-4 on the season with a 35-34 win. Arriving into Saturday’s game losing four of his last five games, Strong needed to beat Baylor to avoid continuing a streak that has seen every Texas coach since 1951 lose to Baylor in his final season.

Baylor opened up a 7-0 lead but Texas scored 23 of the game’s next 30 points thanks to the Foreman brothers — wide receiver Armanti and running back D’Onta — and some timely defense. The brothers accounted for all 88 yards on the Longhorns’ first touchdown drive to tie the game and, after P.J. Locke snared a tipped interception on the first play of Baylor’s next possession, D'Onta Foreman raced 37 yards to give Texas a 14-7 lead just 3:55 into the game.

After Baylor tied the game on the ensuing possession, Armanti Foreman inadvertently set up Texas’s next score when he fumbled a long completion from Shane Buechele (291 passing yards, two touchdowns) at the 2-yard line. Texas forced a safety by way of a holding call on the next snap, re-claiming the lead at 16-14 at the 8:43 mark of the second quarter, and D’Onta Foreman pushed the advantage to 23-14 with a 9-yard run with 6:35 to play.

The Bears responded by registering four of the game’s next five scores, including a 15-yard strike to K.D. Cannon with just nine seconds left before the break. Baylor took the lead at 28-26 with a 2-yard Terence Williams run at the 8:21 mark of the third quarter, and two Chris Callahan field goals — from 24 and 27 yards, it’s worth noting — nudged the advantage to 34-26 midway through the fourth quarter. Despite rushing for 398 yards on the day, Baylor could not convert a pair of 1st-and-goal situations, and that inability ultimately cost them the game.

Texas marched 79 yards, capped by a 7-yard strike to tight end Andrew Beck, to pull within 34-32 with 7:03 to play, but the Longhorns put the ball in Swoopes’s hands and not Foreman — who entered Saturday as the nation’s second-leading rusher and carried for a career-high 250 yards today. Swoopes was stuffed.

Baylor moved the ball on the ensuing possession from its own 22 to a 1st-and-10 at the UT 29 with 3:47 to play, but lost eight yards on a sack of Seth Russell, a 2-yard loss by running back JaMychal Hasty and an incomplete pass, forcing a punt. Texas traveled 58 yards to set up Domingue’s game-winning field goal and, rather than heave the ball down the field, Baylor attempted to move in position for a game-stealing field goal through a series of Russell designed keepers — despite having only 46 seconds to work with and no timeouts. They didn’t come close.

Baylor WR Zamora scores two first-half TDs in first game back from suspension

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A weather delay may have slowed things down a bit, but Baylor and Oklahoma State may be heating up as they prepare for the second half, with Baylor holding a 21-14 lead.

Baylor wasted little time in getting in the end zone, but they had to wait a little more than an hour before being able to convert the extra point. A lengthy weather delay interrupted Baylor and Oklahoma State just minutes into the game, forcing the PAT following a 23-yard touchdown run by Terence Williams on the opening drive of the game.

The Cowboys tied things up at 7-7 later in the first quarter with a Justice Hill touchdown run of five yards. The game would remain tied into the second quarter, when Seth Russell‘s pass was tipped by his intended receiver but fell into the hands of Ishmael Zamora. Zamora took off 38 yards down the sideline for a go-ahead touchdown in his first game back from a three-game suspension for physically abusing his dog with a belt and kicking it. Zamora would come through once more in the second quarter with another 38-yard touchdown reception from Russell, this time answering a touchdown drive by Oklahoma State. The Cowboys put together a 75-yard drive following Zamora’s first touchdown, with Rennie Chiles finishing things off with a short three-yard run.

Each team has had two turnovers, so this is far from a clean game for either side so far. We’ll see if either can tighten things up in the second half.

Baylor RB Johnny Jefferson out for the rest of the year due to personal issues

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The Baylor Bears’ already thin roster appears to be getting even thinner.

The school announced Friday afternoon that running back Johnny Jefferson is not expected to return to action with the Bears this year after a bit of a tumultuous month.

“Johnny, while still a member of this team, in addition to healing recent injuries is taking some time away from school to deal with some personal issues and hopefully will rejoin the program for spring semester,” Baylor interim head coach Jim Grobe said in a statement.

Jefferson has been limited for several weeks with a foot injury he suffered during a preseason practice but also was nursing a rib injury as a result of a car accident in early August. He did not play in Baylor’s opener and was not expected to see any playing time during Saturday’s game against SMU despite some positive reports surrounding his recovery from the foot injury.

The loss of Jefferson is expected to hurt Baylor’s depth at running back more than anything, as he was one of two 1,000 yard rushers returning from a season ago. The junior had a breakout game in the Russell Athletic Bowl in which he ran for 299 yards, scored three times and was named the game’s MVP.

Starter Shock Linwood figures to continue to receive the lion’s share of carries for Baylor over the coming weeks but Jefferson’s role will likely be spread out between sophomore Terence Williams and redshirt freshman JaMycal Hasty.

Baylor is at home this week against SMU before heading to Rice next Saturday as they round out non-conference play.