The race for the College Football Playoff is a political campaign, about separating your candidate from the rest of the field. So here’s No. 12 Oklahoma’s stump speech: sure they lost to Texas, but after Saturday night’s 44-34 win at No. 6 Baylor, they’re they only candidate on that stage to win in Waco in the last three calendar years. Beyond that, they’re the only team to make the Bears look mortal.
The Sooners ended Baylor’s FBS-leading 20-game home winning streak – becoming the first visitor to ever win in McLane Stadium – by dominating the line of scrimmage on both ends.
The defense, meanwhile, manhandled the Bears’ attack, closing in on freshman Jarrett Stidham throughout the evening to the tune of two sacks and eight tackles for loss. Outside of its drives to open the first and second halves (18 plays, 155 yards, 13 points), Baylor looked – gasp – average, with six punts, two interceptions and one fumble to go with three additional touchdown drives.
Stidham completed 16 of his 27 passes for 257 yards with two touchdowns and two picks, while Shock Linwood grinded out 21 carries for 103 yards. Devin Chafin rushed 13 times for 49 yards and three touchdowns.
Oklahoma led 20-13 after a back-and-forth first half and allowed the Bears to immediately tie the game on their first possession of the second half. Then the Sooners took over. Mayfield hit Shepard for a seven-yard score to re-take the lead, then got the ball back a minute later and cleared Perine for a 55-yard touchdown sprint, pushing the lead to 34-20.
Oklahoma marched 78 yards in 10 plays on its next possession – consuming 5:42 in the process – as Mayfield found Dimitri Flowers for a seven-yard score on third-and-goal.
Stidham was intercepted on Baylor’s next play, and Oklahoma secured the win it needed to jump itself into the thick of the College Football Playoff race.
Oklahoma (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) will likely be favored in its final two games against No. 15 TCU (in Norman) and No. 8 Oklahoma State (in Stillwater) over the next two weeks while rooting for chaos elsewhere. Baylor (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) would need about three earthquakes to jump back in the race, as the Bears are likely delegated to spoiler status as they work to claim a third straight Big 12 title and secure a berth in the Sugar Bowl.