WACO, Texas -- A loss like this had to leave a strange, uncomfortable feeling in the gut of Baylor players. These Bears aren’t accustomed to losing at home. In fact, they hadn’t lost in Waco since 2012.
But as they emerged from the locker room late Saturday night, after a 44-34 upset loss to No. 12 Oklahoma, they’d already rallied around a more defiant feeling: This game doesn’t define our season.
“It’s time to gather the troops and go get OSU,” Baylor defensive tackle Andrew Billings said. “That’s it. We’ve already moved on. We took the loss, took the ‘L’ at home, and it hurts a lot. We hurt together. But we’re about to go get OSU now.”
No time to dwell. No time to point fingers. No time to make excuses. None of that’s going to change the fact Baylor must play Oklahoma State and TCU in the next 12 days. The Bears have no choice but to regroup quickly.
The comeback starts in Stillwater, and Baylor hasn’t won a game there since 1939. If they can’t knock off the Big 12’s lone unbeaten team, they’re out of the race. It’s really as simple as that.
The Bears need to win out and they need somebody to beat Oklahoma in order to become back-to-back-to-back Big 12 champs. Whether that 11-1 finish would merit a College Football Playoff bid is impossible to predict. But the uphill battle just to get there will be significant.
Jarrett Stidham played in pain all night against OU after a first-quarter back injury but sounded as confident as ever afterward. The freshman quarterback still hasn’t shown much fear.
“This team is resilient,” Stidham said. “We’ve got great players, great coaches, a great fan base. We’re the greatest university in America. We’re going to bounce back from this.”
Still, this one had to be a bit of a head-scratcher for coach Art Briles, because the most glaring issues seemed to come on offense.
He pointed to the fact his team didn’t complement each other like usual Saturday night. On three occasions, Baylor’s offense failed to drive and capitalize after its defense forced a punt. That’s not like Baylor.
The Bears have to figure out a way to get Stidham more help from the run game. They got a tad predictable Saturday night and Oklahoma kept the right people in the right place to stop them. After a solid start, the Shock Linwood-Devin Chafin duo averaged less than 3.3 yards per carry during the game’s final three quarters.
“By not being able to run the ball, it allowed them to do some things on the back end that limited everything,” Briles said. “That’s why you keep trying to run, because if you run, then you can define the back end a little better.”
And that’s why Corey Coleman cooled off Saturday night, catching three passes against an OU secondary that had more liberty to bracket him. Stidham admits he should’ve done a better job of just throwing it up and letting Coleman go get it.
“We didn’t do a good job of taking advantage of the other things we had, quite honestly,” Briles said.
On defense, Baylor struggled to slow down the Sooners’ talented triplets -- Baker Mayfield, Samaje Perine and Sterling Shepard -- but that’s no surprise. The Bears just needed one more stop, down three with 10:29 to go in the fourth, and they couldn’t get it.
The momentum was turning. Baylor had Mayfield trapped on a second-and-15 from his 17 and Travon Blanchard had his shot. Mayfield threw it away to set up a long third down and, quite possibly, a punt.
One personal foul penalty, for Blanchard’s horse collar tackle of Mayfield, was all it took for that momentum to swing back the Sooners’ way.
“You still have to stop them,” Briles said, “and we didn’t.”
Keep in mind, Baylor had scored 45 or more points in 23 of its last 29 home wins. Holding the Sooners to 44 might’ve been enough on most nights.
But Saturday night belonged to the Sooners. All Baylor can do now is find a way to get right and get back in this race.
“We can’t take another one of those,” Billings said.