Baylor Bears

Oklahoma’s 2019 Comeback vs Baylor Still One for the Ages

NCAA Football: Baylor at Oklahoma

Two years ago, Oklahoma (8-1 and ranked No. 8 in the College Football Poll) rolled into Waco with a showdown against Baylor. If the Sooners were to leave town with a victory, they’d have to do it without their star receiver CeeDee Lamb, who sat out with concussion protocol. 

The game kicked off at 6:44 p.m. By 8 p.m., thousands of televisions in Oklahoma had turned off or switched to another station. 

Baylor had taken a 28-3 lead over the Sooners in the game’s first 19 minutes of action. 

The Bears had a resurgence in 2019, Coach Matt Rhule’s third season. Baylor was undefeated at 9-0 and ranked two notches below Oklahoma at 10th in the College Football Playoff ranking. The buildup to this contest drew the presence of ESPN’s College Gameday show.

 

OU opened with a 39-yard field goal by Gabe Brkic. Then Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer sliced and diced the Sooners’ defense, throwing for two TDs and running for two more in the game’s first 19 minutes. Brewer completed 7 of 10 passing for 101 yards and ran for 62 yards, mostly from quarterback draws. 

OU quarterback Jalen Hurts was struggling at this point— he completed 6 of 9 but for 65 yards and an interception, and minus five yards rushing on seven carries. He was sacked four times. Hurts’ fumble on the Sooners’ 27 led to the Bears’ third touchdown. He later threw an interception that was returned 71 yards to the OU nine-yard line. Baylor capitalized in one play—a pass from Brewer to Denzel Mims for the 28-3 advantage. 

“Don’t touch that dial” was an old saying in the early days of TV before remote control. The expression was used to let people know that something good was coming after commercials and to continue watching the program. But today, people used their remotes to turn off the OU-Baylor game or switch to another channel. 

After the Bears scored their fourth touchdown with 11:02 until halftime, the Sooners marched 75 yards in 14 plays to close the gap to 28-10. Hurts delivered a five-yard scoring strike to Austin Stogner to end the drive. Baylor helped OU keep the drive alive when the Sooners faced fourth-and-five at the BU 33. Hurts’ pass to Charleston Rambo was incomplete, but Baylor’s Jameson Houston was whistled for holding, which gave Oklahoma a fresh set of downs at the 23.

 

The Bears threatened to the OU 11 on their next series but were forced to a field goal with three seconds until intermission. 

OU took the second-half kickoff and rolled 74 yards in 12 plays to trail, 31-17. Hurts, under pressure, fired a three-yard pass to Stogner, who dove into the end zone for the score. Hurts completed consecutive 12-yard passes to Lee Morris and a 28-yarder to Rambo on third down to keep the drive alive. 

On the Bears’ first play of the next possession, JaMycal Hasty found a hole up the middle to 18 yards, but Parnell Motley punched the ball from his grasp, and Pat Fields recovered at Baylor’s 45. The Sooners shined some crimson hope moving to the BU four-yard line. Hurts ran on a quarterback keeper, but James Lynch stripped the ball before Hurts crossed the goal line, and the Bears recovered in the end zone for a touchback. 

Hurts redeemed himself with a 19-yard scoring strike to Theo Wease early in the fourth period to cap a 90-yard drive in 13 plays. The freshman receiver caught the ball at the BU 14, eluded a trio of tacklers, and raced to the end zone. The Sooners were within a touchdown (31-24), and some TV sets returned to the ABC network in Oklahoma. OU picked up crucial first downs on third-down situations—Hurts completed a 15-yard pass to Morris and, three plays later, a 12-yard strike to Wease. 

Baylor then was forced to a second straight three-and-out and punted to OU’s 23-yard line. Oklahoma took 13 plays to cover 77 yards to tie the game. Hurts lobbed a two-yard TD pass to Brayden Willis, and the game was notched at 31-all with 5:25 to go.

 

The Bears were forced to punt again on their next series. The Sooners drove from their 27 to the BU 14 but stalled. Brkic toed a 31-yard field goal to give OU its first lead, 34-31, with 1:45 remaining. 

Brkic’s kickoff sailed into the end zone for a touchback giving the Bears 75 yards to tie or win the game. But they were fresh out of timeouts. 

Brewer completed an eight-yard pass to Mims, then Ronnie Perkins sacked Brewer for a three-yard loss. Baylor quickly sets up, and Brewer completes an out route to R.J Sneed for nine yards and a first down. 56 seconds to go. 

Brewer then connected a pass to Mims for 21 yards to the OU 40. The clock stopped temporarily at 47 seconds for officials to move the chains. On the next play, Sooner linebacker Nik Bonitto nearly intercepted Brewer’s pass at the OU 28. Bonitto got a second chance, however, a play later when he stepped in front of Baylor’s Josh Fleeks and picked off the pass at OU’s 38 to seal the victory. 

Oklahoma’s comeback was the largest deficit to overcome in the second half (31-10) against an opponent with a record of 9-0 or better. 

“We all felt like we had a chance,” Riley said. “Not one person on this sideline didn’t believe it. … You’ve still got to go make it happen.” 

The 25-point deficit (28-3) was the largest to overcome in Sooner football history, but Riley said coaches didn’t say much at halftime. 

“You never know 100 percent that you’re going to be able to come back from something like that, but I think they all felt like we had a chance. Give our kids credit. They made so many phenomenal plays. It would have been easy to pack up the tent tonight. 

OU amassed 368 yards in the second half to 69 for Baylor. 

In the game’s final 41 minutes, Hurts completed 23 of 33 for 218 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 116 yards. Brewer was 11 of 20 for 93 and carried the ball for only seven yards. Perkins had four tackles for OU’s defense, all for losses, including three sacks. 

Both teams would meet again in the Big 12 Championship Game three weeks later in Arlington, Texas. Oklahoma won the rematch, 30-23, in overtime, then went on to meet LSU in the semifinals of the College Football Playoffs. The Tigers routed OU, 63-28. The Sooners finished the season with a 12-2 record, 7th in the AP poll and 6th in the Coaches Poll. 

Baylor’s season ended with a 26-14 loss to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. The Bears finished with an 11-3 mark, 13th in the AP poll and 12th in the Coaches Poll. 

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