STILLWATER, Okla. — Baylor knew all about Mason Rudolph’s remarkable passing accuracy, wide receiver James Washington’s game breaking speed and running back Justice Hill’s array of moves.
But like everyone else who has faced Oklahoma State’s prolific offense, knowing about it and actually stopping it are two different things. The Bears seemed helpless to contain the Cowboys all afternoon.
With Rudolph passing for 459 yards and three touchdowns, Washington making six catches for 235 yards and Hill rushing for 117, the No. 14 Cowboys ran away for a 59-16 blowout before a sellout crowd of 56,790 Saturday afternoon.
The Bears left the game with their heads spinning as the Cowboys amassed 747 total yards and averaged 10.5 yards per play.
“You can see why they’re the No. 2 offense in the country,” said Baylor coach Matt Rhule. “I thought Mason Rudolph was fantastic. The receivers made a lot of plays down the field, and I thought their back (Hill) was special. We played zone, we played man, we blitzed. We did everything we could do. They just made great plays in the passing game.”
Baylor rarely comes back from Boone Pickens Stadium with great stories to tell, and this game was no exception. The Cowboys (5-1, 2-1) beat the Bears (0-6, 0-3) for the 11th time in 12 Big 12 meetings in Stillwater, and most haven’t been close.
The lone Baylor win in Stillwater during the Big 12 era came two years ago when third-string quarterback Chris Johnson keyed a 45-35 win.
Baylor is off to its worst start since the 1969 team finished the season 0-10. The toughest part of the Bears’ schedule appears to be over after opening the Big 12 with losses to Oklahoma, Kansas State and Oklahoma State. But that doesn’t take the sting out of another lost weekend.
Despite their struggles, the Baylor players still believe they win games this season. Baylor’s next two games are at McLane Stadium against West Virginia on Oct. 21 and Texas on Oct. 28.
“It’s awful losing this many times,” said Baylor quarterback Zach Smith. “But we’re going to come back and we’re going to get better. I think y’all have seen that every single time we’ve come back and fought, so we’re going to keep doing that and have each other’s backs.”
During their first five losses, the Bears hung close enough to have a shot to win in the fourth quarter. But this game was much different as the Bears trailed the Cowboys, 45-16, at the end of the third quarter, and it kept getting worse.
“At the end of the day, Oklahoma State was just better than us,” Rhule said. “We have to be honest with ourselves. In a lot of games, we were able to hang in there but today we weren’t able to hang in there. We have to get better and we recognize that.”
While the Bears had a solid day running the ball with 219 yards, Smith had trouble throwing the ball all afternoon as he hit 11 of 28 for 127 yards with one interception and no touchdowns.
“They were getting a lot of pressure and for the most part we blocked them,” Smith said. “But I had some guys come in here and there. We had a couple of guys who were open and I couldn’t get it to them. That’s on me. They’re a pretty good team and they outplayed us today.”
The Bears came out of the gates with the game plan they needed to upset the Cowboys as they got their running game rolling and ate up the clock.
They drove 75 yards on 12 plays behind the strong running of freshman John Lovett and junior Terence Williams who helped the Bears amass 57 yards rushing on the drive.
Baylor got a break when freshman Trestan Ebner scored his first touchdown after Smith fumbled into the end zone. The Bears took 6:37 off the clock to grab a 7-0 lead.
“One thing we felt we could do was run the ball on their defense,” said Baylor tight end Jordan Feuerbacher. “I thought we showed what we could do on the first drive, and then we hit a couple of bumps after that. We basically made our whole game plan around running the ball. I feel like we dedicated more time to it in the bye week, and those couple of things made a difference.”
Things kept going Baylor’s way when Timarcus Davis recovered Jalen McCleskey’s fumbled punt at Oklahoma State’s 37. But the Bears failed to capitalize when Justin Phillips forced Smith to fumble and Cole Walterscheid recovered at Oklahoma’s 48.
The Cowboys cashed in as Marcell Ateman turned a short pass from Rudolph into a 38-yard touchdown after Baylor cornerback Grayland Arnold missed a tackle.
Oklahoma State got a favorable call when Washington made a 45-yard catch down the right sideline. On the replay, it appeared that he didn’t get a foot inbounds but the play stood.
On the third play of the second quarter, Rudolph threw a perfect 25-yard touchdown pass over the middle to McCleskey to give the Cowboys a 14-7 lead.
The Bears responded with an 11-play, 55-yard drive that ended with Connor Martin’s 38-yard field goal to cut Oklahoma State’s lead to 14-10 with 9:18 left in the second quarter.
But the Cowboys showed their explosiveness again when Hill broke away down the left sideline for a 79-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 21-10.
“The long run really hurt,” Rhule said. “We were in position to make some tackles, and we didn’t make those tackles. They made some great personal efforts to make plays at the crucial time. You can tell they’re a put-together group.”
Ateman was the star of Oklahoma State’s next drive as he made catches of 33 and 40 yards to set up Rudolph’s 1-yard touchdown run.
The Cowboys weren’t through in the first half as Rudolph found Washington for a 43-yard pass to set up J.D. King’s 1-yard touchdown run to open up a 35-10 lead with 37 seconds left in the second quarter.
Despite moving the ball against Oklahoma State’s defense throughout the third quarter, the Bears had to settle for a pair of Martin field goals.
Once again, Washington burned Baylor’s defense as he got loose over the middle for a 68-yard touchdown pass from Rudolph to open up a 45-16 lead.
Washington scored again when he took a lateral from Rudolph and ran for a 2-yard touchdown to give the Cowboys a 52-16 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter.
With Rudolph getting the rest of the day off, backup quarterback Taylor Cornelius broke loose for a 40-yard touchdown with 10:37 left in the game.
Despite their most lopsided loss of the season, Rhule believes his squad still has a lot of motivation as the Bears enter the second half of the season.
“Those guys aren’t quitting,” Rhule said. “They’ll compete and fight, and there’s no question that they’ve got motivation. Those guys in the locker room are about everything that’s right about Baylor.”