ARLINGTON — Coming into Saturday’s Big 12 opener, quarterback Seth Russell said one of Baylor’s goals was to put up 100 points on somebody.
That somebody wasn’t Texas Tech, but for a while that outlandish number didn’t seem out of reach.
By the end of the first quarter, Baylor was on a 1,300-yard, 112-point pace. There was no way the No. 5 Bears could keep that up, but they produced more than enough offense to romp to a 63-35 win before 56,179 fans at AT&T Stadium.
The Bears (4-0) amassed 333 first-quarter yards as they opened up a 28-14 lead. The accelerated start set the tone the Bears wanted as they finished with 680 yards en route to their fifth straight win over the Red Raiders (3-2, 0-2).
“We come out fast and stay fast,” Russell said. “It just shows how dominant we can be on the offensive side of the ball. To have that many yards in the first quarter, it’s huge for both offense and defense. It’s something we can grow on.”
Russell completed 15 of 23 for 286 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for 81 yards and two touchdowns. Equally important to Baylor’s offense was Shock Linwood who rushed for a career-high 221 yards on 20 carries, highlighted by a career-long 79-yard touchdown run for Baylor’s first touchdown.
Linwood ran through huge holes all night, courtesy of a veteran offensive line. After piling up 368 rushing yards, the Bears proved once again they’re not just a passing team.
“They come in thinking we’re pass happy and we come in and hit them in the mouth,” Baylor All-America offensive tackle Spencer Drango said. “We know we can run it and we know teams are going to try to adjust and stop that. But if they do load up the box, we’ll throw it deep on them.”
After catching eight touchdown passes in the first three games, Baylor receiver Corey Coleman delivered another brilliant performance as he made seven catches for 110 yards and three touchdowns. Coleman has already matched the 11 touchdown catches he made last season.
“I’m a really passionate player and I like to win and compete and be the best,” Coleman said. “When the ball is thrown my way, every time I think go score a touchdown. The receivers and the passing game did a great job, so when you have equal passing and rushing it makes the offense hard to stop.”
Though the Red Raiders finished with 636 yards, the Bears had some key stops and forced four turnovers. Xavien Howard returned an interception 46 yards to set up a second-quarter touchdown while Travon Blanchard intercepted a third-quarter pass.
Safeties Orion Stewart and Chance Waz came up with fumble recoveries.
“The coaches always preach that takeaways will kill momentum,” Blanchard said. “They preach to us to get the ball back into the offense’s hands and let them score points. We did that today.”
Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes hit 32 of 50 for 415 yards and three touchdowns with no sacks, but he was often hurried by Baylor’s pressure. Baylor’s defensive line rotation was short since tackle Byron Bonds didn’t play after breaking his hand last week against Rice.
“Mahomes is just impossible to tackle,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “If you can disrupt a little bit, then you got a chance. That’s all you can really ask for is a relentless effort and hope something good happens.”
Unlike their two games last season at AT&T Stadium, the Bears didn’t have to sweat it out in the fourth quarter.
The Bears survived a Texas Tech rally to pull off a 48-46 win last November and then watched a 20-point lead slip away against Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl in a 42-41 loss on New Year’s Day.
“When you have them against the ropes, you have to go for the kill,” Blanchard said. “You can’t let up. You can’t have them get any energy or have them have any idea of coming back.”
Scoring on seven of their first eight possessions, the Bears blew out to a 49-21 halftime lead. Russell threw for 251 first-half yards and three touchdowns while Linwood amassed 169 rushing yards and two scores.
Linwood gave a sign of things to come when he roared up the middle for a 79-yard touchdown just 65 seconds into the game.
“I just give the credit to the O-line,” Linwood said. “Whenever a play is called, we just execute it pretty good. Whenever I hit the seam, I’ve just got to hit the burners and go forward.”
The Red Raiders responded with Mahomes’ 55-yard touchdown pass to Zach Austin, but Russell came back with a 40-yard pass to Coleman and a 28-yard touchdown pass to KD Cannon.
After the Red Raiders failed to score, Taylor Symmank pinned the Bears at their own 8 with a 36-yard punt. That didn’t faze the Bears as they drove 92 yards for a touchdown with Russell finishing it off with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Coleman over the middle to open up a 21-7 lead.
Mahomes made one of his best passes of the game on a fourth-down play when he eluded blitzing Baylor linebacker Grant Campbell and hit Cameron Batson for a 37-yard touchdown.
But the Bears weren’t through scoring in the first quarter as Russell hit Jay Lee streaking down the right sideline for 87 yards to set up Russell’s 2-yard touchdown run that opened up a 28-14 lead.
By the end of the first quarter, the Bears already had 333 yards total offense on touchdown drives of 85, 75, 92 and 89 yards.
“I think it just showed we were ready, we were intense, we were determined,” Briles said. “I thought Seth was really sharp. I thought our offensive line did a great job.”
But Baylor’s defense made it easier for the offense in the second quarter beginning with Stewart’s fumble recovery after hitting DeAndre Washington at the Bears’ 41.
Three plays later, the Bears were back in the end zone as Linwood popped loose for 38 yards and Russell hit Gus Penning for 13 before Linwood finished it off by plowing for an 8-yard touchdown.
Howard intercepted a Mahomes’ pass and returned it down the left sideline 46 yards to the 10. Campbell was penalized 15 yards for a personal foul to push the ball back to Texas Tech’s 25.
Russell found Coleman for a 16-yard touchdown to lift the Bears to a 42-14 lead with 8:22 left in the second quarter.
“Getting the turnovers was a real big deal because it helped the offense score,” Baylor linebacker Taylor Young said. “It was part of the game plan to try to put pressure on Mahomes. He did a great job throwing the ball, but it was our job to get him uncomfortable.”
Tech came back with Mahomes’ 13-yard touchdown pass to Tony Brown who wrestled the ball away from Baylor cornerback Ryan Reid.
But Russell did most of the heavy lifting on Baylor’s next drive as he scrambled for 26 yards and hit Lee for 23. He ended the drive by faking out the Tech defense and sprinting into the end zone untouched for a 2-yard touchdown to give the Bears a 49-21 halftime lead.
Though the defenses didn’t rule the second half, the scoring slowed considerably.
The Red Raiders scored the first time they got the ball as they moved 78 yards with Mahomes scrambling for a 25-yard touchdown.
Johnny Jefferson came back with a 6-yard touchdown run to complete Baylor’s 11-play, 75-yard drive to push the lead to 56-28 with 8:25 left in the third quarter.
Coleman caught his third touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, a 16-yarder that gave the Bears a 63-28 lead with 11:57 remaining.
After watching some wild Baylor-Texas Tech games in the past, Briles thought it was important to build a cushion in the fourth quarter.
“It’s just the way it has been in the last four or five years,” Briles said. “You can’t breathe for a half-second. I mean the pedal is all the way down. If you had any hair, it’s blowing backwards, and you are just screaming the whole time.”