Playing his final game at McLane Stadium, an air of uncertainty surrounded Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty.
Nobody quite knew if the senior would be the same sharp, crisp quarterback a week after suffering a concussion.
Not only did Petty look better than ever Saturday night, he forever etched his name in Baylor history.
Passing for 412 yards and a touchdown, Petty propelled the No. 5 Bears to their second straight Big 12 championship with a 38-27 win over No. 9 Kansas State before an amped up crowd of 47,934 fans.
In a program that has produced quarterbacks like 2011 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, Don Trull and Neal and Jay Jeffrey, no Baylor quarterback had produced back-to-back conference titles before Petty pulled off the feat.
In the frigid final game at Floyd Casey Stadium last December, Petty led the Bears to a 30-10 win over Texas for their first Big 12 championship. Now he’s done it again as the Bears finished the regular season 11-1 overall and tied TCU for the Big 12 title with an 8-1 record.
“This is great, it really is,” Petty said. “I’m so proud of everyone in the locker room. There’s something about a brotherhood when you work so hard with each other and have a common goal that everybody is so committed to. When it happens, it’s the greatest feeling in the world.”
Though Baylor beat the Horned Frogs, 61-58, on Oct. 11 at McLane Stadium, the two teams will be recognized by the Big 12 as co-champions. Baylor fans booed Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby during the trophy celebration after the game.
Briles speaks mind
Baylor coach Art Briles also expressed his feelings to Bowlsby after the game. Briles believes the Bears should be recognized as the league’s champion.
“If the (Big 12) slogan says ‘One True Champion’ don’t say one thing and do another,” Briles said.
When the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Baylor players and fans swarmed each other to celebrate their repeat championship at their first-year stadium. And Petty was right in the middle of it after hitting 34 of 40 passes and also running for a touchdown.
Winning their 16th straight home game, the Bears became just the second team in Big 12 history to repeat as champions. Oklahoma won three straight titles from 2006-08.
Baylor will find out at 11:45 a.m. Sunday whether its résumé is good enough to make the four-team College Football Playoff.
Ranked No. 6 coming into the weekend, the Bears saw all five teams ahead of them — No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 TCU, No. 4 Florida State and No. 5 Ohio State — win their games this weekend.
But Briles believes the Bears stated their case by repeating as Big 12 champions.
“We did what we had to do,” Briles said. “We won what is arguably the best conference in America two years in a row. That’s a feat. It should have teeth in it. We probably had the best road win in the nation at Oklahoma, we beat a top five team (TCU), and a top 10 team (Kansas State). Find four better teams.”
With ESPN’s College GameDay broadcasting from outside of McLane Stadium on Saturday morning, the day began early for many Baylor fans. They were happy to stay late to see the Bears make history against the Wildcats (9-3, 7-2) who were shooting for the co-championship.
Petty went out in the middle of the third quarter of Baylor’s 48-46 win over Texas Tech last weekend at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. He underwent concussion tests throughout the week before he was cleared to play on Friday.
Petty was sharp from the start as he guided the Bears to 584 yards total offense against the Big 12’s top-ranked defense. Antwan Goodley made nine catches for 116 yards and a touchdown, while Shock Linwood rushed for 91 yards and a score.
After the Bears opened up a 24-14 halftime lead on Chris Callahan’s 46-yard field goal as time expired, they quickly stretched the lead when Petty found Goodley streaking downfield for a 58-yard touchdown.
Matthew McCrane answered with a 47-yard field goal for the Wildcats, but the Bears came back with a 72-yard drive that ended with Johnny Jefferson’s 3-yard touchdown run to open up a 38-20 lead with 4:56 left in the third quarter.
Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett to cut Baylor’s lead to 38-27 with 12:41 left in the game. But Xavien Howard intercepted Waters’ pass with 5:08 remaining at Baylor’s 19 to help put away the win.
Despite getting sacked four times, Waters enjoyed a tremendous night by hitting 22 of 27 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns.
With Petty hitting 24 of 29 passes for 260 yards, the Bears opened up a 24-14 halftime lead. The Bears rolled up 379 first-half yards compared to Kansas State’s 175.
Petty came out firing short and intermediate passes as he hit Corey Coleman for 12 and 10 yards before finding Levi Norwood for 12 to Kansas State’s 47.
Goodley broke through the middle for 33 yards. After hitting Coleman for 13 yards, Petty drove across for a 1-yard touchdown to finish off an eight-play, 81-yard drive with just 1:35 off the clock.
Baylor’s second drive also ate up 81 yards as Petty kept throwing crisp passes. But after moving to the 9, Petty tried to hit KD Cannon over the middle. Kansas State’s Randall Evans read it perfectly and made a diving interception in the end zone.
Undeterred by the turnover, the Bears drove 80 yards on their next possession. The biggest play was Petty’s pass to tight end Tre’Von Armstead for 29 yards to Kansas State’s 40.
The Bears picked up two more first downs before Linwood ran around right end for 8 yards before his knee hit at the 1 while he tried to stretch into the end zone.
After Kansas State stopped him twice, Linwood pushed across for a 2-yard touchdown run to open up a 14-0 lead with 1:12 left in the first quarter.
The Wildcats got their offense rolling on their next drive by moving 68 yards for a touchdown.
With Kansas State facing third-and-14, Baylor was called for pass interference to keep the drive alive. Baylor safety Terrell Burt bounced his head off the turf on the play, and was taken to the locker room and didn’t return to action after being diagnosed with a concussion.
Charles Jones finished off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run as the Wildcats cut Baylor’s lead to 14-7 with 10:47 left in the second quarter.
Once again, the Wildcats couldn’t slow down the Bears as they moved 70 yards on 11 plays for their third touchdown.
Petty completed seven passes before Linwood drove for 8 yards to the 2. On the next play, Johnny Jefferson rammed across for a 2-yard touchdown to lift the Bears to a 21-7 lead with 7:43 left in the first half.
But the Wildcats quickly struck back as Waters hit a Zach Trujillo streaking behind linebacker Taylor Young for a 36-yard touchdown to cut Baylor’s lead to 21-14 with 4:08 left in the second quarter.
Following a Kansas State punt, the Bears got the ball for the last time in the half at their own 23 with 44 seconds left.
Petty hit Goodley for 9 yards, Cannon for 13 and then Norwood for 23 yards to Kansas State’s 29 with four seconds remaining. Callahan nailed his 46-yard field goal as time expired to give the Bears a 24-14 halftime lead.