MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

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November 9, 2013

Baylor undefeated and decisively defensive

WACO, Texas — Baylor is still undefeated, and quite defensive about it.

When their fast-paced, high-scoring offense sputtered early, the fifth-ranked Bears’ largely overshadowed but consistently solid defense kept stopping No. 12 Oklahoma.

While the Bears (8-0, 5-0 Big 12) finished with a lopsided 41-12 victory Thursday night, Oklahoma managed only a field goal despite seven plays at the 12 or closer over consecutive drives before Baylor scored three touchdowns in the final 7 minutes of the first half — two in a 47-second span just before the break.

“Defensively, they really were all over us all day,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “Everyone talks about their offense, which is really good. But I knew that their defense is really good.”

Oklahoma (7-2, 4-2) was held to 237 total yards, its lowest total in an 85-game span since the 2007 season. The Sooners lost yardage on eight plays, got nothing on five more and had six plays gaining only 1 yard. They converted on third down only four of 17 times.

“Our defense played outstanding,” Bears quarterback Bryce Petty said. “One of the best games I think I’ve ever seen them play. They keep us in it. ... Any time that we can get a stop on defense, then swing back over to us, it helps us out a lot.”

Petty accounted for five touchdowns, throwing three and running for two more. Both his rushing TDs came in that late first-half surge, including a 5-yard keeper that put the Bears ahead to stay at 10-5.

Right after Petty added a 1-yard run with a minute left in the first half, Baylor linebacker Eddie Lackey had an interception at the Sooners 38. That set up Petty’s 24-yard TD pass to Antwan Goodley, who made a spectacular catch with his arms fully extended going into the end zone to make it 24-5.

The Sooners went three-and-out on each of its first two series after halftime, gaining only 4 yards on six plays, before Petty threw a 17-yard TD pass to Levi Norwood.

Not long after the Bears won, second-ranked Oregon suffered its first loss of the season, 26-20 at No. 6 Stanford.  That leaves top-ranked Alabama, No. 3 Florida State and No. 4 Ohio State, all traditional powers, as the only undefeated teams ahead of Baylor.

Baylor coach Art Briles, who six years ago took over a team with 12 consecutive losing seasons, isn’t get too caught up in all that.

“We’ve played eight football games and when the season started, we were not ranked,” Briles said. “Everything we’ve done, we’ve earned it up to this point.”

The Bears have won a school-record 12 games in a row — the equivalent of a full regular season — since losing at Oklahoma last November. They are 8-0 for the first time with the league’s top offense and best defense, allowing only 306 yards and 15 points a game.

Before the Bears return home in a month for their final game ever at Floyd Casey Stadium — Dec. 7 for a potential Big 12 title-deciding game against Texas — they play 25th-ranked Texas Tech at the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium before games at No. 15 Oklahoma State and rival TCU.

Next for Oklahoma is its home finale against Iowa State before trips to Kansas State and Oklahoma State.

The Sooners’ longest drive before halftime in Waco was nine plays for 69 yards, but 53 of those yards were courtesy of Baylor penalties. There was 15 yards for roughing the passer on a third-down play that gave Oklahoma a first down, then later on that drive three penalties for 38 yards on the same play that set the Sooners up at the 7.

Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell was tackled for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Two plays later, Petty was sacked in the end zone for a safety and the Sooners were back to the 12 after Jalen Saunders returned the free kick 55 yards. But the Sooners failed to get a first down and had to settle for a field goal and a 5-3 lead.

“I hope that it’ll change the outlook on our defense, and it’ll change the outlook on our whole team,” safety Ahmad Dixon said. “Even though our defense did step up, this was a team win and our offense, even though they started out slow, they did a great job picking it up.”

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