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Baylor Drops Big 12 Championship Rematch to Oklahoma State

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Oklahoma State running back Jaden Nixon celebrates his kickoff return for a touchdown against Baylor in the second half in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Waco, Texas. Oklahoma State defeated Baylor 36-25. | Image by Rod Aydelotte, Associated Press

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The No.9 Oklahoma State Cowboys (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) scored twice from the 1-yard line and got a 98-yard kickoff return touchdown from Jaden Nixon to end the No.16 Baylor Bears’ nine-game home winning streak with a 36-25 win Saturday. 

Nixon’s 98-yard kickoff return to open the second half gave the Cowboys a 23-3 lead and started a flurry of 39 combined points in the third quarter.

“Third quarter was like a video game,” Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy said.

After Nixon’s return, Baylor (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) responded with a 49-yard touchdown pass from Blake Shapen to Monaray Baldwin, who also added a 70-yard catch-and-run score on a fourth-down play later in the third. 

True freshman Richard Reese had a 1-yard touchdown run on a short drive set up when Christian Morgan intercepted Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders. All of a sudden, the Bears had clawed back to make it a one-score ballgame, 23-17, with less than eight minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The Cowboys quickly responded. Aided by a 50-yard kickoff return by Brennan Presley, it took Oklahoma State just two plays to score a touchdown, with Braydon Johnson hauling in a highlight reel 49-yard grab down the right sideline before Dominic Richardson ran it in from the 1-yard line to make it 30-17.

The Cowboys added a 19-yard field goal after Shapen’s fourth-down incompletion from the Baylor 33 gave Oklahoma State a short field. Brown would add a 26-yard field goal with under five minutes to go in the fourth quarter to make the score 36-25. 

“I’m proud of our team for the second half we had and the ability to start that third quarter with some emotion and energy, which frankly was missing in the first and second quarter,” Baylor head coach Dave Aranda said. “I think there’s a lot of confidence with (OSU). And I would probably call that grounded confidence. I think we’re not there yet.”

Shapen threw for a career-high 345 yards and a pair of touchdowns but had two fourth-quarter interceptions as the Bears lost at home for the first time since a 42-3 loss to Oklahoma State at the end of a COVID-affected 2020 season. Baldwin finished with seven receptions for 174 yards, while Reese added 85 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown. 

The Cowboys also beat Baylor in the regular season matchup last year but came up inches short of their first conference title since 2011 when the Bears made a fourth-down stop just short of the end zone in the final seconds of the Big 12 championship game.

Sanders threw seven interceptions in his two games against Baylor last season, including four in the Big 12 title game, but he was more efficient this time. He finished 20-of-29 passing for 181 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also ran 14 times for 75 yards with a 1-yard touchdown run.

“This game was definitely more personal for me, and I just made sure I did everything I could to hold myself accountable,” Sanders said.

The Cowboys never trailed after taking a 7-3 lead after the opening drive on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Sanders to Bryson Green. In the end, Oklahoma State showed they are true contenders in the Big 12 as they rose to the challenges of playing their first-ranked opponent and their first game away from home this season. 

“That’s a big win. … It just shows that the young guys stepped up, you know, did their job,” Sanders said. “That’s a great team to win against, especially on the road in their own house.”

A week after opening Big 12 play with a win at Iowa State, the Bears could not match that at home, despite holding a decisive advantage in total offensive yards, 457-379. Baylor only held the lead after a field goal on the game’s opening drive.

“We definitely had points where we were low on that (energy level) throughout the game,” Bears starting left tackle Connor Galvin said. “At those times, we had to take a deep breath and like ‘alright guys, let’s pick it back up.’ Let’s go. Let’s fix the issue on the field.”

Next, Oklahoma State plays Texas Tech Saturday at home. Meanwhile, Baylor will have a bye week before traveling to face West Virginia (2-3, 0-2) on Thursday, October 13.

The Mountaineers were blown out by Texas, 38-20, in Austin Saturday and will also have a bye week before hosting the Bears.        

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