WACO — Nearly a year to the day after Baylor saw its national title hopes vanish into the Stillwater air against Oklahoma State, the No. 6 Bears avoided the same fate on a rainy evening Saturday in Waco.
And sealing the win was none other than Bryce Petty, whom the weather rendered ineffective as a passer but who managed a 21-yard touchdown scamper to clinch it in the final minutes of the game.
“Every one of those steps (I thought), ‘don’t trip, don’t trip, don’t trip, don’t trip, don’t trip,’” Petty said, referencing his self-induced fall on the way to the end zone that squandered a scoring chance against the Pokes last year.
Petty and the Bears didn’t trip Saturday, overcoming the weather for a 49-28 win, and on Sunday moved up to No. 5 in the AP poll, ahead of Big 12 co-leader TCU.
But the rankings that everyone in college football is waiting to see — the College Football Playoff rankings — will come out Tuesday, and after Saturday, there wasn’t exactly confidence that Baylor would be moving up from No. 7 in that ranking.
Even the Bears admitted it wasn’t the prettiest performance.
“It was sloppy,” receiver Corey Coleman said, “but the weather, we can’t control that, so we played the way we know to play — can’t worry about the weather.”
“The conditions were bad,” running back Devin Chafin added, “but we didn’t play to our fullest potential, I feel.”
Baylor responded to the weather by leaning on its running game, which ground Oklahoma State for 317 yards and five touchdowns.
But Oklahoma State had multiple chances to pull within a touchdown after the start of the second half until Baylor went up 35-14 on a Shock Linwood touchdown at the 3:57 mark in the third.
The Cowboys had a chance to pull within a touchdown again after scoring 14 straight early in the fourth before Orion Stewart picked off Mason Randolph on the ensuing OSU drive to end the rally attempt.
The final Petty touchdown gave Baylor a lopsided win, but even head coach Art Briles acknowledged that it was closer than that.
“It was quite a bit (tense),” Briles said. “Because we know firsthand how a game can just flip like that.”
Now, Baylor heads into the final two games of the regular season with its Big 12 fate in its hands but its College Football Playoff fate not so much.
And while the Bears have harped on not fretting over circumstances they can’t control — like a CFP committee that hasn’t treated it like a first-place team since the rankings’ first unveiling — they did a fine job of handling conditions out of their control Saturday in overcoming Mother Nature.
Briles, for one, certainly took notice.
“To me, that’s a big win for our guys,” Briles said. “I was really proud of them.”