WACO — Baylor fans stormed the field again Saturday and its players hoisted the Big 12 trophy amidst “one true champ” chants from the Bear faithful.
But will it matter?
Baylor became just the second team to win consecutive Big 12 titles Saturday with 38-27 victory against Kansas State at McLane Stadium.
But after the game, the conversation centered on if the Bears — who split the title with TCU — would be able to jump two spots in the College Football Playoff rankings to be able to compete for a national title.
“My case would be take the top 10 universities in the nation, put them on the wall, take the names off of them,” Baylor head coach Art Briles said, “and then look at the résumés and then find four that are better.”
Baylor (11-1, 8-1, No. 6 CFP) sealed its case by holding off a feisty Kansas State team that wasn’t completely vanquished until Baylor sophomore Xavien Howard picked off a Jake Waters pass in Baylor territory with 5:04 to play. It took that despite Baylor posting 584 yards of total offense, including 412 passing yards from senior Bryce Petty.
“They’re No. 9 in the country for a reason,” Briles said. “They’re good. They’re a well-coached football team that really plays within themselves.
Baylor punted just once in the first half and outgained the Wildcats 379-175 but only went into the locker room up 24-14 — and that was after a 46-yard field goal by Chris Callahan as time expired.
Kansas State opened the second half with a 24-yard field goal by Matthew McCrane to pull within a touchdown, but Baylor wouldn’t allow the Wildcats to get any closer. The next drive took just two plays and 26 seconds with Petty hitting senior Antwan Goodley for a 58-yard touchdown pass on the Baylor sideline.
Kansas State responded with a field goal again only for Baylor to respond with its fifth touchdown drive, this one capped by a 3-yard plunge by Johnny Jefferson, his second of the day.
One year after watching Baylor win its first Big 12 title from the sideline, the redshirt freshman from Shoemaker chipped in 46 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries to help the Bears win it again.
“Last year was a learning year, like I tell everybody, being able to sit down and learn some stuff,” Jefferson said. “This year was just so much special to me because I grew closer to the team and the seniors.
“I got to build a relationship with them and to just go out there and put myself on the line for them, even though I’m tired, and give them all I have to get them a second Big 12 championship.”
And while Baylor was happy after the game to join the 2008 Oklahoma Sooners as the only Big 12 teams to repeat as champions — “they can’t take away that feeling,” Petty said — the Bears weren’t shy about what they believe was the closing statement in a strong case to be in the inaugural College Football Playoff.
“What (Briles) told us in the team meeting room yesterday was give me ammunition,” Petty said. “These hats are our ammunition, so he’s going to run with it.”