Baylor wins its first ever Big 12 Football Championship game title behind QB Blake Sharpen 3 TDs
Baylor is the second team in conference history to win the Big 12 Football Championship title game after having a losing record the previous season (2-7). Baylor’s four picks today set a Big 12 Football Championship record as they end Oklahoma State’s chances at a possible playoff spot with a 21-16 victory.
Bears quarterback Blake Sharpen, second in completion percentage at 82.1 to Texas’ Vince Young 82.4 in Big 12 Championship game history, went 23-28 for 180 yards and 3 touchdowns tying Kyler Murry for second in touchdown passes. Sharpen went for a perfect 17-of-17 in the first half, setting a new Big 12 Football Championship and AT&T Stadium record for the most consecutive completions.
“This is something you dream about as a little kid growing up,” said Sharpen. “We wouldn't be in this position without Gerry and the things that he's done for this team moving forward. My job was just to replace him and try not to lose a beat, so that was the main thing.”
Bears starting quarterback Gerry Bohanon suffered a leg injury against Kansas State. “Gerry has carried this team all the way to this point, and my job was just to finish it out, and I'm so proud of him,” Sharpen continued. “Sometimes I'm thinking about all this glory or whatever it is, but Gerry should get it just as much as I'm getting right now. I'm so proud for the whole team.”
Another deciding factor in the game was turnovers. The Bears scored three touchdowns in the first half. Each of those touchdown drives started in Oklahoma State territory. Two of those three drives came immediately after OSU turnovers. Baylor’s four picks today set a Big 12 Football Championship record. The Bears held a 12th opponent below their season scoring average, holding Oklahoma State 15.8 points below their season average.
“You're looking at guys who run to the football every time they're on the field,” said Baylor Coach Dave Aranda. “You look at the competitions that we have, the one-on-ones versus the offense, and sometimes you gear to the offense because we're not tackling those guys or we're not doing all this.”
Bear’s defense leads the Big 12 in interceptions this season with 16, and ranks second in the league in scoring defense (20-4). “We attack the ball every single day,” said Baylor linebacker Terrel Bernard, “and we were getting pressure on the quarterback, forcing him to make kind of contested throws and try to fit things into tight spaces, and we were in the right place at the right time sometimes, came up with it, and I think that changed the game.”
The Bears held a 12th opponent below their season scoring average, holding Oklahoma State 15.8 points below their season average. “We had did it earlier in the game, so we knew we could do it, and we had the right calls in,” Bernard continued. “We knew that they were going to try to run the ball. They took a shot kind of later on and Pitre broke up the play at the back of the end zone. Just physicality, toughness, and bowing our necks once we got down there. We weren't going to give up. We weren't going to just let them walk in. Big 12 Championship was on the line, and we came up huge at the end and were able to keep them out.”
With 1,000-yard rusher Jaylen Warren and three-time all-conference center Danny Godlevske out, Oklahoma State had difficulty in the run game and finished with 70 yards on 40 carries (1.8 average).
“After the first series. I knew he wasn't going to be himself, so we moved forward. Does it really change the running game? I don't know. Doesn't change the calls. The calls are going to stay the same, said Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn on how the running game changed with running back Jaylen Warren out.”
“He is an energizer out there for us, and he is great in protection, and he seems to squeak out just unforeseen yards, so, yeah, it stings. It's like losing your best receiver,” Dunn continued. “I mean, it hurts. Or losing your quarterback or whatever. He is just a great attitude, positive attitude on the field and on the sideline, so to lose him from the game, yeah, it hurt us for sure. Just how he carries himself, the expectation to win, the expectation to move the football.”
After a blocked field goal, a turnover on downs forced by the Cowboys defense, a recovered a muffed punt by the Big 12’s leading punt returner, Trestan Ebner, limiting Baylor to a season-low 242 yards of offense, and six sacks (most allowed by Baylor all season), was not enough for Oklahoma State to secure the win and their playoff hopes.
“We struggled rushing the ball, and it made us a little one-dimensional, and when you are one-dimensional, protection is not as easy, said Oklahoma State Coach Mike Gundy. “Then in the end we had guys make plays. Spencer moved around and dumped the ball off. 27 made some plays and made some catches. We were able to manufacture some yards and get right down there. We just came up little short.”
Oklahoma State went on a 10-0 run and ended up just inches from recording the second-largest come-from-behind win in school history.
Baylor notched its fourth win over a top-25 opponent on Saturday, its most top-25 wins in a season since 1974.