Baylor holds on for Big 12 title, knocks Okla St out of CFP

Dec 3, 2021, 11:07 PM | Updated: Dec 4, 2021, 8:58 pm
Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen (12) celebrates on the field after they defeated Oklahoma State in ...

Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen (12) celebrates on the field after they defeated Oklahoma State in an NCAA college football game for the Big 12 Conference championship in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Tim Heitman)

(AP Photo/Tim Heitman)

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dezmon Jackson came up inches short on a desperate, fourth-down dive in the final seconds for Oklahoma State, knocking the fifth-ranked Cowboys out of contention for a spot in the four-team playoff.

“Just heartbreak,” Cowboys guard Josh Sills said.

Baylor safety Jairon McVea knocked Jackson out of bounds without letting him reach the pylon with 24 seconds remaining in the Big 12 championship game Saturday, preserving a 21-16 victory for the ninth-ranked Bears a year after they won only two games in coach Dave Aranda’s debut season.

“This moment is something they can never take away,” Bears linebacker Terrel Bernard said.

After the Bears (11-2, CFP No. 9) won their third Big 12 title, they didn’t get the chaos needed for them to have a chance to make the final four for the first time in the College Football Playoff rankings Sunday.

Alabama (CFP No. 3) and Georgia (CFP No. 1) were likely set for the playoff after the Crimson Tide handed the Bulldogs their first loss in the SEC title game. Michigan (CFP No. 2) overwhelmed Iowa in the Big Ten title game, and future Big 12 team Cincinnati (CFP No. 4) remained the only undefeated team by winning the American Athletic Conference.

Aranda recalled Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy telling him “that winning is hard” before an earlier meeting between the teams. The Big 12 title game was a sure example of that.

Blake Shapen, starting again for injured quarterback Gerry Bohanon (right hamstring) threw three TDs while completing his first 17 passes as Baylor took a 21-3 lead in the first half.

But the Cowboys (11-2, CFP No. 5) rallied back, then went 89 yards on 17 plays on that final drive before coming up just shy.

After having first-and-goal from 2 following a pass interference penalty, Jackson gained a yard and was held for no gain before an incomplete pass by Spencer Sanders.

On fourth down from the 1, Jackson tried to sweep wide left, but with McVea in pursuit, he barely missed while trying to reach the pylon in the front corner of the end zone.

“When I saw the running back with the ball, I thought I’ve got to run this guy down,” said McVea, who wasn’t even sure where the ball was when the tackle was made. “The ref signaled not a touchdown, so when I saw that I was pretty happy.”

Gundy said Baylor made a good play and that, “It’s not 27´s fault,” referring to Jackson.

Sanders threw four interceptions, one by McVea, and the Cowboys were without leading rusher Jaylen Warren because of his lingering ankle and shoulder issues.

Baylor’s 11 wins match a school record and came after the 2-7 record last year, when the pandemic wiped out spring drills when Aranda was coming off a national championship as LSU’s defensive coordinator.

The Bears won with 242 total yards of offense, only 36 after halftime. Shapen finished 23 of 28 for 180 yards passing overall.

Oklahoma State led 3-0 on Tanner Brown’s 23-yard field goal set up after all-purpose back Trestan Ebner fumbled on a run for Baylor on the opening drive of the game. Sanders threw picks on the next two drives, setting up Baylor with short fields for three-play TD drives — a 2-yard TD pass to wide-open tight open Ben Sims and Drew Estrada’s 4-yard scoring catch.

Baylor’s 21-3 lead, and the Cowboys’ largest deficit this season, came after an incredible diving 13-yard TD catch by Tyquan Thornton with a defender on his back with 5 1/2 minutes left in the first half.

The Cowboys got within 21-16 on Brown’s 20-yard field goal with 8:17 left. That was set up after Ebner muffed a punt recovered by Korie Black, who had ended the first half by deflecting a field goal attempt that came up woefully short.

McVea had his interception early in the second half, but Baylor failed to get a first down. Instead of punting from their own 36, the Bears went for it on fourth down and Shapen had to just throw the ball away without an open receiver. Eight plays later, Dominic Richardson scored on a 4-yard run for the Cowboys.

“I told the team in the locker room how proud I was that they’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do since January,” Gundy said. “Came up just a few inches short.”


The Bears finished last season with a 42-3 home loss to Oklahoma State.

Asked if he could contrast the way last season ended with how his second year played out, Aranada simply said: “No.”


Baylor: The Bears won the 2013 Big 12 title outright and shared in 2014 with TCU, both of those coming during a six-season stretch when there wasn’t a championship game for the conference. Baylor lost to Oklahoma in the title game two years ago.

Oklahoma State: Sanders had seven interceptions in the two games this season against Baylor, though the Cowboys won the first meeting 24-14 on Oct. 2. The first pick Saturday was right to the defender, and the second one was picked off by leaping linebacker Matt Jones when Sanders was pressured and tried to throw off his back foot toward the sideline. The other two interceptions were tipped passes. … Oklahoma State had only 70 yards rushing on 40 carries (1.8 yards per carry).


Baylor: Headed to their second Sugar Bowl in three years.

Oklahoma St.: Waiting to find out which bowl game awaits.


More AP college football: and Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter:

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Sacramento State beats Colorado State 41-10

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — Asher O’Hara ran for two touchdowns and passed for another to lead Sacramento State to a 41-10 rout of Colorado State on Saturday. The victory gave the Hornets, ranked sixth in the FCS coaches poll, their first 3-0 start since 1992 and first win over an FBS program since 2012. […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Elon comes from 15 down in 4th to beat William & Mary 31-16

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) — Jalen Hampton ran for two of his three touchdowns in the fourth quarter as Elon erased a 15-point deficit after three quarters to earn a 35-31 win over William & Mary in the Colonial Athletic Association opener for both schools Saturday. Both teams came into the game with 3-0 records. Darius […]
17 hours ago
New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom, left, stands on the mound as Oakland Athletics' Seth B...
Associated Press

Mets ace deGrom knocked around in 10-4 loss to Athletics

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Jacob deGrom got hit around and lasted a season-low four innings, and the New York Mets lost 10-4 to the Oakland Athletics on Saturday to miss a chance to create some distance in the NL East race. DeGrom (5-3) was tagged for five runs and four walks — the worst start […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

James Madison shuts out Appalachian State in 2nd half in win

BOONE, N.C. (AP) — Todd Centeio accounted for three touchdowns and James Madison scored 22 unanswered points in the second half to beat Appalachian State 32-28 on Saturday. Centeio scored on a 2-yard run late in the third quarter and then threw a 36-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Greene Jr. that pulled James Madison (3-0, […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

DeLaurent’s 3 TDs help SE Missouri St. beat Central Arkansas

GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — Paxton DeLaurent passed for 252 yards and two touchdowns, and he rushed for 60 yards and a score to help Southeast Missouri State beat Central Arkansas 35-27 on Saturday. DeLaurent’s 11-yard keeper with 10:57 remaining in the fourth quarter gave SEMO a 35-20 lead. The Bears, trailing 35-27, had it on […]
17 hours ago
Minnesota's Daniel Jackson, right, catches a pass for a touchdown against Michigan State's Charles ...
Associated Press

Minnesota dominates Michigan State 34-7 in Big Ten opener

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Tanner Morgan threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns and Mohamed Ibrahim rushed for 103 yards and a score to lead Minnesota to a 34-7 rout over struggling Michigan State in the Big Ten opener for both schools. The Gophers (4-0) are off to their best start since they began […]
17 hours ago
Baylor holds on for Big 12 title, knocks Okla St out of CFP