With a chance to make the College Football Playoff for the first time and to possibly simplify the committee’s job, mistake-prone Oklahoma State fell flat on its face against Baylor as the Bears held on for a 21-16 win Saturday in the Big 12 Championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
With 24 seconds left, Dezmon Jackson’s attempt to stretch the ball over the goal line failed denying Oklahoma State its first conference title in a decade. The Cowboys had a first and goal at the Baylor 2 after marching down the field from their own 10-yard line with 3:23 remaining.
Baylor raced to a 21-3 lead thanks to redshirt freshman Blake Shapen, who was starting for an injured Gerry Bohahon. Shapen completed his first 17 passes in the first half, accounting for three touchdown passes. He finished 23-28 for 180 yards and was sacked five times.
Oklahoma State played without leading rusher Jaylen Warren, who sat out with a leg injury, and took an early 3-0 lead after cashing in on Trestan Ebner’s fumble but gave those points right back within minutes.
The first of Spencer Sanders’ four interceptions led to Shapen’s 2-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Ben Sims to get them on the board.
On Oklahoma State’s next possession, Sanders was picked off again, this time by Matt Jones. Three plays later, Shapen again found a wide open receiver in the end zone with Drew Estrada being the recipient of a 4-yard strike.
A questionable decision by Baylor coach Dave Aranda allowed the Cowboys to score its first touchdown. Instead of punting, Baylor went for it on a 4th and 1 from its own 36 and was stopped. Dominic Richardson’s 4-yard run and Tanner Brown’s 20-yard FG after recovering Ebner’s muffed punt, cut Baylor’s lead to 21-16 midway through the fourth quarter.
Sanders, who went 31-for-46 for 257 yards, threw three interceptions in a 24-14 win over Baylor earlier in the season. The defense held Baylor to 36 yards in the second half, but couldn’t overcome those mistakes Saturday.
The Cowboys and the Bears await their bowl assignments when they are announced Sunday afternoon.