On a night in which Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota's Heisman hopes took a big hit, Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty put himself into the Heisman conversation. He also put the Bears in the national title discussion.
The Bears (8-0), who were sixth in this week's BCS standings, dominated No. 10 Oklahoma, 41-12, in a Big 12 showdown Thursday night. Petty ran for two touchdowns and threw for three more, giving him 21 TD passes against just one interception this season.
It was Baylor's second-ever win over Oklahoma; the other came in 2011 with Robert Griffin III at quarterback. OU leads the series 21-2.
Baylor moved to 5-0 in league play and has outscored its conference foes 279-100. The Bears and Texas are the only Big 12 teams unbeaten in conference action.
Baylor started slowly Thursday, especially for a team that came in averaging 63.9 points and 717.3 yards per game. Skeptics probably were wondering whether the good start was a mirage; after all, the Bears had played no ranked teams and their opponents' combined record was 18-20. But the Bears scored three TDs in the final 7:01 of the first half to break it open -- they scored twice in the final minute, taking advantage of an Oklahoma interception with 48 seconds left.
Why the Sooners, who had been woeful on offense, were trying to throw the ball at that point in the second quarter is a huge mystery -- one the OU coaches can ponder as they try to figure out how to salvage a top-three finish in the Big 12, which is as down as it ever has been.
The Bears finished with 459 total yards, their second-lowest total all season. They had 446 yards (and 35 points) in beating Kansas State by 10 points on Oct. 12.
Petty was just 13 of 26 for 204 yards, but he was sharper in the second half. In addition, his success on the read option in the second quarter opened up Baylor's offense and ultimately forced OU to play defense differently. Oklahoma's safeties had to respect the run, and Baylor's receivers then were able to win some one-on-one matchups. Petty rushed for 45 yards on the night; he had run for just 73 total yards in the first seven games.
Baylor's defense had relatively good numbers coming into the game. Still, it was a unit that had surrendered 42 points to West Virginia. Thursday, Baylor limited Oklahoma to 237 total yards and allowed the Sooners to go just 4 of 17 on third-down conversions.
Baylor is 8-0 for the first time in school history and now is riding a 12-game winning streak.
Thursday's contest was the first in a huge three-game stretch for Baylor, which plays Texas Tech in Arlington, Texas, on Nov. 16 and at Oklahoma State on Nov. 23. After what should be an easy game against TCU on Nov. 30, the Bears finish the regular season at home against Texas on Dec. 7.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.