"Game control" has been the buzz phrase around college football circles ever since College Football Playoff selection committee chairman Jeff Long mentioned it on Tuesday.
Perhaps Baylor, a team on the outside of the playoff looking in, listened.
The Bears struck quickly early and rode a big-play defense in order to cruise to a 49-28 victory that was nothing other than an impressive Big 12 win for Baylor.
Quarterback Bryce Petty appeared to put away the game from the get-go, dropping in two long touchdowns on his first five snaps. The pair of scores gave the team a quick double-digit lead after just 69 seconds on the field spanning two drives. Things were not that easy the rest of the way for the signal-caller, but it was still a solid showing by the senior despite two interceptions on the night.
Head coach Art Briles seemed to recognize that while Petty could just as easily throw it over the top of the Cowboys defense, the Bears' offense could find some clock-churning success on the ground, too. Shock Linwood rushed for 113 yards to lead the team and added a touchdown run while sophomore tailback Devin Chafin chipped in for an even more impressive 106 yards and three scores.
Oklahoma State has struggled this season on offense, and that continued with true freshman QB Mason Rudolph making his first start of the year after the coaching staff elected to pull his redshirt due to injuries at the position. He finished with 281 yards and two touchdowns, showing a number of flashes that will be beneficial to the Cowboys down the road, but also tossed two interceptions.
Part of Rudolph's issues were due to pressure he faced from Baylor's defense. Star defensive end Shawn Oakman was a constant presence off the edge and recorded two sacks and a forced fumble. Mammoth defensive tackle Andrew Billings added another game to his case for All-Big 12 honors in a dominant performance. At one point he so throughly abused the opposing offensive line that he was in the backfield before a running back knew what was happening on a third-down play.
The impressive win should help Baylor continue to close the gap on the host of playoff contenders ahead of them, as they can argue after Saturday night there are few teams as balanced as the Bears on both sides of the ball.