Baylor coach Dave Aranda was well aware of the Big 12 ramifications for his ninth-ranked Bears in the outcome of a game later in the evening. In many ways, that didn’t really matter to him.
Blake Shapen threw for 254 yards and two touchdowns in his first start, Abram Smith ran for 117 yards with a score and the Bears held to beat Texas Tech 27-24 on Saturday for their 10th win, which kept alive their hopes of making the Big 12 championship game for the second time in three seasons.
Then came the wait for the Bedlam game between No. 7 Oklahoma State and No. 10 Oklahoma.
“I’ve always, stuff you can’t control, you can’t control,” said Aranda, instead lauding his team for how it has grown since going 2-7 in his debut last year.
“I think of those things, and so I think in that way we’re a winner,” Aranda said. “All of this stuff is going to be extra.”
Oklahoma State, which beat Baylor 24-14 in October, was already in its first Big 12 title game. A win by the Cowboys over six-time defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma would put Baylor (10-2, 7-2 Big 12, CFP No. 8) in next Saturday’s game with them.
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“We were fully focused on Texas Tech, and we’re ready for whatever comes next,” linebacker Terrel Bernard said. “We’re excited that we won this game … and we’ll see what happens.”
Shapen hit Trestan Ebner in stride near the 25 for a 61-yard catch-and-run score on the game’s opening drive that put Baylor ahead to stay. Shapen had a decisive 9-yard TD pass to tight end Ben Sims with 7 minutes left to respond to a Tech score.
The Red Raiders (6-6, 3-6) still had one more chance after stopping Baylor on fourth down on its 12 with 1:18 and no timeouts left. They got in position for a 53-yard field goal attempt by Jonathan Garibay, who had plenty of leg but pushed the kick wide left on the final play. Garibay, who was 13 of 13 on field goals before then, had a game-ending 62-yarder to beat Iowa State two week earlier.
“Incredibly proud of our team, the fight that they showed,” Sonny Cumbie said of Saturday and all four of his games as Tech’s interim coach. “It’s so easy when things go against you to take your ball and go home, to take your ball and stop playing and to stop fighting. And if anything, these kids did just the opposite.”
Donovan Smith was 16-of-23 passing for 262 yards with two late TD passes for the Red Raiders, who a week earlier had only 108 total yards in a 23-0 loss to Oklahoma State in their home finale. That was the first time Tech was shut out in a 303-game span since 1997.
Smith’s 38-yard TD to Mannix McLane with 11:37 left cut the deficit to 20-17. Baylor responded with a 10-play drive that ended with Shapen’s pass to Sims. Then Smith threw a screen pass to tight end Travis Kootz that turned into a 75-yard score.
Shapen completed 20 of 34 passes starting in place of Gerry Bohanon, who injured his right hamstring late in the first half of a 20-10 win last week at Kansas State that Shapen finished.
Abram’s Smith’s 4-yard TD for a 17-3 lead with 5 minutes left in the first half came five plays after Raleigh Texada sacked Donovan Smith and forced a fumble he recovered at the Tech 24. Tahj Brooks had a 1-yard TD run to cut Tech’s halftime deficit to 17-10.
Texas Tech: New Red Raiders coach Joey McGuire, who was in his fifth season on Baylor’s staff before getting hired three weeks ago, did not attend the game. Cumbie will coach the bowl game and remain on McGuire’s staff as offensive coordinator. … Texas Tech has to win its bowl game to avoid a sixth consecutive losing record.
Baylor: The Bears were hurt in the Big 12 standings by their unexpected 30-28 loss at TCU on Nov. 6. Aranda kicked a field goal at the end of the 27-14 win over Oklahoma two weeks ago that potentially could have mattered in a tiebreaker based on point differential, but that didn’t ultimately come into play. A loss by the Sooners Saturday night would be their second in the Big 12 and Baylor would win the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Cumbie said “10 times out of 10” he would want Garibay trying that field goal at the end of the game.
“Didn’t go our way,” Cumbie said. “He’s the reason why really we’re 6-6 and going to a bowl game.”
Garibay’s kick at the end of the Iowa State game that got Tech bowl eligible was the longest game-winner in the final minute of an FBS game. He also had a 32-yard field goal with 18 seconds remaining in a 23-20 win at West Virginia on Oct. 2.
Texas Tech will find out next weekend who and where it will play in its first bowl game since 2017.
Baylor had to wait to see if its next game was for the Big 12 title or in a bowl.