Bryce Petty Needs Epic Performance over Oklahoma to Truly Enter Heisman Race

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVNovember 7, 2013

WACO, TX - OCTOBER 19: Bryce Petty #14 of the Baylor Bears drops back to throw a pass against the Iowa State Cyclones on October 19, 2013 at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

If it truly is Bryce Petty's year to make a run at the Heisman Trophy, the Baylor quarterback will need to record the most memorable performance of his career Thursday night at home against Oklahoma.

Through seven games, the Bears have been on an absolute tear while posting unheard-of numbers across the board—ranking atop the FBS in points per game (63.9) and sixth in points against (15.9). 

Petty has been at the forefront of that emergence, torching opposing secondaries in the first half and often putting Bears games at snooze level before halftime—a big reason why he's the only Heisman contender who has thrown under 200 pass attempts this season.

All but one of Baylor's games have been decided by more than 30 points, but the glaring lack of quality opponents played has put the slightest damper on Petty's already slim chances of emerging as a Heisman front-runner. 

That all changes on Thursday night, when 10th-ranked Oklahoma strolls into town sporting a 7-1 record and two top-25 wins on the season. With a potent offensive attack of their own with quarterback Blake Bell and a group of formidable wideouts, leaving Floyd Casey Stadium with a win will be easier said than done for Baylor.

Oct 26, 2013; Lawrence, KS, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Bryce Petty (14) runs with the ball against the Kansas Jayhawks in the first half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

It's in a game like this that teams need their hero and leader to step up and steal the storylines, and Baylor will need just that from Petty to keep their undefeated season alive.

Any real Heisman Trophy contender has that one signature performance that made the difference in his team's season.

Jameis Winston has one—a blowout win on the road at then-No. 3 Clemson, but a few Heisman favorites like Marcus Mariota, Johnny Manziel and A.J. McCarron have yet to notch one.

Oct 12, 2013; Manhattan, KS, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Bryce Petty (14) is chased by Kansas State Wildcats defensive end Alauna Finau (94) during first-half action at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Two years ago, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III used a 45-38 win over then-No. 6 Oklahoma as a springboard to his Heisman Trophy campaign. Petty will need the same. 

However, it won't just take a win for Petty to make waves in the Heisman race. He'll need to be the reason his team won. He'll need to take over late in the game, while putting up gaudy numbers.

Heisman front-runner Mariota has the same opportunity that Petty has on Thursday night, playing Stanford in a marquee matchup with all eyes on him.

If he fails to take advantage of that stage and Petty leads Baylor to a win, look out.

Blowout wins over Wofford, Buffalo and Iowa State won't make anybody impressed with Petty—even if he is putting up ungodly numbers.

A big performance on the national stage against Oklahoma on Thursday night, however, would send shockwaves through the college football landscape and assert his status as a true Heisman contender.