Baylor lost its first game of the year in a fashion that very few saw coming. The Bears, at No. 4 in the BCS standings, did not just lose the game—they gave the nation a massive collapse to enjoy over the course of 60 minutes. The new-look defense and special teams all joined the party in the 49-17 disappointment, but it was the offense that took center stage.
But, to be fair, it was not all Baylor's fault, there was not much the Bears could do about it, thanks to Oklahoma State's tremendous execution of its game plan. On the strength of that, Baylor's dream season turned into its own personal nightmare.
Antwan Goodley's case of the drops returned at inopportune times. Bryce Petty's mechanics and discipline got away from him, as did the football. The offensive line's ability to diagnose pressures and create space disappeared. The receivers, all of them, let the world know that beating press coverage just was not something they were comfortable doing.
Much of those shortcomings, the collapse of the Bears, can be traced back to the Pokes' game plan. This defense decided to shoot gaps and get penetration to disrupt the mesh point. Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer put his defensive backs on islands, playing press man to disrupt the timing of Baylor's offense. Getting physical was the name of the game on an every-down basis, against the run and the pass.
And, all of those things worked.
The Baylor collapse did not just happen; rather, it was orchestrated by Spencer's defense. The penetration rendered zone runs ineffective. As Brandon Houston of Coach Huey noted, the press coverage got Petty and his receivers out of sync, allowing time for the pass-rushers to get to the quarterback. Defensive linemen in the quarterback's face created bad passes and hurried throws.
Saturday night in Stillwater was not an accident. It was not a game to just be chalked up to a bad night. No, it was the Cowboys' well-constructed game plan shutting down the Bears' fastball and then showing the world that Baylor did not have a changeup.
There was no Plan B for Petty after what he is used to doing did not work. There was no Plan B to get the running game going after the Cowboys committed to penetration to stop the zone. There was no Plan B when the receivers failed to get off quality press coverage.
Certainly, it would have been nice to see if Lache Seastrunk, the home run-hitting running back, could have scored a time or two. It would have been nice to see if Tevin Reese could beat press coverage better than Goodley or Levi Norwood. However, with a 49-17 final, the ground Baylor's missing pieces would have had to make up is immense.
The 2013 edition Baylor Bears got smoked on a frigid night in Stillwater. It was a disappointing evening where nothing seemed to go right for Art Briles' team. Briles had nothing but praise for his opponent, telling the Associated Press (via ESPN), "(Oklahoma State) played extremely well, played with a lot of energy, made plays when they needed to make plays."
But as Chris Brown of Smart Football and Grantland put it, following the Bears' second goal-line fumble, Baylor couldn't be absolved of all the blame in the loss:
Brown is right; the Bears could not get out of their own way. Plus, every time Baylor started to get out of its own way, the Pokes were there to push them back down to the turf. It's a testament to how bad Baylor was in this ballgame, and just how great the Cowboys played in this de facto Big 12 Championship Game.
This was the perfect storm of problems for the Baylor Bears. A team that was missing some key pieces ran up against a buzz saw of a squad, set up and determined to hit every weakness in the Bears' game.
For the Cowboys, the upset could not have been any better scripted, and for Baylor it was a nightmare come true.