NORMAN, Okla. — Bob Stoops passed Bud Wilkinson on Oklahoma’s career victory list with a defensive game plan that went against his conventional wisdom.
The defensive-minded head coach who has always focused on stopping the run first got win No. 146 with an emphasis on grounding the nation’s top passing attack.
“I love it,” Stoops said after his 14th-ranked Sooners beat Baylor 42-34 on Saturday. “I absolutely love it.”
Landry Jones threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns, Damien Williams ran for 99 yards and two scores and Oklahoma limited Baylor to a season-low 172 yards passing in the victory. Stoops moved into sole possession of second place on the school’s wins list by passing Wilkinson, who was 145-29-4 and won three national championships with the Sooners.
“What he did here is absolutely amazing. The (NCAA record 47-game) win streak is really just incredible. I don’t believe it’ll ever be touched again, and the national championships, the sustained success for so long,” Stoops said.
“I don’t look at numbers, to be honest with you. It’s just not me. I’m a long way from sitting in a rocking chair and reflecting on it.”
At 146-36, Stoops trails only Barry Switzer’s 157-29-4 record that’s the best in Oklahoma history. Switzer also won three national titles. Stoops has won one and is just trying to keep the Sooners in contention for a BCS at-large bid or longshot Big 12 title this season.
Lache Seastrunk ran for 91 yards and three touchdowns for Baylor (4-5, 1-5 Big 12), the last score getting the Bears within eight with 1:26 to play after quarterback Nick Florence got in on the 2-point conversion.
LaColtan Bester recovered the ensuing onside kick, sealing the win for Oklahoma (7-2, 5-1).
“I thought our guys played valiantly. We played with a lot of effort, a lot of heart and a lot of confidence,” Bears coach Art Briles said. “We thought we were going to come in here and win the football game, just like every game we play. Against a team like that you can’t afford to give them anything.”
The Sooners never fully shook free of the Bears, who had lost four in a row prior to last week’s win against last-place Kansas.
Blake Bell provided some breathing room with his 55-yard touchdown run out of the “Belldozer” short-yardage package — the longest for an Oklahoma quarterback since Patrick Fletcher in 1998 — that made it 42-26 with 14:14 remaining.
“That gave them a bunch of momentum and they didn’t need momentum,” Baylor linebacker Bryce Hager said. “We were playing well up to that point. We should have been in perfect position for that play, but we got out-leveraged.”
The Bears, who entered the game with the nation’s top overall offense and top passing attack, piled up 252 yards on the ground and became the fourth Sooners opponent to surpass 200 yards rushing. Florence had 83 yards and a score, to go with 172 yards on 12-for-33 passing with no interceptions, and Glasco Martin ran for 60 yards.
Some of what Oklahoma’s defense gave up was by design after eventual Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III threw for 479 yards — and Baylor racked up 616 yards, the most ever by a Sooners opponent — in a 45-38 win by the Bears last season that remains their only win in 22 meetings.
“The way you have to play these guys, to limit their passing big plays, you have to make them hand the ball off and hope you can come up with your third-down stops and fourth-down stops,” Stoops said.
Oklahoma’s defense was up to the task better this time. Terrance Williams, the nation’s top receiver, had six catches for 91 yards — but that was 76 below his average. Florence also had a season low in passing yardage, getting held to 127 yards fewer than any other game this season.
Sooners defensive captain David King still wasn’t happy and said “it’s unacceptable to give up that many rushing yards.”
“It’s just the bottom line: Guys just couldn’t tackle tonight. I think we’ve done a poorer and poorer job of tackling as the season progressed, and something’s got to give,” King said. “We’ve got to fix it or we’re going to start getting beat.”
The usually quick-striking Bears — who average 110 seconds on their typical scoring drive this season — seemed to be getting back in the game when they put together a methodical, 17-play drive to move within 21-17 on Seastrunk’s 4-yard touchdown run with just 32 seconds left in the first half.
Baylor was set to get the ball first in the second half, possibly with a chance to go ahead. But even that little time left room for Oklahoma to take advantage of the nation’s worst defense.
Brennan Clay picked up dribbling kick and returned it 39 yards into Baylor territory, and the Sooners needed just two plays to take advantage with Jones finding a diving Justin Brown in the end zone for a 35-yard scoring strike and a 28-17 halftime edge.
Baylor got within 28-26 on Seastrunk’s 2-yard TD run in the third but the Sooners snuffed out Jarred Salubi’s try for the tying 2-point conversion.