Florence, Baylor fall 42-34 to No. 14 Sooners
NORMAN, Okla. (AP)
Florence, the nation's leading passer, was limited to a season-low 172 yards in the Bears' 42-34 loss to the No. 14 Sooners on Saturday night. He completed only 12 of 33 attempts, missing out on a couple of potential touchdowns with south winds measured at 26 mph at kickoff and not letting up much during the game.
''There's no excuses. Yeah, the wind was doing some funky stuff, but we practice in the wind and everyone has to deal with it,'' said Florence, who was averaging 377 yards passing. ''I missed those throws and we're usually making them.''
Counterpart Landry Jones threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns, Damien Williams ran for 99 yards and two scores and Oklahoma moved coach Bob Stoops into sole possession of second place on the school's career wins list with the victory.
''They did a good job defensively, but we made a lot of mistakes. If I complete even 30 percent of those long balls to (Terrance Williams) it's a different ball game,'' Florence said. ''I just couldn't find it tonight.''
Florence had completed at least 58 percent of his passes and thrown for at least 289 yards in every game this season until Saturday, when he frequently missed downfield passes - including overshooting an open Tevin Reese in the end zone with Baylor trailing 42-26 early in the fourth quarter.
That drive instead ended with the Bears turning the ball over on downs.
''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.''
Stoops moved into sole possession of second place on the school's wins list by passing Bud 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 Florence got in on the 2-point conversion.
LaColtan Bester recovered the ensuing onside kick, sealing the win for Oklahoma (7-2, 5-1).
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.
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 to 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.