LAWRENCE (AP) — The last thing anyone expected from this statistical mismatch was fourth-quarter drama. Or a gutsy overtime gamble.
Or one of the biggest comebacks in Baylor football history.
Nevertheless, a scant crowd in Memorial Stadium got all that and more on a raw, windy afternoon Saturday before Jordan Webb’s 2-point conversion pass fell incomplete and Baylor escaped with a wild 31-30 overtime victory over Kansas.
“It hurts,” said Turner Gill, Kansas’ embattled head coach.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s huge,” said Baylor coach Art Briles.
With an offense ranked No. 2 in the country averaging 575.8 yards per game and the Kansas defense ranked dead last among 120 FBS schools, the Bears came in as three-touchdown favorites even though they hadn’t won a conference road game in more than a year. But the Jayhawks (2-8, 0-7 Big 12) took a shocking 24-3 lead on Tony Pierson’s 34-yard run late in the third quarter. One of the season’s biggest upsets seemed to be taking shape.
But then Robert Griffin III threw three touchdown passes in a furious fourth-quarter comeback, biting off huge chunks of yardage, and knotted it 24-all on a 67-yard TD pass to Tevin Reece.
A 14-yard TD pass to Reece on Baylor’s first possession of overtime was answered immediately when Jordan Webb connected with Tim Biere for a 25-yard TD strike on the next play, setting up a decision Gill insists he will never second guess.
“I just felt the momentum,” he said. “I thought it would be the time to go for it. You have some instincts and I just had an instinct at that particular time to go for it.”
The 21-point comeback tied the Baylor record set against Southern Methodist in 1980 and made the Bears (6-3, 3-3) bowl eligible for the second straight year.
“We got going. We got our mojo,” said Griffin, who threw for 312 yards and ran for 103. “We got our rhythm. We couldn’t establish that the whole game because we didn’t have the ball. We knew we weren’t going to get many opportunities the way Kansas runs the ball and was eating up clock.”
Biere had two defenders around him when Webb threw him the ball.
Griffin’s three fourth-quarter touchdown drives took only 14 plays to cover 267 yards.
“When we scored that first one, it just let us know, ‘Hey, as long as we can score touchdowns, we can get back in this game.’”
Capping an 89-yard drive in just five plays, Griffin went around left end and ran untouched 49 yards for Baylor’s first TD with 11:45 to go.
On their next possession, Griffin whipped the Bears 98 yards in just six plays, connecting with a wide-open Terrance Williams for a 36-yard scoring strike that made it 24-17 at the 7:58 mark.
At that point, the Bears had 187 yards in the fourth quarter after compiling only 190 in the first three periods.
Griffin completed the comeback with a 67-yard touchdown pass to Reece on Baylor’s next possession, going 80 yards in only three plays against the staggering Jayhawk defense.
Darrian Miller had 147 yards rushing for Kansas.
Briles was not surprised that Kansas made the win-or-lose gamble for two points.
“They’re fighting hard to get a Big 12 win, and they felt like we had a little momentum,” he said. “That’s a good way to squelch it. It didn’t surprise me a bit.”
A weird first half that included eight game-delaying reviews ended with Baylor being awarded an extra play when Kansas was flagged for a facemask infraction as time ran out.
The 15-yard penalty put the ball on the 20 and Aaron Jones, with no time showing on the clock, booted a 37-yard field goal that prevented the heavily favored Bears from getting shut out in the first half for the second time this season.
Both of Kansas’ first-half TDs came after turnovers were upheld on review.
In the first turnover, Steven Johnson was credited with a recovered fumble after Griffin attempted to pitch the ball and it was batted away by Keba Agostinho. Officials first ruled the ball went out of bounds before Johnson got control. But instead of punting, the Bears had to give up the ball on their own 49 and the Jayhawks covered the distance in nine plays.
Christian Matthews, whose holding call nullified a Kansas touchdown a few plays earlier, carried over from the 2 for a 10-0 lead about 3 minutes into the second quarter.
Late in the second quarter, James Sims made it 17-0 with a 2-yard touchdown run following another Baylor turnover. Griffin connected with Reece for 12 yards but Isiah Barfield’s tackle jarred the ball loose and Isaac Wright recovered on the Kansas 45.
After a replay confirmed the fumble recovery, the Jayhawks failed on a third-down pass but got the first down when Baylor was offsides.
BIG 12 CONFERENCE
BAYLOR 31, KANSAS 30, OT
Baylor 0 3 0 21 7 — 31
Kansas 3 14 7 0 6 — 30
Kan — FG Doherty 37, 9:42.
Kan — Matthews 2 run (Mueller kick), 12:50.
Kan — Sims 2 run (Mueller kick), :26.
Bay — FG A.Jones 37, :00.
Kan — Pierson 34 run (Mueller kick), 3:31.
Bay — R.Griffin 49 run (A.Jones kick), 11:45.
Bay — T.Williams 36 pass from R.Griffin (A.Jones kick), 7:58.
Bay — T.Reese 67 pass from R.Griffin (A.Jones kick), 3:32.
Bay — T.Reese 14 pass from R.Griffin (A.Jones kick).
Kan — Biere 25 pass from Webb (pass failed).
A — 35,188.
First downs 22 26
Rushes-yards 28-193 64-296
Passing 312 108
Comp-Att-Int 22-30-1 17-27-3
Return Yards 37 44
Punts-Avg. 3-46.0 5-46.2
Fumbles-Lost 3-3 0-0
Penalties-Yards 6-39 6-55
Time of Possession 16:32 43:28
RUSHING — Baylor, R.Griffin 10-103, Ganaway 9-45, Salubi 5-27, Morton 2-16, Martin 1-4, Wright 1-(minus 2). Kansas, Miller 24-147, Pierson 8-70, Sims 24-64, Matthews 4-15, Webb 4-0.
PASSING — Baylor, R.Griffin 22-29-1-312, T.Reese 0-1-0-0. Kansas, Webb 17-27-3-108.
RECEIVING — Baylor, Wright 8-102, T.Reese 6-127, T.Williams 4-52, Sampson 3-26, Salubi 1-5. Kansas, Beshears 7-20, Pick 5-39, Biere 3-47, Pierson 1-4, Lewis 1-(minus 2).