OSU heads to Baylor in an early, crucial Big 12 game

Baylor upset previously unbeaten Oklahoma State last season and knocked the Cowboys out of a shot at the Big 12 title and a crack at the national playoff.

The stakes are a bit lower this season as unranked OSU (2-1) travels to No. 16 Baylor in a key Big 12 battle at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

A loss would probably end hopes for the Bears to make the playoffs and a second loss would have the same effect for the Cowboys. Either OSU or Baylor could win the conference with one loss but that would only happen if the other team lost twice.

Baylor has skated to three easy wins over Northwestern State (55-7), SMU (40-13) and Rice (38-10 last Saturday). OSU won a barn burner over Pittsburgh 45-38 in Stillwater Saturday and would have a perfect 3-0 mark except for a controversial loss to Central Michigan.

Oklahoma State holds a 19-15 all-time series advantage over Baylor, but the Bears have won eight of the 14 meetings played in Waco. Mike Gundy is 7-4 against Baylor, while this is Jim Grobe’s first time facing the Cowboys. While OSU has won 16 of the last 20 series clashes, BU has taken three of the last four.

The game will be on Fox Sports (cable channel 5).

In the game last year, Baylor backup quarterback Chris Johnson threw two touchdown passes and ran in another score as the Bears won 45-35. But Baylor coach Art Briles was fired after a controversy over sexual harassment reports and Baylor lost some of its top recruits as a result.

OSU could have easily gone into a funk after the Central Michigan debacle but the Cowboys rallied in the rain-delayed game Saturday against Pittsburgh.

“As usual, when you come to Stillwater, you get your money’s worth,” Gundy said. “It was a great game for college football. Pitt’s a really good football team. What they do on offense is very unique and gives us some serious issues, but we rallied back and were able to make some stops there after the delay. Then, obviously, we were able to hit the big stop-and-go route there on the perimeter. I’m very proud of the team. I told them in the locker room that they’ve learned another great life lesson in overcoming adversity and rallying back and getting prepared for the next week. That was awesome for those guys.”

Quarterback Mason Rudolph set an OSU record for passing yards in a half with 372 in the first half. The previous record of 328 was set by Brandon Weeden vs. Tulsa in 2010.

Rudolph finished with 540 yards passing, ranking as the most in a game in OSU history and the most since Weeden threw for 502 yards against Kansas State in 2011. Rudolph’s total matched Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes (vs. Arizona State) for the best single-game tally this season.

“He played great,” OSU offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said of Rudolph. “There’s always room to improve. He should sit back and enjoy this one. He played tremendous at the end. He finished strong again with the game-winning drive, which is becoming commonplace for him.”

Receiver James Washington set an OSU record for receiving yards in a half with 231 yards receiving in the first half. The previous record was set when Adarius Bowman had 219 in the second half at Kansas in 2009.

Washington finished with 296 yards receiving, ranking as the second most in a game in OSU history, trailing only Adarius Bowman’s 300-yard outing at Kansas in 2006. His total is the most since Dez Bryant’s 236-yard performance against Houston in 2008. It also marks the most receiving yards for any FBS player in a game this season, besting KD Cannon’s 214 yards in the Baylor-Rice game Friday night.

Washington went over the 100-yard receiving mark for the seventh time in his career and the first time this season. He reached that mark in the first quarter and finished the quarter with 135 receiving yards.

That marked Washington’s third time to surpass 100-yards receiving in a quarter, following up the fourth quarter at Texas Tech and the first quarter vs. TCU last year.