- Dave Wilson is an editor for ESPN.com since 2010. He previously worked at The Dallas Morning News, San Diego Union-Tribune and Las Vegas Sun.
Baylor fans were so excited that their No. 13 Bears beat No. 8 Oklahoma 27-14 that they stormed the field twice.
Assuming the game was over, throngs of fans who had been perched on walls waiting for the final seconds to tick off the clock rushed the field, not realizing Baylor coach Dave Aranda had called a timeout with three seconds left, up 24-14.
Aranda’s reasoning: He wanted to get additional points in case there was a tie among two-loss teams in the Big 12 title race, because point differential between teams is the third tiebreaker in the league’s rules.
After a long delay, including the public address announcer imploring fans to leave the field, the Bears’ Isaiah Hankins added a 32-yarder as time expired for the 27-14 victory, and the fans ran back to the center of the field to celebrate.
On a day when the Sooners’ 17-game winning streak ended, and they were likely eliminated from the College Football Playoff race, none of this sat well with Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley.
“It became a safety issue,” Riley said. “I know why Dave tried to kick the field goal. I don’t agree with it. And I still think above all else, there’s a code of sportsmanship that I believe in. I wouldn’t have done it. But that’s his decision, that’s his football team. How the officials don’t enforce a 15-yard penalty when you probably got 5,000 people on the field is unbelievable to me. It is what it is. That’s his decision. That’s the officials’ decision. I don’t agree with it.”
Aranda said he pondered the tiebreaker decision early in the week and decided when Kennedy Brooks scored on a 1-yard run with 2:26 left in the game that he wanted to try to add more points.
“We wanted to get back on the scoreboard to help with that differential,” he said. “You have some two-loss teams. We want to be in that position.”
Riley said he saw OU linebacker David Ugwoegbu “just get bum-rushed by three guys” and sent Oklahoma’s team to the locker room during the delay. He said he considered telling all the players to leave without having any on the field for a final play.
“I did tell them that, and I don’t know, maybe I should have done it,” Riley said. “You know, I just I don’t believe this situation was handled well by a lot of people. Doing it with class is important to me. And at the end of the day, that’s why we decided to bring 11 guys out even though deep down I damn sure didn’t want to.”
Aranda was told of Riley’s comments and said he could appreciate his perspective.
“I think he was upset,” Aranda said. “I can understand that. It’s an emotional game. I consider Lincoln a friend, so I imagine we will talk here pretty quick.”
It was the end of a frustrating day all around for Riley, whose offense had its worst performance ever under him. The Sooners had their fewest yards (260) and fewest points scored (14) since Riley arrived at Oklahoma as offensive coordinator in 2015.
It’s just the second time the Sooners have been held to fewer than 300 yards under Riley. That, too, was against Aranda, in the Sooners’ 27-14 win over Baylor last year.
“They played better than we did,” Riley said.
Riley tried a quarterback switch once again to see if he could find a spark, benching Caleb Williams late in the third quarter for Spencer Rattler. To that point, Williams was 8-for-14 for 84 yards.
“We were just a little stale, honestly,” Riley said. “We had a little stretch there in the second quarter, again in the third quarter, where we had a few things there that [Williams] missed that he just typically doesn’t miss. Spencer, had a good week. So I went with Spencer. Again, you’ve got to make those decisions in the heat of the moment. At that point, I felt like it was the right decision.”
Rattler went 4-of-6 for 36 yards on two drives. Both drives ended with Rattler being sacked on third down. Williams’ surging Heisman candidacy ended and the Sooners’ playoff dreams died in a sea of green-and-gold-clad fans in Waco.
But a seventh straight Big 12 title remains a goal.
“Still a whole lot left for this football team,” Riley said. “That’s the advantage of winning your first nine games is you do set yourself up to be able to overcome something like this, so [I’m] disappointed, obviously, that we have to overcome it, but it is what it is. So we’ll bounce back like we always do and like we fully expect to.”
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