No. 3 Baylor has highest ranking, another test

Baylor keeps passing tests and changing perceptions about if the
high-scoring Bears are for real.

A day after overcoming their first double-digit deficit of the
season, and turning that into yet another lopsided victory to stay
undefeated, the Big 12-leading Bears moved up a spot to third in
the new Associated Press poll Sunday. That matches the highest
ranking ever.

The Bears (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) jumped ahead of Ohio State (10-0),
which on Saturday matched a school record with its 22nd win in a
row, 60-35 over Illinois. Two-time defending national champion
Alabama and Florida State, both 10-0, stayed in the top two
spots.

After a 6-0 start in 1953, Baylor was third in the AP poll for a
two-week stretch before losing three of its last four games.

Coach Art Briles and Baylor extended its school-record winning
streak to 13 with a 63-34 victory over Texas Tech, which had jumped
ahead 14-0 in the first 8 minutes and scored touchdowns on its
first three drives Saturday night at the Dallas Cowboys’
stadium.

”The impressive part is we took a couple shots, and then we
dodged a bunch, next thing you knew it was a fight and we were
actually in it,” Briles said. ”As you get deeper on in, you’re
going to have more games that could very easily fall that
way.”

How right Briles is.

Baylor plays next Saturday night at No. 11 Oklahoma State (9-1,
6-1), the preseason Big 12 favorite that has now won six in a row.
The Cowboys are coming off a 38-13 win at Texas (7-3, 6-1), another
Big 12 contender the Bears still have to play.

”This is a special team and I knew it from the get-go. We like
these games,” quarterback Bryce Petty said. ”It’s these kinds of
games that you want to fight with your brothers and win
together.”

While the AP media poll is not factored into the Bowl
Championship Series, Baylor also moved up a spot in the new BCS
standings – to fourth Sunday night. They were fifth last week, a
spot behind Stanford, now a two-loss team after a 20-17 setback at
Southern California on Saturday night. The Bears trail Alabama,
Florida State and Ohio State in the standings that determine who
plays for the national title.

Texas Tech (7-4, 4-4) was up 14-0 on two TD catches by standout
tight end Jace Amaro. The Red Raiders led 20-7 after an incredible
one-handed 5-yard TD catch by Eric Ward.

But Baylor, on pace for major college records with 61.2 points
and 684.8 yards per game, had a 21-20 lead by the end of the first
quarter and never trailed again.

And the Bears were playing without Big 12 rushing leader Lache
Seastrunk, second-string running back Glasco Martin and
103-yard-a-game receiver Tevin Reese. They have accounted for a
combined 24 touchdowns.

”I like how calmly you mentioned their names,” Briles said
when asked about the missing trio. ”To us they’re not guys. I
mean, they’re dynamic teammates. … With them not being there, I
think we are growing as a team from an offensive standpoint. The
thing that’s helping us is we’re playing really good defense, which
allows us to figure out how to use the people that are going to
have to try to compensate for those guys not being there.”

After the Red Raiders had 217 yards on 31 plays their first
three drives, they had only 237 yards in 57 snaps the rest of the
game.

Shock Linwood, effectively Baylor’s third-string running back,
ran for 187 yards – after being Big 12 offensive player of the week
for his 182 yards against Oklahoma after Seastrunk and Martin got
hurt early in that game. Devin Chafin, another redshirt freshman,
ran 11 times for 100 yards and two TDs.

Levi Norwood, getting more chances with Reese out, had seven
catches for 156 yards and two scores. He also returned a punt 58
yards for a TD that made it 20-14.

”Took us a second to get going. For us, we know it’s coming,”
said Petty, who threw three TD passes and ran for two scores. ”We
have to settle down. I think a lot of it was a spark when Levi took
that punt return.”