WACO, Texas — Oklahoma has a big-play defense. No doubting that, now 10 games into the 2011 season.
The thing is, sometimes the Sooners are making the big plays — and sometimes they're allowing them.
It was the latter here Saturday night in a wacky 45-38 Baylor upset victory at Floyd Casey Stadium that ended in — what else? — a big play for the Bears.
Terrance Williams caught a 34-yard touchdown with eight seconds to go on a scramble play, kept alive by Baylor's do-everything quarterback, Robert Griffin III.
“They worked us pretty good,” Sooners defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright said. “They big-played us all night long, I guess — long passes and what have you.
“The key guy was Robert Griffin. He made the plays.”
Baylor (7-3, 4-3 Big 12) was previously 0-20 all time against the Sooners (8-2, 5-2). The win was among the program's very best, ever. For OU, it sets ablaze its modest national title hopes. The focus now becomes the Big 12 title, with Iowa State and Bedlam remaining.
Oklahoma State's ability to throw should be a clear-cut concern for the Sooners, considering their two losses so far this season have been to the two of the most pass-happy teams on the schedule.
OU allowed 931 passing yards in the defeats, here Saturday and Oct. 22 against Texas Tech.
Griffin, who used the Oklahoma defense as a catapult back into the Heisman Trophy race, accounted for 551 total yards. That included a career-high 479 passing yards. He threw for four touchdowns and did not have a turnover.
“He's an excellent player,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “I've known that for a long time.”
Stoops presumed the Bears would run out the clock after OU tied the game with 51 seconds to go. A Terrance Ganaway run seemed to indicate as much. Then it's as if BU coach Art Briles remembered he had the game's ultimate trump card, Griffin.
The junior from Copperas Cove, Texas, ran for gains of 22 and 8 into OU territory. Forget a field goal into the wind; the Bears set themselves up to get into the end zone one last time.
The winning play: Griffin ran around near the OU 40-yard line, buying time before he eventually heaved a pass toward one-on-one coverage. It was Sooners reserve safety Sam Proctor, in the game because of an ankle injury to Javon Harris, going against Baylor's Williams.
It appeared it would be, at best, a jump ball when the pass left Griffin's hand. But Williams suddenly got free, easily catching the ball for the touchdown.
Baylor's sideline and stadium went bananas.
“They made a few more big plays,” Stoops said. “That was the difference in the game.”
In addition to the game-winner, Baylor had touchdowns of 69 and 87 yards. Bears receiver Kendall Wright had eight catches for 208 yards, including the 87-yarder – a fluke play on a deflection by a teammate. The ball went 15 or 20 yards downfield after the deflection, hitting Wright almost in stride for the score.
OU led 24-17 at the time, in the third quarter, and the play sucked away all of its momentum to tie the game.
“That was one thing we weren't expecting,” Stoops said, “and then there it is.”
But it's not as if they were all aberrations against the OU defense, and especially the secondary. Harris, before he was injured, twice let Baylor receivers get past him.
Seemingly every other possession there was a guy in a green jersey running free, beyond the Sooners' secondary.
Hard as it is to believe, OU was actually fortunate. A 79-yard touchdown to Wright was called back on Baylor's first possession, because of a holding penalty.
Griffin overthrew one wide-open Bear. Williams also dropped what would have been a long touchdown reception, though he later made up for it.
“What was going on?” Stoops said. “They were beating us.”