No. 9 Oklahoma State beats No. 16 Baylor 36-25 in B12 rematch

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Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports
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WACO, Texas — Jaden Nixon returned the second-half kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, and ninth-ranked Oklahoma State beat No. 16 Baylor 36-25 on Saturday in a rematch of last year’s Big 12 championship game.

Nixon’s return started a flurry of 39 combined points in the third quarter. He found an open gap in the middle of the field, broke free from the grasp of Baylor’s Devyn Bobby at the Oklahoma State 35 and outran everyone to the end zone.

“Third quarter was like a video game,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said.

The Cowboys (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) also beat Baylor in the regular season last year, but came up inches short of their first conference title since 2011 when the Bears made a fourth-down stop just short of the end zone in the final seconds of the championship game.

Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders threw seven picks in his two games against Baylor last season, including four in the Big 12 title game, but he was more efficient this time. He finished 20-of-29 passing for 181 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also ran 14 times for 75 yards with several scrambling runs, and had a 1-yard TD plunge.

“That’s a big win. … It just shows that the young guys stepped up, you know, did their job,” Sanders said. “That’s a great team to win against, especially on the road in their own house.”

After Nixon’s return, Baylor (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) responded with Blake Shapen‘s 49-yard TD pass to Monaray Baldwin, who added a 70-yard catch-and-run score on another fourth-down play later in the third. True freshman Richard Reese had a 1-yard TD run on a short drive set up when Christian Morgan intercepted Sanders.

Another long kickoff return for Oklahoma State, with Brennan Presley taking it to midfield after Reese scored, was followed immediately by Braydon Johnson‘s incredible 49-yard catch and then Dominic Richardson‘s 1-yard run. The Cowboys added a 19-yard field goal after Shapen’s fourth-down incompletion from the Baylor 33 gave Oklahoma State the short field.

Shapen completed 28 of 40 passes for 345 yards and Baldwin caught seven passes for 174 yards. Reese had 85 yards and a score on 17 carries. Six of the true freshman’s TDs have come in Baylor’s three home games.

A week after opening Big 12 play with a win at Iowa State, the Bears couldn’t match that at home, where they had been so good. Their only lead came after a field goal on the game’s opening drive, before Oklahoma State scored a touchdown its first possession.

“We definitely had points where we were low on that (energy level) throughout the game,” Bears standout left tackle Connor Galvin said. “At those times, we had to take a deep breath and like `alright guys, let’s pick it back up.’ Let’s go. Let’s fix the issue on the field.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Oklahoma State: The Cowboys were solid coming off their open date and rose to the challenges of playing their first ranked opponent and leaving Stillwater for the first time. Oklahoma State made some highlight catches for Sanders, including Bryson Green‘s contested leaping catch in the back of the end zone for an 8-yard TD on the Cowboys’ opening drive. On Johnson’s 49-yard catch in the third quarter, he reached back and through a defender to make the grab near the sideline, and when twisting and turning, his left foot slid out of bounds just short of the end zone.

Baylor: The Bears had won nine consecutive home games since a 42-3 loss to Oklahoma State in the 2020 regular-season finale. That game was pushed back two months because of COVID-19, and played when Baylor was without 47 people – players, coaches and support personnel – and had one full-time offensive assistant coach at the game.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Oklahoma State will certainly remain in the top 10, and may even climb a spot. Baylor could hang in near the bottom of the poll since both of its losses are against Top 25 teams, or could fall completely out of the rankings.

UP NEXT

Oklahoma State plays Texas Tech next Saturday at home.

Baylor has a Saturday off before playing its next game at West Virginia on Oct. 13, a Thursday night.

Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. returning for 2023 season

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
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SEATTLE – Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. said Sunday he will return to the school for his sixth and final season of eligibility in 2023.

Penix announced his decision on social media and it was a surprising one at that. Penix was the national leader in passing this season, throwing for 4,354 yards and led Washington’s turnaround. The No. 12-ranked Huskies went 10-2 in the regular season, finished tied for second in the Pac-12 and will face No. 21 Texas in the Alamo Bowl.

Penix will have a chance at setting Washington’s single-season record for yards passing in the bowl game. He also threw 29 touchdowns this season. Because of his performance this season, Penix saw his NFL draft stock rise to where he was being expected to be a second-day pick at the latest.

In his announcement, Penix wrote, “As I look back on this special season we had, I realized there were so many great moments and things to celebrate, but I KNOW there is so much for out there for this team and the job is still not finished. I can’t wait to be playing in Husky Stadium for the 2023 season!”

Penix started his career at Indiana and showed flashes of stardom while also battling injuries. He transferred to Washington after the 2021 season, a move that reunited him with new Huskies’ coach Kalen DeBoer, who was Penix’s offensive coordinator for one season at Indiana.

North Texas fires Littrell after .500 record over 7 years

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
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DENTON, Texas – Bowl-bound North Texas has fired coach Seth Littrell, who went 44-44 over seven seasons.

University president Neal Smatresk said Sunday night that the decision to make the move came after a thorough assessment of the program.

The Mean Green are 7-6 this season after losing 48-27 to UTSA in the Conference USA championship game Friday night.

Phil Bennett, their defensive coordinator the past two seasons, was named interim head coach. North Texas plays Boise State in the Frisco Bowl on Dec. 17.

The 44-year-old Littrell had one year left on his contract in what was his first head coaching job. He was the youngest coach in Conference USA and one of the youngest at the FBS level when he arrived after two seasons as offensive coordinator at North Carolina with UNT coming off a 1-11 season at the time.

While the Mean Green are going to their sixth bowl since Littrell first got there, they haven’t won any of those yet. The bowl in his debut season came after only five wins since there weren’t enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all of the slots. Consecutive nine-win seasons followed in 2017 and 2018, but they then had three consecutive losing records before this year.

North Texas also has an interim athletic director after Wren Baker was named as West Virginia’s AD last week.

Smatresk said Jared Mosley, the chief operating officer of UNT athletics, will serve as interim AD. The university is working with a search firm to find Baker’s successor.