WACO, Texas — It was eerie to discover after Oklahoma’s epic comeback over Baylor that OU defensive coordinator had prophesized it at halftime with Jalen Hurts.
Even more spooky? Earlier in the week, OU’s coaches had shown players highlights of the New England Patriot’s comeback from a 28-3 deficit to the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl in 2017.
The Sooners trailed Baylor 28-3 with 5:13 remaining in Saturday’s first half, before storming back for a 34-31 victory.
“We watched a few clips,” said cornerback Parnell Motley, whose forced fumble was part of the rally. “[We watched] Virginia (basketball), the struggles they went through, when they lost to a 16-seed (in 2018) and when they almost did (in 2019), but they redeemed themselves. Another (clip) they watched was the Patriots and the Falcons (Super Bowl) and it was just the same scenario. It's crazy how ironic it is. They were up 28-3. We watched how the Patriots faced adversity and how things went. It was a great win, my team responded."
Every OU player did his best afterward to explain just how it happened. It was the school’s biggest comeback in history.
“We were at our lowest point and everybody doubted us,” Motley said. “We kept our head in it and we didn't get discouraged. We told ourselves, you don't win in the first quarter, you win in the fourth quarter. That's exactly what we did, we won in the fourth quarter."
• OU’s smoke screen with Lamb: CeeDee Lamb suited up, went through warm-ups and ultimately didn’t play, leaving OU’s star receiver on the sideline.
Why? He wasn’t ready, OU coach Lincoln Riley said, and hadn’t been the entire day — coinciding from an OU Daily report that he was questionable.
Lamb's appearance in warm-ups was pure trickery. The ABC broadcast crew was as befuddled as anyone.
“Serious smoke screen,” play-by-play announcer Chris Fowler said on air. “You don’t often have a player who is ruled out medically sit down and do a feature for [ESPN’s College] GameDay. Do a phone call with Maria [Taylor], go through your warm-ups with your pads on.”
Said color analyst Kirk Herbstreit: “I’ve never seen that.”
If Baylor was confused about Lamb’s status, it didn’t show on the field. The Bears suffocated OU’s offense in the first half as it scuffled to 10 points.
“Did it impact us in the first half? Hard to say,” Riley said. “I mean, you got a guy that's probably the best receiver in America. It's hard to say that it doesn’t.”
• No doubt: Riley and OU players had little concern about whether Gabe Brkic would convert a 31-yard field goal that turned out to be the game-winner against Baylor.
Brkic made two against the Bears and is now 12 for 12 on the season.
“I told you guys before, even as a young guy when he came in, Austin [Seibert] was clearly the starter, putting [Brkic] in some pressure kick situations, he always seemed to make those,” Riley said. “He went out there, you may not believe me, but I really was not that worried about it. He'll probably make it like all the other ones he does.
“Big-time kick. The confidence he has in Connor [McGinnis, holder] and Kasey [Kelleher, snapper] is a big part of this, especially for a young kid.”
Hurts had to look away from the kick. He wouldn’t watch, waiting for word from former OU center Gabe Ikard to tell hiom whether Brkic made it.
“I’ve never seen a kicker that can kick it like him,” receiver Charleston Rambo said. “Even at practice he's kicking deep, deep field goals. I just knew when we got the ball on fourth down. We were like field goal team come on. I knew he was making it. I didn't have to look away and think. I just knew Gabe was going to make it. He's 100 percent.”
• Happy birthday: Of all the nights for OU’s wildest comebacks in school history, it happened on linebacker Kenneth Murray’s birthday.
"I could cry, to be honest,” Murray said. “To get a win like this on my birthday, I wouldn't rather be anywhere else. I love being here with my team. Getting a win with my team on the road — in this environment — is special.”
• Big 12 scenarios: OU and Baylor are each one victory away from meeting in the Big 12 championship game Dec. 7 in Arlington.
With one conference loss apiece — and with Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Texas all next in line with three losses — the Bears and Sooners are in good position.
Baylor hosts Texas this week and closes the regular season Nov. 30 at Kansas. OU hosts TCU before closing at Oklahoma State.
• This, that: Since NCAA classification began in 1937, no team has come back from 21 points down at halftime against an FBS team at 9-0 or better, according to ESPN Stats and Info. Previous records were 17-point comebacks by USC against 9-0 Notre Dame in 1964 and Nevada against 10-0 Boise State in 2010. … According to OU, Baylor had won 38 straight games under Matt Rhule when entering the fourth quarter tied or leading. OU trailed 31-17 to start the fourth quarter Saturday.