Welcome back to an especially exciting edition of our 2020 Countdown to Kickoff series! As of today, there are 25 days remaining until Sept. 12, when the Oklahoma Sooners kick off the football season against Missouri State. With that said, I want to use this opportunity to take a short trip down memory lane — when OU overcame an early 25-point deficit to stun an undefeated Baylor Bears team on their own home field.
On the evening of Nov. 16, 2019, Lincoln Riley, Jalen Hurts and the Sooners strolled into a hostile environment inside McLane Stadium. The Baylor fans in attendance were in a frenzy from the start with ESPN’s College GameDay in town that morning, not to mention knowing there was a chance for their unbeaten Bears to taken down No. 10 Oklahoma on national television. With so much to gain, the boys from Waco were determined to give this one their best shot.
Meanwhile, just before kick-off, it was revealed that OU’s star WR and eventual first-round draft pick CeeDee Lamb would miss the game for what most assumed to be an injury sustained in the week prior. No matter the reason, it was a devastating blow to Oklahoma’s chances, but this team wasn’t about to use his absence as an excuse.
Amazingly, the game started out relatively positive for the Sooners. BU started on offense, and Alex Grinch’s defense quickly held serve to force a punt. Hurts subsequently led his guys down the field before stalling out well within Gabe Brkic’s kicking range. Six minutes into the game, the Crimson & Cream took a 3-0 lead.
Unfortunately, that mini lead on the score board became a distant memory in the matter of moments, and by the 11-minute mark of the second quarter, Matt Rhule’s Bears raced out to a 28-3 advantage. Wait, what?
So how did that even happen? Well for starters, Baylor QB Charlie Brewer was unstoppable and playing out of his mind in the first half. When he wasn’t dropping dimes down the field, he was running free right up the gut of Oklahoma’s defense. To make matters worse, Hurts had perhaps his most costly half of football as a Sooner, turning the ball over twice to set BU up in scoring territory. As the Bears stunned OU with blow after blow, the green and gold faithful lost their collective minds. The nightmarish scene was tough to watch for anyone rooting for the visiting squad. Fortunately, those same road warriors stayed the course and never gave up.
Oklahoma managed to finally stop the bleeding before the break with its first touchdown of the game, and the defense held Baylor to a field goal to end the half, resulting in a 31-10 score going into the locker room. All hope was not lost for the Sooners, but it damn sure felt like it.
OU took the field on offense to start the third quarter, and Hurts methodically led the Sooners down the field. The Heisman Trophy runner-up found then-freshman TE Austin Stogner in the end zone for the second time of the night to cut deeper into the deficit.
One down later, the Oklahoma defense came up with a huge momentum-shifting play as senior CB Parnell Motley forced Baylor’s JaMycal Hasty to fumble. Even better, sophomore S Pat Fields was in the right place at the right time for a recovery. OU ball.
The once-raucous home crowd quickly began to lose steam as they felt the turning of the tide ebb out of their favor. Hurts would again lead his team into the red zone, but another turnover cost Oklahoma points and a massive opportunity to flip the game completely on its head.
Luckily for the Sooners, with Baylor’s offense only having ran a single play up to this point, the defense was well rested and ready to go. A few plays later, they forced the Bears to punt, allowing Riley’s reinvigorated group to reclaim possession. This time, Oklahoma would not be denied, as freshman WR Theo Wease made a highlight play to pay dirt.
OU would once again force Baylor to punt after another lightning quick series, and once again the good guys worked their way down the field for points and the all-important tie thanks to sophomore H-back Brayden Willis’ stealth and soft hands.
Once the Baylor machine came to a screeching halt in the second half, it never started up again. That was largely due to complimentary football by Oklahoma’s offense and defense, as the Sooners played keep away on ‘O’ and stayed fresh on ‘D’. Another Bears punt gave OU an opportunity to retake the lead for the first time since its opening drive of the night, and with a perfect kicker like Gabe Brkic, splitting the uprights was a shoo-in.
Fittingly, the game-sealing play came on defense against the formerly red-hot Brewer. After Oklahoma’s Nik Bonitto missed a chance to grab an interception over the middle, he made up for it and then some by snagging another pass near the sideline. Game, Sooners.
‼️NIK BONITTO FOR THE WIN‼️ pic.twitter.com/Go7YSf3pFv— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) November 17, 2019
Remember, Baylor not only led by 25 at one point in this game, they actually had a 28-3 lead. If you recall, the Atlanta Falcons were the first team of note to make blowing a 28-3 lead infamous, as they lost such a lead in humiliating fashion to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. On the night Baylor committed the same unforgivable transgression, the Falcons shared the Bears’ pain.
♂️— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) November 17, 2019
Incredibly, this game is now Oklahoma’s greatest come-from-behind win in program history. The previous school record was overcoming a 21-point deficit (twice), which coincidentally also happened on the road (at Iowa State in 1970 and at Kansas State in 1981).
Here are a few other statistical anomalies from the second half that speak to OU’s amazing comeback for the ages:
- Oklahoma outscored Baylor 24-0.
- Oklahoma outgained Baylor in first down conversions, 24-2.
- Oklahoma possessed the ball for 24:20 to Baylor’s 5:40.
- Oklahoma ran 59 offensive plays to Baylor’s 16.
If you’re an OU fan and you were fortunate enough to watch this game live, you probably remember where you were and who you were with when you witnessed history in the form of Sooner Magic. It was an experience worth reliving all over again, and you can do that right here with these highlights from that epic night.
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