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Big 12 Championship | Baylor 21, Oklahoma State 16

Baylor holds off Oklahoma State to capture Big 12 football title

Baylor's Terrel Bernard hoists the Big 12 Championship trophy and celebrates with teammates after the Bears defeated Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Football Championship Saturday afternoon in Arlington, Texas.Ron Jenkins/Getty

ARLINGTON, Texas — Dezmon Jackson came up inches short on a desperate, fourth-down dive with 24 seconds remaining and fifth-ranked Oklahoma State fell to ninth-rated Baylor 21-16 in the Big 12 championship game Saturday, knocking the Cowboys out of contention for a playoff spot.

Blake Shapen threw three TDs while completing his first 17 passes as Baylor (11-2, College Football Playoff No. 9) took a 21-3 lead.

The Cowboys (11-2, CFP No. 5) rallied back, then went 89 yards on 17 plays on their final drive. But their Big 12 and national championship hopes wound up just shy.

After having first-and-goal from 2 following a pass interference penalty, Jackson gained a yard and was held for no gain before an incomplete pass by Spencer Sanders.

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On fourth down from the 1, Jackson tried to sweep wide left, but with safety Jairon McVea in pursuit, he barely missed while trying to reach the pylon in the front corner of the end zone.

There would need to be some chaos, in form of an upset or two in other conference title games later in the day, for third-time Big 12 champion Baylor to have a chance to be in the final four for the first time when the CFP rankings come out Sunday.

Baylor was 2-7 in coach Dave Aranda’s debut last year, when the pandemic wiped out spring drills when he was coming off a national championship as LSU defensive coordinator. The 11 wins match a school record.

Sanders threw four interceptions, one by McVea, and the Cowboys were without leading rusher Jaylen Warren because of his lingering ankle and shoulder issues.

Shapen started his second game in a row for injured quarterback Gerry Bohanon (right hamstring), and the Bears won even with only 242 total yards of offense. They had only 36 yards after halftime, while Shapen finished 23 of 28 for 180 yards passing overall.

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After Oklahoma State took a 3-0 lead on Tanner Brown’s 23-yard field goal set up after all-purpose Baylor back Trestan Ebner fumbled on the opening drive of the game, the Bears scored 21 consecutive points. Sanders threw picks on the next two drives, setting up Baylor with short fields for three-play TD drives — a 2-yard TD pass to wide-open tight open Ben Sims and Drew Estrada’s 4-yard scoring catch.

Baylor had a 21-3 lead — the largest deficit this season for the Cowboys — after an incredible 13-yard diving catch by Tyquan Thornton with a defender on his back, and able to get both feet down in bounds, with 5 1/2 minutes left in the first half.

The Cowboys were within 21-16 on Brown’s 20-yard field goal with 8:17 left. That was set up after Ebner muffed a punt recovered by Korie Black, who had ended the first half by deflecting a field goal attempt that came up woefully short.

McVea had his interception early in the second half, but Baylor failed to get a first down. Instead of punting from their own 36, the Bears went for it on fourth down and Shapen had to just throw the ball away without an open receiver. Eight plays later, Dominic Richardson scored on a 4-yard run for the Cowboys.