In arguably the biggest game in the history of the Baylor Bears, the high-flying offensive juggernaut got off to a very slow start against the Oklahoma Sooners. For the first quarter and a half, Baylor didn’t “feel like us” as head coach Art Briles said afterwards as the Bears managed just a field goal in the opening frame. Then injuries started to pick at the Bears’ offense with running backs Glasco Martin and then Lache Seastrunk getting dinged up and No. 1 receiver Tevin Reese with a dislocated wrist. Luckily for the Bears, third string running back Shock Linwood was ready to answer the call and stepped up in a major way.
Linwood had been getting some nice playing time this season in mop-up duty at the ends of games and entered Thursday with 443 yards rushing, averaging a robust 8.1 yards per carry and had proven himself to be a tough runner, averaging 38.7 yards per game after contact. Against the Oklahoma defense, he showed that his tough-running was no fluke, racking up 182 yards on 23 carries with an astonishing 97 yards coming after contact. Over half of the 200-pound freshman’s yards came after he had broken the tackle of a Sooner defender.
That “next man up” mentality is the mark of a mentally tough team which is not something you have always been able to say about Baylor football. With a dominant win over one of the standard-bearers of the Big 12, the Bears can shed their “paper tiger” stigma and step into the conversation as a legitimate contender for the BCS National Championship. They’ll still need some help to get into the title game but Baylor has finally put a win on their resume that earns them a good, hard look as the season winds down.
Having a quality No. 3 option out of the backfield like Linwood gives Baylor almost an unfair amount of depth at running back. With the entire roster ready to step up for this run, can the Bears find pay-dirt at season’s end with a Big 12 title and a shot at the national championship?