Whether Baylor knew it or not on Thursday, it competed in college football’s equivalent of a WWE “Beat The Clock” match.
Crushing Oklahoma, as it turned out, wasn’t enough for the Bears on their biggest stage in recent memory.
No. Baylor instead needed to cover the spread in the first quarter-and-a-half – Florida State vs. inferior ACC teams-style. Or Ohio State vs. Purdue-style.
The Bears got 90 minutes – of real time, not of game time – to make a nation-impressing statement.
Once that clock expired, the majority of the college football-watching nation flipped from the Big 12 appetizer to the Pac-12 main course – Oregon at Stanford.
In the beauty competition that is today’s college football, Baylor needed to score major style points to catch Ohio State – at least during the second week in November.
Baylor did make up ground on the Buckeyes. The Bears trail Ohio State by 25 points in the USA Today Coaches Poll after their dominant 41-12 victory over then-No. 10 Oklahoma. Previously they were 70 points behind.
Coach Art Briles’ team made up ground in the Harris Poll as well, cutting a 150-point deficit to 69 points.
It’s worth asking, though: Had Baylor done in the first 20 minutes of the game what it did in the 20 subsequent 20 minutes, would the Bears have vaulted the Buckeyes in this week’s BCS standings?
If a Bear dismantles a Sooner and nobody watches, did it really happen?
Well, the scoreboard said it did. But fans weren’t exposed to the dynamic, explosive offense currently averaging 61 points per game.
Instead, the nation changed the channel with Baylor leading 10-5 and looking average on offense.
Over the next 20 minutes of game time, the Bears outscored Oklahoma 24-7, icing the game even without their two top tailbacks, Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin, and leading receiver Tevin Reese.
Ultimately, Baylor scored an impressive victory.
The Bears just didn’t beat the clock.
They do, however, have four more chances to persuade voters and computers alike with games remaining against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas.
Maybe in those games, Baylor will get the full allotment of time to impress.