OU football: Sooners' loss at Kansas State gave them confidence to come back vs. Baylor
NORMAN — Two of the biggest figures in Oklahoma’s eventual 34-31 comeback win over Baylor on Saturday night came together at halftime in Waco.
“This is going to be one hell of a story to tell our kids,” Sooners defensive coordinator Alex Grinch said to quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Hurts offered a quick response.
“Just add another one to the list,” Hurts said. “One of many.”
Oklahoma trailed 31-10 at the time and a comeback seemed somewhere between improbable and impossible, more on the side of the latter.
But Hurts, Grinch and plenty of other Sooners believed it was possible.
Those seeds of belief were planted three weeks earlier, when Oklahoma nearly came back from a similarly daunting deficit at Kansas State.
“You never know 100 percent that you're going to be able to come back from something like that, but I think they all felt like we had a chance,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said. “I’ve got to be honest, even at K-State when we got down in that third quarter, I think maybe about half of us really believed we had a chance to come back and win that thing. In this one, there was not one person on that sideline that didn't believe it.”
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That confidence alone didn’t lead to the comeback, but it at least made it realistic.
“The belief for a comeback like that is where it starts,” Riley said.
In Manhattan, Kansas, on Oct. 26, the Sooners trailed 48-23 early in the fourth quarter before coming back to cut the Kansas State lead to seven with less than two minutes remaining.
That comeback ended just short as OU’s onside kick attempt following a field goal was ruled to have touched a Sooner player before going 10 yards.
“We saw when we were almost at that finish line, what it takes to get there and we didn't cross that finish line against K-State. We saw how much we had to do and how much work we had to put in for things to happen to cross that finish line,” cornerback Parnell Motley said. “We saw that breaking point last time. Fool me once, fool me twice, you won't get it again. And we just went that way about things and we just kinda came together and stuck together as a team."
Saturday’s comeback was unprecedented in Sooners history. Oklahoma had never won a game when trailing by more than 21 points.
The Sooners have nearly done it twice this season but without the tough loss at Kansas State, there might not be a comeback for the ages in Waco.
“It definitely instilled some confidence in us that if we do keep fighting through the adversity we can eventually get outcome we want,” defensive end Ronnie Perkins said. “And I feel like Saturday that’s what we did.”
And the result put the Sooners in first place in the Big 12 and kept them alive in the hunt for another College Football Playoff berth.
“Even if we didn't play well in a period here or there, I knew we were going to just fight our tails off,” Riley said. “You just knew that. Our team knew that. They felt that.”
TCU at No. 10 OU
When: 7 p.m., Saturday
Where: Owen Field, Norman
TV: Fox (Cox 12)
Radio: KRXO-FM 107.7