Oklahoma State vs. Baylor football: Five takeaways from Cowboys' loss to Bears in Big 12 title game

Scott Wright

ARLINGTON, Texas — A game of inches, it was. Oklahoma State running back Dezmon Jackson came down inches short of the corner of the end zone pylon and the Cowboys’ miraculous season had run out of miracles.

The Cowboys put themselves in position to overcome quarterback Spencer Sanders’ four interceptions, but came up short on fourth-and-goal from the 1 yard line in the final minute, losing the Big 12 championship game to Baylor 21-16 on Saturday at AT&T Stadium.

As damaging as the four picks were, the Cowboys’ inability to score in the red zone killed the comeback. 

OSU got inside the 1 on a previous possession, trailing 21-13, and was forced to kick a field goal. 

In the final minutes, the Cowboys had first-and-goal at the 1 after a pass interference penalty in the end zone. But OSU was stuffed on two run plays, then threw an incomplete pass on third down, setting up Jackson’s desperation run for the corner, which came up short.

As Big 12 runner-up, OSU will be out of the College Football Playoff mix, but might still land in a New Year’s Six bowl game.

Bowl destinations will be announced on Sunday afternoon.

Here are four more takeaways from Saturday's game:

Tramel:The trenches & benches, flinches & inches, are all tied together in OSU's loss to Baylor

OSU report card:Cowboys lose in the trenches and lose Big 12 Championship Game to Baylor

Defensive turnaround

Put in several bad situations in the first half, OSU’s defense surrendered 206 yards and 21 points. But as they’ve done all season, the Cowboys found answers after halftime. 

In the second half, the Cowboys forced a turnover on downs, a missed field goal attempt and three punts. Baylor had 37 total yards in the second half.

Carlson:How Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy resurrected his career & popularity

Korie Black in the right spot

Special teams plays helped keep OSU in the game and Korie Black was a key figure.

The sophomore cornerback blocked a field goal on the final play before halftime that would have put Baylor up by 18 points. 

In the fourth quarter, Baylor punt returner Trestan Ebner muffed a Top Hutton punt and Black was in position to fall on the loose ball. OSU ended up getting a field goal to cut the deficit to 21-16.

Carlson:Why Oklahoma State's hurt is deep after loss to Baylor in Big 12 Championship Game

Baylor safety Jairon McVea tackles OSU tailback Dezmon Jackson just short of the goal line, giving the Bears the 2021 Big 12 championship.

OSU vs. Baylor football:Spencer Sanders sets Big 12 title game record for INTs & more notable numbers

Shapen’s crazy start

Baylor was without starting quarterback Gerry Bohanon because of a hamstring injury suffered two weeks ago, but redshirt freshman backup Blake Shapen excelled in his second career start.

Shapen started the game by completing his first 17 passes, setting a Big 12 championship game record. He threw three touchdown passes as Baylor jumped to a 21-3 lead.

'Give 'em a shutout':How Oklahoma State's defense stifled Baylor in near Big 12 comeback

Offense hindered by health issues

The Oklahoma State offense shot itself in the foot multiple times early on, but that wasn’t the only wound it was dealing with.

Starting running back Jaylen Warren reaggravated an ankle injury that has hampered him the second half of the season and was ruled out. Slot receiver Brennan Presley was reportedly “under the weather” and was used as a return man, but saw very little action at receiver.

Tight end Logan Carter missed the second straight game. And center Danny Godlevske missed his third straight game.