No. 9 Baylor still has Big 12 title shot after win over Tech

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Texas Tech wide receiver Kaylon Geiger catches a pass between Baylor cornerback Zeke Brown and safety Jairon McVea, right, in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson)

WACO, Texas – Blake Shapen threw for 254 yards and two touchdowns in his first start for ninth-ranked Baylor, and the Bears held on for a 27-24 win over Texas Tech on Saturday that kept alive their hopes of making the Big 12 championship game for the second time in three seasons.

Abram Smith ran for 117 yards and a touchdown for the Bears (10-2, 7-2 Big 12, CFP No. 8), who had to wait for the outcome of Saturday night's game between No. 7 Oklahoma State and No. 10 Oklahoma. The Cowboys were already locked into their first Big 12 title game, and a win over the Sooners in Bedlam would put Baylor in next Saturday's game with them.

“We were fully focused on Texas Tech, and we're ready for whatever comes next," linebacker Terrel Bernard said. “We’re excited that we won this game ... and we’ll see what happens.”

Baylor coach Dave Aranda said he understood the implications of the game later Saturday night, but mentioned “stuff you can’t control" and said he was proud how his team grew and came together after going 2-7 in his debut last year.

Shapen hit Trestan Ebner in stride near the 25 for a 61-yard catch-and-run score on the game's opening drive that put Baylor ahead to stay. Shapen had a decisive 9-yard TD pass to tight end Ben Sims with 7 minutes left to respond to a Tech score.

The Red Raiders (6-6, 3-6) still had one more chance after stopping Baylor on fourth down on its 12 with 1:18 and no timeouts left. They got in position for a 53-yard field goal attempt by Jonathan Garibay, who had plenty of leg but pushed the kick wide left on the final play. Garibay, who was 13-of-13 on field goals before then, had a game-ending 62-yarder to beat Iowa State two week earlier.

“Incredibly proud of our team, the fight that they showed,” Sonny Cumbie said of Saturday and all four of his games as Tech's interim head coach. “It’s so easy when things go against you to take your ball and go home, to take your ball and stop playing and to stop fighting. And if anything, these kids did just the opposite.”

Donovan Smith was 16-of-23 passing for 262 yards with two late TD passes for the Red Raiders, who a week earlier had only 108 total yards in a 23-0 loss to Oklahoma State in their home finale. That was the first time Tech was shut out in a 303-game span since 1997.

Smith's 38-yard TD to Mannix McLane with 11:37 left cut the deficit to 20-17. Baylor responded with a 10-play drive that ended with Shapen's pass to Sims. Then Smith threw a screen pass to tight end Travis Kootz that turned into a 75-yard score.

Shapen completed 20 of 34 passes starting in place of Gerry Bohanon, who injured his right hamstring late in the first half of a 20-10 win last week at Kansas State that Shapen finished.

Smith's 4-yard TD for a 17-3 lead with 5 minutes left in the first half came five plays after Raleigh Texada sacked Smith and forced a fumble he recovered at the Tech 24. Tahj Brooks had a 1-yard TD run to cut Tech's halftime deficit to 17-10.

THE TAKEAWAY

Texas Tech: New Red Raiders coach Joey McGuire, who was in his fifth season on Baylor's staff before getting hired three weeks ago, did not attend the game. Cumbie, who will coach their bowl game, will then remain on McGuire's staff as offensive coordinator. ... Texas Tech will have to win its bowl game to avoid a sixth consecutive losing record.

Baylor: The Bears' unexpected loss at TCU on Nov. 6 ended up having had no impact on their situation in the Big 12 race on the final day of the regular season. Even if they had won that game three weeks earlier, Baylor had to win Saturday and have Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma. The Bears lost 24-14 at Oklahoma State on Oct. 2, and beat the Sooners 27-14 at home two weeks ago.

UP NEXT

Texas Tech will find out next weekend who and where it will play in its first bowl game since 2017.

Baylor had to wait for the outcome of the Bedlam game Saturday night to determine if the Bears would play in the Big 12 title game or if their next game is a bowl.

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