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No. 9 Baylor Still Can Have Its Best Season Ever

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WACO (AP) – Baylor running back Shock Linwood had a hard time sleeping because he couldn’t quit thinking about what happened.

Quarterback Bryce Petty was quickly reminding everyone that the ninth-ranked Bears still have plenty in reach, even though their national championship hopes ended with that lopsided loss at Oklahoma State.

“Does that game kind of change our postseason chances? Maybe a little bit,” Petty said. “But it definitely doesn’t take away anything from the season that we’ve had, and that we’re going to have.”

While the 49-17 loss did put a damper on what had been an unblemished record, the Bears (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) can still have their best season ever. They can still win their first Big 12 title, and can still get to a BCS bowl.

The Bears have to keep all that in perspective with two games left in the regular season, at TCU (4-7, 2-6) this weekend before closing out at home against Texas.

“It’s a challenge, but there’s certainly a lot out there and we’ve got to start Saturday,” coach Art Briles said.

This was the latest Baylor had ever gotten into a season before its first loss. The only undefeated season in school history was a 3-0 record in 1900, and the Bears have reached 10 wins only twice (1980 with linebacker Mike Singletary, and 2011 with Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III).

Cyril Richardson, the Bears’ big left guard, said they always talk about putting losses — or wins — behind them.

“Now is the time to practice what we preach,” Richardson said. “We are definitely going to do that.”

Briles will be coaching with a heavy heart following the unexpected death of his older brother, Eddie, who died Wednesday from an apparent head injury after a fall.

Win their last two games, and the Bears are guaranteed at least a share of the Big 12 title no matter what the seventh-ranked Cowboys (10-1, 7-1) do in their Dec. 7 finale against No. 20 Oklahoma.

If Oklahoma State loses the Bedlam game, which should end about the same time Baylor kicks off against Texas that day, the Bears could win the outright Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl berth.

Even if Baylor ties for the Big 12 title and is left out of the Fiesta, a one-loss Bears team that is still on a record-setting pace with 56 points and 662 total yards a game could be an attractive option for an at-large BCS spot.

Baylor has faced 14-0 deficits in its last two games. The Bears recovered quickly against Texas Tech to take a 21-20 lead by the end of the first quarter and never trailed again.

But they were down 35-3 after three quarters at Oklahoma State last Saturday night. The Bears had three fumbles, one by Petty and two by Linwood, who was held to 29 yards on 14 carries after consecutive 180-yard rushing games.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot,” Linwood said. “But I just have to let it go and move on to TCU.”

The Oklahoma State game was still scoreless when Petty tripped short of the end zone and fell down at the 1. Two plays later, Linwood fumbled trying to stretch for a touchdown, and the Cowboys responded with a 99-yard touchdown drive.

Petty, the fourth-year junior in his first season as a starter, is confident that the Bears will show their resiliency against the Frogs.

“It’s due to the better leadership of the guys and we just didn’t have things go our way,” Petty said. “The past few games, we’ve had mishaps where we were able to capitalize and we knew that we couldn’t have that (against Oklahoma State). … We couldn’t give their offense that many opportunities. Unfortunately we did, and that was the outcome. As an offense, we’ve got to get better.

“This week, we’ve got to have a good week of practice,” he said. “Have fun, and just be Baylor.”

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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