No. 7 Baylor still in Big 12 chase with 3rd QB and help - Sports Illustrated

No. 7 Baylor still in Big 12 chase with 3rd QB and help

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WACO, Texas (AP) While needing some help and probably about to use its third different starting quarterback, No. 7 Baylor still has a chance to win its third consecutive Big 12 title.

A win over previously undefeated Oklahoma State kept the Bears (9-1, 6-1) in the Big 12 race, and depending on the outcome of other games around the nation, maybe still in position for a playoff spot.

''We do like the fact that it's late in the season, and we're still in the hunts - with an s,'' coach Art Briles said Monday. ''We know it's hard for everybody to look at you and you to deliver week after week after week. ... Of course, we haven't done anything yet and haven't finished. But at least up to this point, we're still standing pretty solid.''

The Bears first have to win Friday night at No. 15 TCU (9-2, 6-2), when sophomore Chris Johnson likely gets his first career start for Baylor after throwing two touchdowns in relief of injured freshman starter Jarrett Stidham in a 45-35 win at Oklahoma State last Saturday.

Since a tiebreaker will be used and no more co-champions are declared in the Big 12, Baylor could become the champ again by winning its last two games - against TCU, then Dec. 5 at home against Texas - and if No. 9 Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1) wins Saturday night at home over No. 5 Oklahoma (10-1, 7-1), the team that gave Baylor its only loss less than two weeks ago.

''After that OU game, we felt a lot of people were writing us off as a team and a contender,'' senior linebacker and leading tackler Grant Campbell said. ''We wanted to prove people wrong this past week taking down an undefeated team in Stillwater. Our goals have not changed.''

Stidham was already dealing with a sore back before the Oklahoma State game. He banged his throwing (right) hand early Saturday, then right before halftime had his leg rolled up on in what was initially described as an ankle injury.

Briles said Monday that it was more an issue of the bone in his lower leg and termed Stidham as ''very questionable'' to play against TCU. The coach also said he was uncertain about Big 12 rushing leader Shock Linwood because of a knee and ankle issue.

Stidham has started Baylor's three games since junior Seth Russell, then the top-rated FBS passer, got hurt Oct. 24 and had season-ending neck surgery.

Johnson, who had been working as a receiver since before the season, was then moved back to quarterback to prepare as Stidham's backup. Johnson was 5 of 10 for 138 yards and the two TDs against Oklahoma State, even though his practice reps before that had been with the second-teamers and not the regular starters.

Briles said the Bears were starting the week preparing for Johnson to start Friday, and that they had options for backups.

''It's an opportunity to get more in-sync with those guys,'' Johnson said. ''It's a little different having to just jump in there in the middle of a game with those guys without having practiced with them much. Getting some time with them will help out a lot.

After Stidham was an early enrollee last January, went through spring drills and earned the backup role, Johnson was moved to receiver late in preseason practice. Johnson completed his only four passes for 45 yards last season, and has three catches for 37 yards this year.

''He's extremely confident. He has great ability out there,'' standout left tackle Spencer Drango said. ''It feels like we've had the same quarterback (each week) since we started.''



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