Baylor running back Abram Smith (7) dives for a touchdown against BYU during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Waco, Texas. Baylor won 38-24. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
WACO, Texas (AP) — Abram Smith and Dillon Doyle were quite a 1-2 running punch for Baylor, providing future Big 12 foe and 19th-ranked BYU a glimpse at what the Cougars could face in their new conference.
Smith ran for 188 yards with three touchdowns, while linebacker and part-time fullback Doyle scored on both of his offensive touches in a 38-24 win Saturday.
“Obviously not our best game,” BYU coach Kilani Sitake said. “We just were out-physicaled today, so that was a difficult game to accept. … Really got a good gut-check.”
Baylor (6-1) led by only three points midway through the third quarter before Doyle caught a 2-yard TD pass from Gerry Bohanon. Smith ran for a 7-yard score about 3 1/2 minutes later to make it 31-14, after TJ Franklin’s sack that forced a fumble by Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall.
“This was a standard game … I think is a big thing for us, having it come from the inside, intrinsically being able to push yourself,” second-year Bears coach Dave Aranda said. “That’s a big step in the right direction. ”
BYU (5-2) last month accepted an invitation to join the Big 12 Conference starting in the 2023 season. The Cougars have lost back-to-back games for the first time since the end of 2019, after a 5-0 start that included three wins over Pac-12 teams and peaking at No. 10 in the AP Top 25.
Former BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes is in his first season in that role at Baylor, which had 534 total yards. Grimes visited and greeted several former players during pregame warmups, then his current team had its fourth 500-yard game this season, including 303 yards rushing.
Smith, who had 27 carries, put Baylor ahead to stay midway through the second quarter with a 9-yard TD, when he was hit by a defender short of the end zone, and then another, before bulling his way in for the score.
“There’s just a difference from dudes that will look for openings and look for maybe doors, and there’s guys who will just run through walls,” Aranda said. “When you have someone who wants to run through a wall and has that ability to do it, that can transform your offense.”
Bohanon completed 18 of 28 passes for 231 yards with the TD to Doyle, who also ran 2 yards for a score late in the first half. Bohanon, the fourth-year junior and first-year starter, threw his first interception of the season — on his 153rd attempt, when the Bears went for it on fourth-and-4 from the 6 early when the game was still scoreless.
Hall had four completions of at least 45 yards while hitting 22 of 31 passes for 342 yards, and had a nifty 56-yard TD run on a fourth-and-1. Puka Nacua had five catches for 168 yards, with three of the long passes before a 16-yard TD in the closing minutes.
The Cougars were within 17-14 on Hall’s TD run, when he lined up under center before dropping back into shotgun formation. He faked a handoff right before going left side untouched and Sitake, the former BYU running back, did a celebratory sprint down the sideline when Hall broke free.
“Too much of a roller coaster ride for us today. A lot of a lot of ups and unfortunately, a lot of downs,” Hall said. “We made a lot of great, great plays, big plays throughout the game from beginning to end. But too many times we just follow up with another bad play.”
BYU: Aside from Hall’s long TD run, the Cougars couldn’t get anything going on the ground. Tyler Allgeier had a 1-yard TD runearly in the second quarter for BYU’s only lead, but finished with 15 carries for 33 yards. He was averaging 106.2 yards per game, but does have a TD in five consecutive games.
Baylor: The Bears, who went 2-7 in coach Aranda’s debut last season, already are bowl eligible with five games remaining in the regular season. Baylor has two wins against Top 25 teams after none since 2015.
Robert Griffin III, the Baylor quarterback who was the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner, led out the Baylor Line, the group of first-year students who run to length of the field pregame to form a tunnel for the team. Griffin showed some impressive speed, including a late burst to be the first to the other end, where he was briefly swarmed by students. Griffin was doing color commentary for the ESPN television broadcast.
BYU likely will fall out of the poll only two weeks after peaking at No. 10. Baylor, among the first few teams out last week, could potentially get back into the Top 25 for the second time this season.
BYU: The Cougars are on the road for the third time in four weeks Saturday at Washington State.
Baylor: After an open date, the Bears play their third consecutive home game on Oct. 30 against No. 25 Texas.
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