WACO, Texas -- What kind of coach calls a timeout with 3 seconds left to kick a field goal, while up by 10, basically knowing it's not going to interpreted well on the other sideline? The same coach who had the foresight to research that the Big 12's esoteric third tiebreaker -- used if three teams are tied in the standings ahead of the Big 12 Championship Game -- is point differential.
The same coach who not only devised a plan to smother the nation's best freshman quarterback in Caleb Williams but had a flair for the dramatic in similarly smothering Williams' backup. Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler, coming off the bench attempting to lead a comeback win over Baylor for another edition of Sooner Magic, would have been a heck of a storyline.
But after Williams played the worst game of his young career and got yanked, Rattler did not redeem himself.
No. 8 Oklahoma played one of the worst games of the Lincoln Riley era as No. 13 Baylor triumphed 27-14 at home.
In the short term, we must consider a College Football Playoff without Oklahoma and perhaps anyone from the Big 12. In the long term, we must consider that special blend of brains and brawn that is Baylor coach Dave Aranda.
"You can catch the identity of being an orphan, and you want the identity of being a family," said Baylor's 45-year-old leader while summing up the biggest win of his young head coaching career.
Who talks about orphans after a convincing field-storming win that was -- in terms of yards allowed -- Riley's worst defeat? Well, this guy. The same coach who was the brains behind limiting OU to its fewest yards under Riley (260). The same defensive mind who devised the plan that held the Sooners to their fewest points since the 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl.
The same well-traveled man who speaks more with his actions than his actual words. We got that at the end of the game when the field had to be cleared of fans with three ticks left. Aranda had ordered a field goal to push the final margin to 13. He understood how it was going to be interpreted by the Sooners.
"I think they're not happy with it," Aranda said.
Indeed, they weren't.
"I know why Dave tried to kick the field goal," Riley said. "I think there's a code of sportsmanship that I think you have to follow. I wouldn't have done it."
Aranda essentially disposed of some long-term impression of running up the score for the immediate reward of sending a message to his players: Hey, we're not out of the Big 12 race.
"That's the kind of coach he is. That's the kind of person he is," linebacker Terrell Bernard said.
Aranda got the call at Baylor after Matt Rhule left for the Carolina Panthers a couple of years ago. Given the former Wisconsin, LSU and Hawaii defensive coordinator had never been a head coach before, there had to be consternation about the new guy when the Bears went 2-7 during a COVID-19 impacted 2020.
Don't think the flip to 8-2 this season hasn't left an impression.
"The fans rushing the field there at the end, I'm thinking about December or January, guys who had a chance [to transfer and] didn't leave," Aranda said. "I'm thinking about staff that had opportunities to leave after last year and decided to stay."
These are not football orphans. These Bears find themselves back in the Big 12 race despite inexplicably losing at TCU last week. The Baylor family that Aranda covets so much celebrating in their McLane Stadium locker room Saturday afternoon is a curious blend of cerebral thinking and physicality.
Like Baylor's coach.
The quarterback, Gerry Bohanon, who bulled his way to 107 yards rushing and accounted for three touchdowns, was once a linebacker. The 1,000-yard running back, Abram Smith, who helped break the game open with a 75-yard run in third quarter, himself started four times at linebacker in 2020.
"I made my mind up Sunday. I was going to play violent this week," Bohanon said. "We're going to be the most violent team on the field. I think it showed."
During one stretch between the third and fourth quarters, Oklahoma ran 17 plays and gained 26 yards. Williams fumbled on third down, eventually resulting in a fourth-and-40. Rattler was sacked in that sequence when Bernard bull-rushed center Andrew Raym and powered his way past RB Kennedy Brooks to reach the quarterback.
"That's a great example," Aranda said of the 17-point fourth quarter that sealed the win, "of what can happen when you're up and still driving and moving people and everyone on the sidelines is happy, smiling. But I'm going to put a grimace on my face and hit someone in the face."
Oklahoma's frustration probably carried to the team busses. The Sooners need help now to get to the College Football Playoff. They no longer control their own destiny. The usually mild-mannered Baylor student section stuck the knives in, chanting, "We want Spencer," when Williams was ineffective. They got him. Rattler was 4 of 6 for 36 yards. Williams posted the worst numbers of his to-this-point wonderful freshman season: 10 of 19 for 146 yards and two interceptions.
When victory became assured, the familiar refrain rang across McClane: "S-E-C, S-E-C, S-E-C".
"At some point in every game, we see the opponent wearing down," Bohanon said. "Even when we're tired, looking at the guys on the other side of the ball, we think, 'Keep going.'"
Aranda's last great coaching act was coordinating the LSU defense in perhaps the best season ever by a college team. That defense was not the first chapter of the 2019 national championship book. It was Joe Burrow and 60 touchdown passes. It was complete RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire and all those great wide receivers. It was beating Alabama in game-of-the-century a shootout. Ah, but it was also shutting down Clemson star QB Trevor Lawrence in that CFP National Championship.
After that season, Aranda got serious interest from USC to be its next defensive coordinator before Baylor hired him as its coach.
"We were all set to have him," a USC source said back then. "We matched LSU's deal."
Aranda reveals himself in cultured, knowledgeable football pieces. During a TV interview Friday, he spoke of "bang-to-buzz [defensive] players, that they get their bang on, on the slots and not give them free releases to disrupt an RPO timing."
It was not analysis that lent itself to a bite-size TV interview. But that's Aranda. He gives credit to the media for at least attempting to understand.
To the Bears, it always makes sense.
Now there's reason to consider another Baylor rebirth. Rhule led the Bears out of the Art Briles-era scandal. It's almost hard to recall that, less than two years ago, Baylor was in overtime with Oklahoma for the Big 12 title and a playoff spot.
Aranda just posted the signature win of his administration. With a few more defensive stands and some research on the calculator, maybe the Bears sneak into the Big 12 Championship Game again. If it's because of the tiebreaker, you'll remember this moment.
Aranda is already planning on it.
"That's Coach Aranda," Bohanon said. "It always makes sense."