Baylor quarterback Seth Russell was knocked out of the game during the Bears’ 45-27 victory against Iowa State in Waco, today, Saturday, October 24 in a nationally-televised game on ESPN. Helmet-to-helmet contact by an Iowa State defender late in the fourth quarter against Russell appeared to daze the starting quarterback on a rainy day on the Brazos River. Russell fell to the ground leaving the Bears in a fourth and one situation near the Cyclone 20.
ESPN commentators said they expected Baylor Coach Art Briles to go for it on fourth down with a 35-20 lead at the time. But close up camera views by ESPN showed that Russell appeared dazed as the team lined up for the next play. Briles then pulled Russell from the game and called on Chris Callahan to kick a field goal which extended the lead to 38-20. Baylor’s defense stopped the Cyclones on the next series and five-star freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham replaced Russell at quarterback.
The highly-touted true freshman looked sharp during his relief appearance which clinched the victory. Stidham marched the Bears methodically down the field and even handled a high snap from center which could’ve derailed the drive. After corralling the errant snap he outraced several defenders around left end before he was knocked out of bounds around the ISU 20-yard line. He drove Baylor inside the 10 yard line and then connected with leading receiver Corey Coleman for the touchdown which iced the game at 45-27. Stidham, a highly-recruited star from Stephenville, Texas, looked poised beyond his years during the game-clinching drive.
The biggest question coming out of this game for the second-ranked Bears is who will start in Manhattan, Kansas at quarterback? Stidham has thrown eight touchdown passes during mop-up duty this season against no interceptions. Russell sat on the bench with a towel draped over his head during the rest of the game. There was speculation by the ESPN crew that Russell may have been going throwing the concussion protocol. If Russell is unable to go against KSU, Stidham appears to be more than ready to take over the reins of the offense against the Wildcats.
Russell was impressive during the first half of the Iowa State game as he passed and ran the Bears to a 35-7 lead. But the Bears may have suffered from over-confidence in the third quarter as they were shut out while several of Russell’s passes were batted down by the Cyclone defensive line. ISU mounted a comeback in the second half during which it reeled off 20 consecutive points to cut the lead to 35-20. Baylor clearly missed its top defensive lineman Andrew Billings during the game as the Cyclones ran through the Bear defense without him anchoring the line.
Billings was injured against West Virginia a week ago when two offensive linemen hit him low on a double team. Baylor officials were relieved to hear tests showed Billings ankle was not broken. However, he was wearing a boot during this past week. he reportedly suffered a sprain and was held out of the Iowa State game. Whether or not he will be healthy enough to against Bill Snyder’s KSU team is a major question.
Baylor climbs to 7-0 on the season and 4-0 in the Big 12. The Bears must face Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas during the homestretch of their season after Kansas State. In another Big 12 game today Oklahoma plays Texas Tech in what has been dubbed as the Baker Mayfield Bowl. Quarterback Mayfield walked on at Texas Tech before walking on at Oklahoma. Mayfield will have motivation in this expected offensive showdown.
Stidham originally committed to Texas Tech and Klif Kingsbury. However, he later de-committed from the Red Raiders. He was then recruited by Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon and many others. He narrowed his choice down to Oregon and Baylor, according to Bleacher Report. It was no shock that he ended up at Baylor as Art Briles led Stephenville to their first four state championships while he was coach there.
Stidham said now offensive co-ordinator Kendal Briles and Art Briles both recruited him. He said that Kendal was a “cool dude”, and could relate to him age-wise. Kendal is the son of Art Briles and calls the plays in the high-powered offense. Stidham was the No. 3 ranked dual threat quarterback in the nation coming out of high school. He reportedly told Baylor coaches he didn’t want to redshirt his freshman season. That may have been the correct decision as the Bears may need him as they continue the quest for their first ever national football championship.
Former Burkburnett High School star running back Devin Chafin was welcomed back to the lineup as he smashed across the goal line for a two-yard touchdown run in the first half. He had been sidelined this season by injury. He could be a major cog as the Bears try for their third straight Big 12 championship.