Baylor didn’t win Thursday’s Cotton Bowl game against seventh-ranked Michigan State, but the Bears left Arlington with plenty to fill a résumé.
Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty won offensive MVP honors after a record-setting showing, and Bears linebacker Taylor Young won defensive MVP honors.
Petty set the Cotton Bowl single-game record for passing yards (550) after completing 36 of 51 passes. Baylor as a team set an FBS bowl record with 603 yards passing. Receiver Jay Lee hit Corey Coleman for a 53-yard touchdown pass for the rest of the Bears’ passing total.
Defensive end Shawn Oakman broke Baylor’s single-season record for sacks, taking down Connor Cook in the first quarter for his 11th of the season. He entered the game half of a sack away from the mark.
Freshman receiver KD Cannon finished the game with eight catches for 197 yards while Coleman added 150 on seven receptions.
At a point in the third quarter when everything seemed to be working for Baylor, the Bears pulled out a big play; a very big play.
LaQuan McGowan, a 6-foot-7, 390-pound junior from Amarillo who has spent the season as a backup guard, slipped through the middle of Michigan State’s defense and caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Petty to put Baylor ahead 41-21.
McGowan was an eligible receiver because he was wearing jersey No. 80. At the end of the touchdown run, 5-foot-11 receiver Antwan Goodley gave McGowan a celebratory hoist into the air.
It was McGowan’s first catch of his college career.
Michigan State’s comeback was only the second time this college football season that a team came back from a fourth-quarter deficit of 20 points or more to win the game. The other time? Oct. 11, when Baylor overcame a 21-point deficit to beat TCU 61-58 in Waco.
The Cotton Bowl marked Baylor’s fifth consecutive year in a bowl game — all under coach Art Briles — extending the longest stretch in school history. Baylor is 2-3 in those games. Baylor has scored 213 points in the five games, an average of 42.6 points, and allowed 214 points, an average of 42.8. Briles is now 2-7 in bowl games after going 0-4 in his tenure at Houston.
Michigan State’s victory over Baylor was its fourth consecutive bowl game win, and each one required the Spartans to overcome a halftime deficit.
Michigan State’s defense yielded 583 total yards but did come up with a strong finish that included consecutive sacks of Petty before the game-sealing interception by Riley Bullough. It was the last game for Spartans defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who will be head coach at Pittsburgh.