No. 6 Baylor's elite combo of quarterback Bryce Petty and running back Lache Seastrunk entered Thursday's contest with No. 10 Oklahoma as serious Heisman Trophy contenders.
Only one left still in the running.
The Bears embarrassed the Sooners 41-12, but it was behind the arm of Petty with little in the way of contributions from Seastrunk.
Seastrunk entered the game as one of the nation's best runners, as ESPN illustrates:
Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk is averaging 9.1 yards per rush, second in the FBS behind Marcus Mariota.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 7, 2013
After rushing for 869 yards and 11 scores on a stellar 9.1 average, including six of seven games with over 100 yards or more but never reaching the 20-carry mark, Seastrunk finally had a chance against a major opponent under the national spotlight to firmly place himself on the Heisman short list.
Instead, Seastrunk succumbed to injury and limped off the field early, as detailed by John McClain of the Houston Chronicle:
Baylor has lost 2 biggest offensive weapons: RB Lache Seastrunk and WR Tevin Reese.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) November 8, 2013
Seastrunk would return to the game for a nice rush, as McClain points out:
RB Lache Seastrunk returns to the lineup and gains 5.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) November 8, 2013
Unfortunately, by the time the junior back could return, the contest was well in hand, and it made little sense to risk further injury. Seastrunk finished with just six carries for 19 yards.
Further damaging Seastrunk's candidacy was the fact that fellow running back Shock Linwood had little issue taking over and putting up video game-esque numbers himself with 23 carries for 182 yards.
While Seastrunk fell completely off the map, Petty was finally discovered by the country.
Petty started slowly, but eventually took over and put together impressive drives such as this:
While Petty only managed 204 yards through the air, his five total touchdowns (two on the ground along with 45 rushing yards) more than make up for his lack of gaudy stats:
More importantly, Petty's five total scores made it possible for the Bears to stay in national title conversation and also give him that marquee victory voters always hold in such high regard when making the final decision.
It's interesting that Petty was left out of the conversation with the likes of Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston in the first place.
Is Bryce Petty a legit Heisman contender?
After all, Petty had thrown for over 2,400 yards entering the contest and had scored 20 total times with just one interception as his team steamrolled the competition to a 7-0 record, including the nation's best scoring average at 63.9 points per game and four of seven contests with 70 or more points.
The biggest disappointment on the night for Petty? It was his first game of the year he failed to record at least 300 yards through the air.
Alas, if Petty was not on the mind of Heisman voters entering Thursday, he absolutely is now. A major victory over the Sooners solidifies that, and now voters will actually have to look at Petty's body of work, and more importantly—take it seriously.
Petty still has big games against Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas to decide the Big 12. Should he continue at the current pace, he has a legitimate shot at college football's most prestigious individual prize.