WACO, Texas — Seth Russell has been keeping an eye the past few weeks on a determined receiver in Ishmael Zamora and a frustrated one in Chris Platt.
What the Baylor quarterback saw from the pair of sophomores against Oklahoma State didn’t surprise him.
Russell threw four touchdown passes, including an 89-yarder to Platt for the go-ahead score in the third quarter, and the No. 16 Bears held on to beat the Cowboys 35-24 on Saturday night in the weather-delayed Big 12 opener for both teams.
Zamora had career highs of 175 yards receiving and two touchdowns on eight catches in his season debut for the Bears after a three-game suspension over a video of him whipping his dog that surfaced during the summer. Platt also had two TDs.
“He never takes any days off,” Russell said about Zamora. “When he was suspended, he never griped one day. He came to work, and it showed tonight.”
As for Platt, Russell said it’s been difficult for the young receiver to shake off a case of the drops in recent games.
“I just kept trying to encourage him,” Russell said. “He’s a soft-spoken guy. He came out firing and he did some great things like we knew he would.”
Baylor earned its fourth consecutive 4-0 start in its first big test after a light nonconference schedule.
The game was stopped by lightning for about 1 1/2 hours after the Bears scored on the opening series.
The Cowboys (2-2) lost three fumbles, including the second by Justice Hill after he picked up a first down at the Baylor 2 with Oklahoma State trailing 28-24 with 9 minutes remaining. Hill, who had 122 yards rushing, was originally ruled down, but the call was overturned on review.
“This game was pretty easy to see,” coach Mike Gundy said. “Travel on the road and turn the ball over three times and then your defense gives up way too many big plays.”
With leading Baylor receiver KD Cannon out for most of the game with a groin injury, Zamora’s first TD came when Russell’s high pass went through Lynx Hawthorne’s hands and into the sophomore’s arms. Because the defense converged on Hawthorne, Zamora raced untouched down the sideline for the final 30 yards on the 38-yard play.
Platt, who had 114 yards receiving, was 5 yards behind Ashton Lampkin on the sideline after a stutter-and-go route when he caught Russell’s pass in stride and easily outran everyone to the end zone. Russell was 18 of 28 for 387 yards with an interception.
“I probably haven’t opened up like that since high school,” Platt said.
A week after throwing for a national season-high 540 yards to beat Pittsburgh in another weather-delayed game for the Cowboys, Mason Rudolph was 27 of 45 for 279 yards with an interception.
It was the first loss in a true road game for Rudolph since his debut as a freshman at Baylor two years ago, a span that included six straight road wins. Baylor is the only Big 12 team the junior hasn’t beaten.
“I think (Gundy) was not happy with our ball security and just kind of mishandling the ball a few times,” Rudolph said. “It’s reasonable for him to be upset, and we’ve got to correct it.”
Baylor: The Bears figure to move up since No. 8 Michigan State and 12th-ranked Georgia lost in blowouts, while the three teams immediately behind them in the rankings (Arkansas, LSU and Florida) also lost.
Oklahoma State: Who knows what would have happened if the Cowboys hadn’t fumbled inside the Baylor 5 on what looked to be a go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter. Add that to the what-if list that started with a disputed loss when officials mistakenly allowed an untimed down for Central Michigan’s winning score.
Baylor: The Bears have been something of an afterthought in the Big 12 race since a tumultuous offseason marked by allegations of mishandled sexual assault cases that led to the dismissal of two-time league champion coach Art Briles along with school President Ken Starr and athletic director Ian McCaw. But the Bears are the only 4-0 team, and the only other unbeaten team is West Virginia (3-0).
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys host No. 21 Texas next week. The Longhorns were off this week.
Baylor: The Bears have their two easiest Big 12 games on paper at Iowa State next week and then Oct. 15 at home against Kansas. There are two byes in the mix as well before a visit to the Longhorns on Oct. 29.
Online: The AP’s college football page, http://collegefootball.ap.org