Florence's Passing Helps Baylor Top Missouri

Baylor 40, Missouri 32

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    WACO, TX - OCTOBER 24: The Baylor Bears during a huddle at Floyd Casey Stadium on October 24, 2009 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

    A record-setting day from a freshman quarterback who began the season as the third stringer helped Baylor win at Missouri for the first time in 36 seasons.

      Nick Florence passed for a school-record 427 yards and three touchdowns and ran for a fourth, spurring a second-half comeback in a 40-32 victory on Saturday.
     
    Baylor had lost 23 straight games when trailing at halftime since erasing an 18-point deficit at Colorado on Oct. 7, 2006, and won at Missouri for the first time in 36 years.
     
    "Nick makes a lot of people believe in him," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "He's a rally guy. People kind of rally around him."
     
    Kendall Wright set career highs with 10 receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns as the Bears (4-5, 1-4) ended a 13-game Big 12 road losing streak, beat Missouri for the first time in eight tries in conference play and produced their first road victory against the Tigers since Sept. 23, 1973.
     
    Baylor, worst in the conference against the run, rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit and held Missouri to 10 yards rushing on 25 carries in the game.
     
    "Start fast, play strong, finish strong -- that's all it comes down to," said wide receiver David Gettis, who had eight catches for 110 yards. "When we play fast tempo and keep the ball, give the defense a break, they get to make plays like they did today."
     
    Danario Alexander had a career-high 13 receptions for 214 yards and two scores for Missouri (5-4, 1-4), which has lost three straight at home for the first time since 2004. Alexander's 84-yard reception in the second quarter, the last 65 yards after bouncing off a tackler, was the Tigers' longest play of the season.
     
    The first two losses in the streak, to No. 2 Texas and Nebraska in a driving rain, were more understandable to Missouri than this one.
     
    "Your guts are torn out," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "You get what you deserve and we didn't deserve to win."
     
    Missouri's Blaine Gabbert passed for the second-highest total in school history, going 30 for 51 for 468 yards and two touchdowns. But he was shut down along with the rest of the Missouri offense in the second half. The Tigers made it to the Baylor 16 in the final minute before running out of downs.
     
    "They did what they thought they'd do," Pinkel said. "I'd like to say they played a whole new offense and defense, but they didn't. We gave up a lot of big plays on defense."
     
    Missouri has been outscored 38-8 in the second half the last two games, although its 33-3 cushion was enough in last week's 36-17 victory at Colorado.
     
    "Usually, I've taken a lot of pride in fixing problems," Pinkel said. "If you don't fix them, you're sitting right where you're at."
     
    Baylor went without a first-half touchdown three straight games before embarrassing Missouri behind Florence, who climbed the depth chart due to injuries. Florence completed 11 of his first 12 passes and finished 32 for 43, and he broke the school record of 412 passing yards set by Blake Szymanski in 2007 against Rice.
     
    "It's a win," Florence said. "Who cares what my stats are? I'll do anything to get a win."
     
    Szymanski started one game after Robert Griffin was lost for the season with a knee injury in late September, and the senior was the backup Saturday after missing two games with a bruised shoulder.
     
    Baylor had gone 26 games without a 300-yard passing game, let alone a 400-yard game. St. Louis Rams rookie offensive tackle Jason Smith, the second overall pick of the draft out of Baylor, took advantage of his team's week off and watched from the sideline.
     
    Baylor scored on its first two drives. The Bears took a 9-7 lead on their first offensive touchdown in 80 minutes and 4 seconds, Florence's 8-yard keeper with 2:13 to go in the first quarter.
     
    Gabbert had 322 yards passing in the first half with both touchdowns coming late to help Missouri take a 27-16 lead. The Tigers led 27-16 at the break after Wes Kemp's 7-yard catch with 1 second to go.