WACO (AP) — Blake Szymanski threw for school-record 412 yards and six touchdowns and the Baylor had a much easier time against this former Southwest Conference rival, winning 42-17 over Rice on Saturday night.
Szymanski already had another record by halftime, when he was the first Baylor quarterback to throw four touchdowns in a half. He had 280 yards when the Bears (1-1) led 28-7. The sophomore finished 29-of-46 passing with no interceptions.
After Szymanski’s last completion converted a fourth down to the Rice 20 with 10:21 left in the game, freshman Tyler Beatty took over at quarterback.
Chase Clement, who was 20-of-25 passing for 207 yards, and James Casey had TD runs for Rice (0-2). Jarret Dillard had five catches for 93 yards but was held out of the end zone for the second straight game after coming into the season with TD catches in 15 straight games.
In the Bears’ 27-0 season-opening loss last week at No. 19 TCU, Szymanski threw for 216 yards with three interceptions. That was his fourth straight loss since replacing injured senior starter Shawn Bell late last season and then winning a four-player battle for the starting job in fall camp.
Against Rice, Szymanski had plenty of time to throw the ball and plenty of open receivers — 12 different players caught passes; five scored touchdowns. Justin Akers, Brad Taylor and Ernest Smith all scored their first Baylor TDs.
Akers had the first two touchdowns, his only catches, though the first had to be confirmed by replay because he was still juggling the ball when he crossed the goal line. Taylor then had a 24-yard TD catch and Brandon Whitaker’s 4-yard score converted a third-and-goal.
At the end of the third quarter, Szymanski threw a 39-yard fade to Smith for a touchdown that made it 42-14 — one play after the pair had just missed connecting on the same route.
Baylor and Rice played for the first time since 1995, the last SWC season, and won’t play again until 2010. Neither has had much to brag about since their last meeting, especially the way this season started.
Clement had all five turnovers (three interceptions, two fumbles) in Rice’s 16-14 loss to lower-division Nicholls State in the coach David Baliff’s debut. Bailiff took over when Todd Graham bolted after a 7-6 season, and the Owls’ only bowl game since they were in the SWC.
Baylor still hasn’t had a winning record since going to the Big 12, but beat Rice for the fourth straight time.
After Casey’s 2-yard run in the third quarter got Rice within 28-14, Szymanski threw his final two TDs less than three minutes apart — a 20-yarder to Thomas White before an interception by Alton Widemon set up Smith’s.