(1-1) Rank: NR/NR
Waco, Texas. Attendance: 44,856
(2-0) Rank: RV/RV
WACO, Texas (AP) - On the scoreboard, Baylor fans watched a highlight of former Bears quarterback Robert Griffin III winning last season's Heisman Trophy.
On the field below, they saw the Bears struggling as Sam Houston State, a team that wasn't supposed to be able to keep up with their high-powered offense, took a lead into halftime
But by the fourth quarter, new Bears quarterback Nick Florence pulled off the best RG3 impression he could muster, using a 60-yard run to set up the touchdown that helped Baylor pull away late for a 48-23 win that didn't feel comfortable until the final minutes.
Florence passed for 312 yards and three touchdowns, but it was his long run that set up Glasco Martin's 5-yard TD run that put Baylor ahead 31-23 and finally gave the Bears some breathing room in a game they trailed 20-10 at halftime.
The speedy Griffin would have scored himself. Florence got run down by a defensive back, but the drive ended in the touchdown the Bears needed.
"I ran out of gas as you can tell. It happens. We got a touchdown off it, that's all that matters," Florence said.
Terrance Williams had six receptions for 131 yards for touchdowns on a night the Baylor (2-0) offense sputtered for long stretches.
Baylor had a bye week after its season-opening win over SMU and came out flat against the upset-minded Bearkats. Sam Houston State (1-1) played for the FCS championship last season and clearly wasn't intimidated by a Big 12 opponent.
Brian Bell passed for 285 yards for the Bearkats but also had four turnovers. He fumbled to set up a Baylor touchdown in the third quarter, then fell when taking the snap on fourth down at the Baylor one in the fourth, spoiling a chance to take the lead.
"That's our motto this year, 'Finish,' and that's what we've got to do. We've got to come out and start the second half just like we start the first half, with the same intensity," Bell said.
Bell led Sam Houston State on two long touchdown drives in the second quarter. He scored on a 1-yard sneak and his 26-yard TD pass to Tim Flanders stunned the home crowd of 44,856. Bearkats cornerback Dax Swanson intercepted a pass intended for Williams at the goal line at the end of the first half.
The Baylor defense made the play that turned the game around for the Bears early in the third.
Terrance Lloyd sacked Bell, forcing a fumble that was scooped up by Trevor Clemons-Valdez at the Sam Houston State nine. Florence found Jordan Najvar on the next play for an easy touchdown that pulled the Bears within 20-17.
"We had to get a stop. An urgent stop. That's what we did," Baylor defensive back Ahmad Dixon said. "We played down to their level. We were in a fight."
Baylor grabbed the lead at 24-20 when Florence found Williams for their second touchdown connection. The throw split two defenders and Williams tip-toed in the back of the end zone to keep one foot in bounds for a legal catch.
The Bearkats bumbled away a big chance at the start of the fourth quarter. Trey Diller's 55-yard punt return set up the Bearkats inside the Baylor 10. But on fourth down at the Baylor one, Bell tripped and fell coming out of the snap, downing the ball at the Baylor 5-yard line.
"That would have been a big play," Sam Houston State coach Willie Fritz said.
Baylor finally put the game away when Florence rolled to his left, turned up field and got to the sideline on his long run.
Baylor's eight-game win streak is the second longest in the nation.
Baylor coach Art Briles acknowledged his team wasn't sharp, but wasn't about to complain.
"I've been in this thing long enough to know that if you've got more points than they do at the end of the game, you ought to be happy," Briles said.