Sept. 2, 2012
WACO, Texas (AP) -- Nick Florence threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns, Mike Hicks returned a fumble for a score and Baylor beat SMU 59-24 on Sunday night in the opener for both teams.
Florence, taking over for departed Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, led the Bears to touchdowns on their first two drives. He finished 21 of 30, and didn't play in the fourth quarter.
Hicks returned a fumble 66 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter.
The Bears intercepted two of Gilbert's passes and held the Mustangs without a touchdown until late in the third quarter.
Florence threw first-half touchdown passes to Lanear Sampson, Jordan Najvar and Tevin Reese, and hooked up with Sampson on a 36-yard scoring pass that put the Bears on top 45-3 in the third before Bryce Petty took over at quarterback.
Terrance Williams had 138 yards receiving, and Jarred Salubi and Glasco Martin each rushed for a TD.
In last season's opener, Baylor blew a 24-point lead before beating TCU 50-48 on a late field goal. The Bears didn't need any late drama this time.
SMU's Darius Johnson couldn't handle Gilbert's pass at the goal line and the ball bounced high in the air. Hicks twice tipped the ball before Lackey intercepted it and returned it 23 yards.
Three plays later, Florence hit a streaking Reese for a 50-yard TD pass that extended Baylor's lead to 21-3 with 2:02 left in the first half.
On the opening drive of the third quarter, Johnson caught a short pass and lost the ball just before hitting the ground. Hicks picked up the loose ball and ran 66 yards for a touchdown.
Baylor has won seven in a row. Only TCU at eight, has a longer streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
The Bears matched a school-record last season with 10 wins, a mark that was first set during star linebacker Mike Singletary's senior season in 1980. Griffin, now with the Washington Redskins, capped his career by leading Baylor to its first bowl victory in 19 years.
Baylor's offense figured to take a step back without Griffin and four other offensive players from last year's squad taken in the NFL draft.
At least in the opener, the Bears' fast-paced offense didn't miss a beat in the first quarter.
Florence was 4 for 4 on Baylor's opening possession, which was aided by four SMU penalties. He capped the drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Sampson.
The senior dropped in a 32-yard pass to Levi Norwood to set up a 5-yard scoring toss to Najvar.
Gilbert was a highly touted recruit from Austin who played in the 2009 BCS title game before his career fizzled with the Longhorns. In his first start with SMU, Gilbert had three passes swatted down at the line and struggled to find receivers down the field.
Gilbert connected on five straight attempts, leading to Chase Hover's 22-yard field goal in the second quarter. The junior threw scoring passes to Der'rikk Thompson and Jeremy Johnson in the second half.
SMU returns home for its home opener next Saturday, Sept. 8 against Stephen F. Austin. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. and tickets can be purchase online at smumustangs.com/tickets or by calling 214-SMU-GAME.