STILLWATER — Without its emotional leader and starting right defensive end, it took the Oklahoma State defensive line a little while to get pressure on Baylor’s quarterback.

But when it did, the Cowboys (6-4, 3-3 in Big 12) managed to pull away and all but end a 66-24 win over the Bears (4-7, 3-4) at halftime.

And when the game ended, OSU defensive coordinator Vance Bedford lost his hair.

On Thursday, he told his defense if the Cowboys won by 18 or more points, the players could shave his head, and they wasted no time, as assistant strength and conditioning coach Trumain Carroll cut him bald in the locker room shortly after the game ended.

“I’m too old to have my head shaved,” said Vance Bedford, whose only remaining hair on his head was his mustache 20 minutes after the game. “My hair might not grow back.

“They tried to give me a mohawk and everything else. That’s out of the question. I was about ready to fight one of them cats.”

The outcome, he said, however, was worth it.

Leading 17-3 in the latter half of the second quarter, OSU got to backup quarterback Blake Szymanski for the first time.

Defensive end Nathan Peterson sacked Szymanski from the blind side, forcing a fumble that was recovered by defensive end Marque Fountain at the Baylor 38-yard line.

Two plays later, Cowboys running back Keith Toston ran 27 yards to the end zone to make it 24-3.

“He didn’t see me coming, and I felt the ball come loose,” Peterson said. “It created great momentum for our offense.

“It kind of created a domino effect with turnovers. It seemed like the more we got, the more excited we were, and the better we were playing.”

On Baylor’s ensuing drive, OSU defensive tackle Ryan McBean sacked Szymanski for a 12-yard loss on a first down, eventually forcing a punt that began an eight-play, 54-yard touchdown drive for the Cowboys.

OSU led 31-3, cruised to a 38-3 halftime lead after an interception by Martel Van Zant, and scored two defensive touchdowns to start the third for a 52-3 advantage.

“We thought our front four had a good chance of getting after these guys,” Bedford said. “They made the quarterback throw the ball early and often and gave us a chance in the secondary.”

Senior defensive end Victor DeGrate sat out the game with an injury and is uncertain for next Saturday’s game.

“The best pass rusher and probably our best player on defense is Victor DeGrate,” said OSU head coach Mike Gundy. “When you lose a guy like that, it can be difficult to overcome that if you don’t have strong leadership.”

Fortunately for the Cowboys, they got just that Saturday.

The defensive line still played a big factor in getting the Cowboys the win that made them bowl eligible for the fourth time in five years.

Defensive tackle Darnell Smith made the most unexpected play of the game in the third quarter.

While rushing Szymanski, he leaped to stop a screen pass, grasped it between his hands and rumbled 23 yards for the touchdown.

“This is definitely one of the most fun games I’ve played in because I scored a touchdown,” Smith said. “It was good to see a lot of positive things happening on the field.”

On Baylor’s next drive, Cowboys safety Donovan Woods scooped up a fumble and sprinted 57 yards to make it 52-3.

The Cowboys forced six Baylor turnovers — the most since a Nov. 18, 2000, matchup with Baylor — Saturday and held the Bears to 93 yards rushing, most of which came in the second half with reserves on the field and the game well in hand.

Filling in for injured starting quarterback Shawn Bell, Szymanski completed 24 of 41 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns but also threw three interceptions and lost a fumble. Szymanski had 97 of his passing yards in the fourth quarter.

The OSU defense had five tackles for losses, two sacks and forced two of four Baylor fumbles, recovering one.

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