OU-Baylor Not Just Another Game; Plenty Is on the Line


All season long we have been talking about the critical three games that close out the Sooners’ 2015 regular-season schedule. Well, we’re finally there, and the OU-Baylor showdown that will take place on Saturday night in Waco, Texas, is arguably the biggest game of the season, for both teams.

The coaches of both teams will tell you that the most important game of the season is always the next game. That sounds good and may be the politically correct thing to say, but you would have a hard time convincing me, or anyone with a fancy for college football, that these two teams haven’t been priming for this game long before the present.

Baylor is the nation leader in scoring and total offense, averaging 57 points and 666 yards a game. Oklahoma is not far behind offensively, picking up lots of steam in the past three games after suffering a disappointing loss to Texas that no one saw coming. That defeat is the only thing preventing Saturday’s shootout in Waco from being a battle of unbeaten.

Nov 7, 2015; Norman, OK, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back Mike Warren (2) is tackled by Oklahoma Sooners linebacker Dominique Alexander (1) during the first quarter at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Sooners have shown, particularly in the last three games, that they can put up points too, averaging 46 a game, fueled by 549 yards of offense. Both figures rank in the top-six nationally among FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) teams.

The difference maker in this year’s game between these two offensive-minded Big 12 juggernauts will be on the defensive side of the ball. We know that both teams have strong running and passing attacks. The question will be how well Oklahoma’s top-25 defense can stand up to the explosive Baylor offense. If the Sooners are able to shorten the game, like Kansas State did last week against Baylor, and keep the Bears’ offense on the sidelines for extended periods, this contest could get very interesting.

OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops recognizes that this will be a huge test for the improved Sooner defense:

"“Playing Baylor, there’s going to be a lot of stress across the board for everybody – in the run game, the pass game, putting pressure on the quarterback,” Stoops said in postgame comments after the Iowa State game.“We have to find a good game plan…and play well as a team. We’re playing well as a team right now, and that’s what it takes to win.”"

Baylor will have a big advantage playing this game at home, and where that could be of the most help is with freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham, the replacement for injured Bears’ starter Seth Russell, who performed well in the win over K-State but is still a freshman making just his second career start.

Oklahoma should have some added motivation wanting to avenge the total domination by Baylor in the two previous games between these two teams. The Bears have beaten the Sooners by the combined score of 89-26 the last two seasons.

This game is plugged full of interesting story lines an intriguing on-the-field matchups. We will be highlighting them for you and offering comments and a prediction on the game throughout the week, leading right up to game time. Keep up with all of it at StormininNorman.com.