Oklahoma vs. Baylor: Sooners Expect BU to Come Out Growling, Loaded for Bear

As an example of how the Big 12 is devalued by the TV networks this year, the biggest game in the conference this weekend – Oklahoma vs. Baylor – is scheduled for an 11 a.m. kickoff.

Oct 1, 2016; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) celebrates with running back Samaje Perine (32) during the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

In past seasons, this game would have been an afternoon start at a minimum and likely a night game for a primetime television audience.

It would be interesting to know if the scheduled start time of Saturday’s Oklahoma-Baylor contest would have been in a later time slot had the Bears not suffered back-to-back conference losses and were Baylor not mired in a sinkhole of off-the-field issues and negative media fallout.

Never mind all that, though. Saturday’s matchup is a big game for both teams no matter what time it is played. The Sooners (7-2, 6-0) want to remain undefeated and on pace to bring home a 10th Big 12 championship, while Baylor (6-2, 3-2) is looking to get back in the win column after beginning the season with six consecutive wins.

Oklahoma won the game last season between the two schools, 44-34, at Baylor. In the four previous meetings before that, however, Baylor came come out on top in three of the four. Those three Baylor victories are the only ones by the Bears in 25 games all-time with the Sooners.

Head coach Bob Stoops is 14-3 in games with Baylor and 7-1 when the game is played at Oklahoma. Those 14 wins are the most by the Sooner head coach against any opponent.

A couple of weeks ago, when Baylor was one of the remaining unbeaten teams in the nation with an 6-0 record, the Bears were No. 8 in the Associated Press Top-25 poll. Since then, they have dropped all the way down to No. 25. The Sooners, meanwhile, have been slowly working their way back up in the national rankings, settling at No. 9 in the current AP poll.

Baylor comes into Saturday’s game in Norman boasting the nation’s sixth most prolific offense in the land and the Big 12’s best defense. That defense will be severely tested by an Oklahoma offense that ranks third in the country, averaging 558 yards of total offense every time out.

Oct 24, 2015; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops runs onto the field prior to action against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

A win by Oklahoma on Saturday would be the 100th home win in Bob Stoops’ 18 seasons as the Sooners’ head coach. Entering the game, OU is 99-9 at home under Stoops.

Three Things to Know About Oklahoma

  • The Sooners are going after their 14th consecutive win against a Big 12 opponent. The last time OU lost to a Big 12 team was last season in the Red River Showdown with Texas.
  • In Oklahoma six Big 12 wins this season, senior wide receiver Dede Westbrook has 1,012 receiving yards and 12 touchdown receptions. Nine of his 12 TD catches in the last six games have been 40 yards or longer. Only three receivers in the Football Bowl Subdivision have more touchdown catches in the entire season than Westbrook has in his last six games.
  • Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine are both expected to be back on the field for Saturday’s game. Mixon missed the game at Iowa State with a suspension; Perine has been out the last three games after pulling a hamstring muscle in the game with Kansas State. The two running backs have accounted for 1,288 of the Sooners’ 1,940 total rushing yards this season.

Three Things to Know About Baylor

Three Keys to the Game

  • Can the Baylor defense, No. 1 in the Big 12, slow down and get third-down stops on Oklahoma, the second most explosive offense in the Big 12 and third best in the nation?
  • Which quarterback (OU’s Baker Mayfield or Seth Russell of Baylor) will have the better day on Saturday? Mayfield is among the top two or three in the nation in several passing categories, and if he is able to find his favorite target, Dede Westbrook, early and often on Saturday, Baylor will have a difficult day defensively and on the scoreboard against the Sooners.
  • Baylor has given up the fewest number of quarterback sacks in the Big 12. Oklahoma needs, No. 1, to limit the Baylor running game and, No. 2, get pressure on Bears’ quarterback Seth Russell and not allow him to get comfortable and in a rhythm with time to survey the field and find open receivers.
Game prediction
The two teams appear to be headed in opposite directions. Baylor may be down on itself after being embarrassed at home last weekend and after allowing Texas to steal a game from them a week earlier. The Sooners need to punch hard and fast and take early command of the game on Saturday and perhaps catch Baylor still a little groggy from the early start.
The last time Baylor played in Norman, the outcome wasn’t very pretty. Several current Sooner players were around for that game, including Baker Mayfield, who wasn’t activated but was on the Sooner sidelines to witness the damage, and will be seeking redemption, as well as a second straight win over the struggling Bears.
The Sooners win this game and remain undefeated in Big 12 action. Oklahoma 41, Baylor 27

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