Oklahoma vs. Baylor: One Stat That Stands Out

Oklahoma vs. Baylor on Saturday has all the trappings of a good, old Big 12-style offensive shootout with very little, if any defense.

Oct 1, 2016; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) hands off to 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

Typically under these circumstances, the team that has the ball last – or, better yet, gets two or more stops on defense – is in the best position to win the game.

One thing you can count on from the matchup between the Sooners and Baylor this weekend is plenty of offense. If you are a fan of offensive firepower, you should be in seventh heaven; if, on the other hand, you are a fan who appreciates tough defensive stands, you are likely to be very disturbed at what you see.

Both Oklahoma and Baylor have offenses with big-play capability that can strike quickly, led by quarterbacks that like to fling the ball around the yard a lot. Be that as it may, the game between No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 25 Baylor will be decided on the ground. The team that runs the ball the best and, conversely, is able to shut down the other team’s running game will win the day, and most likely by two or more scores.

Baylor leads the Big 12 and is sixth in the nation in rushing offense. The Bears are gashing opponents to the tune of 278.5 rushing yards per game. Baylor has two accomplished running backs – Terrance Williams and Shock Linwood – who have amassed more than 600 yards in eight games and average close to six yards per carry, and a third, quarterback Seth Russell, who has over 500 yards rushing this season.

Despite the troubles Oklahoma has had in pass defense (122nd in the country), the Sooners have been solid against the run. The Sooners are allowing just 123.6 yards on the ground this season, which ranks 25th in the nation.

That’s one matchup to watch – the Baylor running game vs. Oklahoma’s rushing defense. The other is Baylor’s ability to contain the Sooners’ powerful rushing attack, led by Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, two of the most dynamic running back combinations in college football.

The OU run game (215 yards per game) ranks 32nd in the nation. The Bears are 101st in the country against the run (205.6 yards per game). In the past two games alone, Baylor has given up 250 rushing yards to D’Onta Foreman of Texas and a total of 431 on the ground in a blowout loss to TCU, including 192 by the Horned Frogs’ Kyle Hicks, nearly double his season best. The Bears lost both games.

By contrast, the Sooners held Texas’ Foreman to 159 yards on the ground and Hicks to 61 yards rushing in a pair of Oklahoma victories earlier in the season.

Oklahoma has rushed for greater than 250 yards in four of its six Big 12 wins this season. The Sooners are 5-0 this season when they gain more than 200 yards rushing and are 80-2 under head coach Bob Stoops when they hit the 200-yard mark on the ground.

This could well be the telling measure on Saturday.

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