Norman, OK (SportsNetwork.com) – The 10th-ranked Baylor Bears need to win out
and get some help along the way if they have any shot of successfully
defending their Big 12 Conference crown.
Claiming victory in each of their remaining four games won’t be easy for the
Bears, and first up is this Saturday’s trip to Norman for a clash with No. 16
Baylor comes in sporting a 7-1 record, but that one loss came in league action
at West Virginia (41-27) on Oct. 18. The team had a bye following the setback
and returned to the field last weekend versus Kansas, manhandling the visiting
Jayhawks in a 60-14 final. It was the 14th straight home triumph (school
record) for coach Art Briles’ club.
As for Oklahoma, it began the season at 4-0, but losses in two of its last
four games currently has Bob Stoops’ club sitting at 6-2 overall and 3-2 in
conference. The Sooners’ two setbacks have come against Big 12 front-runners
TCU (37-33) and Kansas State (31-30), and they will do what they can to
improve their postseason destination by winning as many of their four
remaining games as possible.
Oklahoma has dominated the series with Baylor, winning 21 of the 23 previous
meetings. But the Bears claimed victory in the most recent encounter, whipping
the Sooners, 41-12, last November.
With its offensive outburst last Saturday against Kansas, Baylor has now
scored at least 60 points four times this season, raising its scoring average
to a national-best 50.4 ppg. Bryce Petty had another stellar outing, as he
threw for 277 yards and three TDs in helping the Bears amass 669 yards of
total offense, compared to only 304 for the Jayhawks. Corey Coleman turned his
three catches into a career-high 167 yards and two scores, while Devin Chafin
paced the ground attack with 112 yards and two scores of his own. Running back
Shock Linwood tacked on 81 yards and a TD for Baylor, which scored on 11
consecutive possessions, and improved its record in home games since 2011 to
an astounding 23-1.
Kicker Chris Callahan booted through four field goals, but none longer than 37
yards, as BU came away with points on 9-of-10 trips to the red zone.
Defensively, the Bears came to play last weekend as well, doing a particularly
good job stopping the run (16 net yards). Kansas did finish with 288 passing
yards, but lost three fumbles and only reached the Baylor 20-yard line twice.
Bryce Hager continues his assault on opposing ball carriers, as he logged a
team-high eight tackles, six of which were unassisted. K.J. Smith was credited
with a pair of sacks to go a with two forced fumbles.
Briles liked the way his team responded after the loss to West Virginia.
“I thought we played well; I liked our attitude and that was a thing we kind
of worked on the last two weeks — was just controlling us and earning respect
for us. It wasn’t about anybody else or anything else. It was about how we
prepared and how we played. And we gave the effort that it really takes to be
a dynamic football team. So, I thought we came out and played with a lot of
passion, a lot of effort and a lot of energy.
For the season, Baylor is churning out an FBS-best 590.3 ypg, with Petty
throwing for 290.6 ypg, 20 TDs and only three INTs, while Linwood spearheads
the rushing attack (241.2 ypg) with 777 yards and 10 scores. KD Cannon is the
team’s top receiver with 36 grabs for 714 yards, and his six TDs are only one
off the pace set by Corey Coleman (29 rec., 572 yards).
Hager is clearly the team’s most productive defensive player, as his 63
tackles are 14 more than his closest teammate. Shawn Oakman recorded a sack
last week to up his team-lead in that department to 6.0, while Orion Stewart
and Xavien Howard have three INTs apiece.
Oklahoma too put forth an outstanding offensive effort in last week’s 59-14
triumph at Iowa State, as quarterback Trevor Knight threw for three TDs and
ran for three more. Knight, who threw two picks and finished with 230 yards
through the air and a career-high 146 on the ground, guided the Sooners to 751
yards of total offense, despite losing star WR Sterling Shepard early with a
leg injury. OU churned out a whopping 510 yards on the ground, as RBs Alex
Ross (144 yards) and Samaje Perine (110 yards, TD) also got in on the act.
Michiah Quick led the receiving corps with eight grabs, turning them into 56
When the Cyclones had the ball, which they did for only 23:23, it was tough
sledding as they tallied just 334 yards, of which a meager 87 came via the
run. Dominique Alexander paced the OU defense with seven tackles, while the
unit as a whole logged seven TFL, two of which belonged to Devante Bond.
Stoops was proud of his team after last week’s shellacking of Iowa State, and
likes where it’s at now as the season winds down.
“We are just hitting that stride, and it’s a good time to hit it. We’re in a
place where we could go up or down. A lot of teams could go down, but we are
For the season, Oklahoma is putting up 41.5 ppg behind typical outputs of
231.8 ypg rushing and 262.9 ypg passing. Knight, who picked up Big 12
Offensive Player of the Week honors for his effort against KU, has completed
59.5 percent of his throws for a little more than 2,000 yards, and he has 12
TDs passes against eight INTs. The loss of Shepard (50 rec., 957 yards, five
TDs), if he is out for any extended period of time, will be difficult to
manage as he is far-and-away the team’s top receiver. As for the rushing
attack, Perine has rumbled his way to team-highs of 767 yards and 11 TDs.
Alexander and Jordan Evans rank one-two on the team’s tackles list with 61 and
60, respectively, while Zack Sanchez continues to lead the Big 12 in INTs with
five. As a unit, the Sooners are yielding 21.8 points and 383.6 yards per
contest, while logging 21 sacks (Erik Striker has 5.0) compared to only the
five they have allowed.