College Football

Oklahoma Takes on Baylor in Critical Big 12 Match up

Oct 30, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Caleb Williams (13) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass during the first quarter against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps no team feels more disrespected by the College Football Playoff Committee than the Oklahoma Sooners. Despite being 9-0, they currently sit at No. 8 in the rankings behind five 1-loss teams. The Sooners have been playing with fire all year, winning multiple close games to keep their perfect record intact. On Saturday, they have the chance to bolster their résumé with a road win over No. 13 ranked Baylor. The Bears have managed to exceed expectations in a big way, and despite a loss to TCU last week, are still in the hunt to play for the Big 12 title, making this a critical game for both teams.

Can Oklahoma Finally Establish Dominance?

The main reason for Oklahoma’s No.8 ranking is their lack of dominance throughout the season. Whether it be a three point win over West Virginia, a six point win over Kansas St, or a last second touchdown over Texas, the Sooners have looked vulnerable too many times this year. The problem was so severe, head coach Lincoln Riley was forced to bench starting quarterback Spencer Rattler in favor of freshman QB Caleb Williams. While Williams has given the offense new life, it is clear the committee still has plenty of questions.

One way to gain respect is to go into Waco and win in convincing fashion. Caleb Williams will need to be a major part of the game plan heading into the top 15 clash, as the Baylor run defense has proven difficult to exploit all year. Junior running back Kennedy Brooks has been a formidable weapon for the Sooners, so if Williams is able to back the Baylor defense off the line, the OU offense can establish a nice balance and keep the Bears guessing. Marvin Mims, who is averaging 23 yards a catch this year, will also need to show up and take the top off the Baylor defense. While it is possible to establish the run game first in this matchup, the path of least resistance is throwing to open up the rushing attack.

Defensively, Oklahoma has been an enigma. One week, they carry the team to a win by holding West Virginia to just 13 points. Two weeks later, they give up 516 yards and 48 points to Texas in a shootout. It is tough to predict which defense will show up on Saturday, but the safe assumption is it will be somewhere in the middle. Baylor is a balanced offense, so there is nothing to really key in on as far as game prep is concerned. OU’s rush defense has been solid, so the main concern should be not getting beat on the occasional deep shots Baylor likes to take. Look for the Sooners to try and keep everything in front of them and try to force a big turnover or two.

Baylor Looks to keep their Big 12 title Dreams Alive

While a playoff berth is all but out of the picture for 7-2 Baylor, they still have an outside shot at the conference title game. if they can win out and have Oklahoma drop one more game after Saturday, they would be in. But it’s one step at a time for Dave Aranda’s squad. First step is securing a win at home against a conference powerhouse. After a heartbreaking loss on a game sealing interception last week against TCU, quarterback Gerry Bohanon will need to have a short memory and a solid game to guide Baylor to victory.

For Baylor’s offense, balance is key. Amazingly, the offensive unit averages 230 rushing yards and 226 passing yards a game. the formula has been running the ball with backs Abram Smith, who has 1,055 rushing yards, and Trestan Ebner, who has 601 yards. mix in Bohanon and his seven rushing touchdowns, and you have a potent rushing attack that is difficult to stop for four quarters. If they can establish the run against the Sooners, it will open up the play action deep ball that can do some serious damage. However, if the Bears become one dimensional, it could become a serious problem for the offense.

On the defensive side of the ball, defensive coordinator Phil Snow has some serious adjustments to make. His group was just burned 461 yards by TCU freshman quarterback Chandler Morris, and now faces another formidable freshman gun slinger in Caleb Williams. Missed tackles were a major issue in last weeks loss, both in the secondary and in the backfield. However, despite the most recent poor performance, Baylor has been able to lean on its run defense, which gives them a chance to make Oklahoma one dimensional. If they can bottle up Brooks, establish a pass rush, and make tackles in the secondary, Baylor has the ability to contain the Sooners explosive offense.

Prediction

All indicators point to this game being a dog fight. Oklahoma has made a habit of living dangerously, while Baylor plays a safe style of football. If this game was in Norman in front of 86,000 fans screaming Boomer Sooner, the edge would go to Oklahoma. But since the Bears need the victory at home, give me the more consistent team to establish the run, play their game, and hand OU their first loss, 38-35.

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  1. Pingback: CFP Top 25 Football Schedule Week 11 - Championship Sports Media

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