Baylor takes on Oklahoma

This was suppose to be the biggest game in the Big 12 this weekend, until it wasn’t. With both teams fighting for their Big 12 title hopes, what do the Bears need to do to stay alive?

When the schedules came out for the 2014 season, the entirety of experts and Big 12 media had this game circled first. This was the game that was going to decide the Big 12 championship. The defending champion, still a young sapling in their tenure as a true contender, going on the road to take on the mighty oak looking to get its crown back. The nation rejoiced as this was destined to be THE game.

Alas, it is not. It is a game just down I-35 that will be getting the coveted night-time spot, with the Bears and Sooners destined to kick off before the West Coast has risen from their beds. However, this is not to say that this game does not have major Big 12 and national championship implications. Both teams are alive for a Big 12 championship, though Oklahoma’s might be limited to hoping for chaos and a tie.

A win for either team would push them farther up the College Football Playoff Rankings with the Bears likely inching into the Top-10 with a marquee road win on their ledger. The Sooners are looking to keep their hopes alive yes, but even more than that...avenge a humiliating loss last year in Waco.

MEDIA INFORMATION
Matchup 10/10/13 BAYLOR (7-1, 4-1) vs. 16/16/18 OKLAHOMA (6-2, 3-2)
Date Nov. 8, 2014 | 11:00 a.m. CT
Location Norman, Okla. | Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium (82,112)
TV FOX Sports 1
Radio ESPN Central Texas | Sirius 119 | XM 199
Online Audio Listen Online
Live Stats Gametracker
Gameday Info Gameday Central
Ticket Info Tickets
Game Notes Baylor Notes |Oklahoma Notes
Twitter @BUFootball

Fun Stats of the Game

-This will be the Bears final true road game of the 2014 season

- Baylor is 22-3 in its last 25 games, tied for 2nd-best over that stretch (FSU, 24-1 & Michigan St. 22-3).

-The Sooners are 21-2 all-time vs. the Bears, including a 13-2 mark under Bob Stoops. OU is 11-0 vs. Baylor at Owen Field.

-Oklahoma is 16-3 (.842) vs. AP Top 25 teams at home under Stoops. Baylor is 0-11 on the road vs. AP Top 25 foes under Art Briles.

-Baylor is 9-4 over its last 13 games away from Waco when ranked.

-OU has won 22 straight November homes games

-Baylor's defense is 5th nationally in TFLs per game (8.0) and 12th in sacks (3.38).

-Oklahoma and Baylor are the only two Big 12 teams that haven’t permitted an individual 100-yard rusher in 2014.


Key Matchups

-Baylor Linebackers versus Trevor Knight

Trevor Knight as a quarterback has had an up-and-down season after his statement game in the Sugar Bowl set expectations extremely high. His accuracy and decision making as a passer have lacked consistency and interceptions have continued to hurt him. However, his ability to run the ball and make big plays with his legs has only been held back by the Oklahoma scheme. With a lack of a healthy backup quarterback, the Sooners went away from putting Knight in a position to take too many hits. With Cody Thomas back to full health, the Sooners returned to using Knight as a rushing threat, and he answered with his finest game of the year against Iowa State.

The Bears have struggled against rushing quarterbacks the past few years, and Knight is as good as any that they have seen. Will the Bears adjust their blitzing patterns, or utilize a spy to keep Knight under wraps? Either of those will have a big impact on the linebackers for Baylor, with Bryce Hager, Taylor Young, or even Aiavion Edwards taking on a big role against Knight.

-Baylor Offensive Line versus Oklahoma Defensive Line

Chuka Ndulue, Jordan Phillips and Charles Tapper. That is over 900 pounds of Sooner. Those three gentlemen are the three starting defensive linemen for Oklahoma, and might represent the best group of run stoppers in the Big 12. With their sheer size and brute strength, all three do a great job of holding at the point of attack and keeping the linebackers free to make tackles.

The Bears offensive line will have their hands full, especially if the Sooners follow the West Virginia game plan of blitzing early and often. The Bears ability to get some push on the front-3 and get to the second level of the defense will be key in their run-blocking scheme. How will Bears manufacture rushing lanes against one of the best run defenses in the nation?

Analytical Breakdown

FEI Rank

23

6

F/+ Rank

18

6

S&P+ Rank

16

7

GE Rank

5

9

Sagarin

9

4

Massey

12

10

RealTime RPI

11

16

Team Rankings Rank

6

4

Average

12.50

7.75

The Bears are decidedly the underdog in this matchup, especially with it being on the road. Vegas had this as a -3.5 spread against the Bears, and that has gone more towards the Sooners rising to -5. Baylor is behind the Sooners in all but 2 of the metrics. This is the most difficult opponent according to the rankings at the time of the game for the Bears, but adding in the difficulty of winning in Norman, you could make a case that this is still the Bears most difficult game of the 2014 season.

The Sooners are still looked upon as a Top 10 team, despite their 2-losses. Mind you, those two losses came to two other Top-10 teams and were by a combined 5 points, with Oklahoma having chances to win it late that they just missed out on. Oklahoma is literally a play row two away from being undefeated and probably the #1 team in the nation.

Keys to the Game

1. Keep OU under 40 - The Bears are 0-9 on the road under Art Briles when they have allowed the opposition to score more than 40 points. This year, Oklahoma has failed to score 40 points in 3 games, and they are 1-2. For the Sooners to get to 40 points, that means a lot of scoring drives and ball control. That means finishing drives with touchdowns rather than field goals. All of those are bad things for the Bears, who need to get 3-and-outs and get their offense back on the field. The Bears seem built for a shootout, but that plan of attack has failed to work on the road. They need a balanced team to win, where the defense is giving the Baylor offense the ball back quickly or in great field position.

2. First Down Success - This goes for both sides of the ball. Oklahoma has rushed for 6.56 yards per carry on first down. They run the ball 57% of the time on first down, so the Bears have to keep Oklahoma out of 2nd and short situations. They average almost 9 yards per pass attempt on 1st down. This is an offense built to thrive on 1st down and keep the ball moving down the field. They are jut 70th in 3rd down conversions, mainly due to a 47.8 completion % on 3rd down passes. On 3rd downs and 7-9 yards to go, they are just 8-23 with 5 first downs. On 3rd downs and longer than 10 yards they complete a higher percentage of passes (12-18), and have somehow converted more of those into 1st downs (8).

For the Bears, they are only averaging about 4.5 yards per rush on 1st downs, That is their lowest since 2009, and first year under 5.74 in that time. They averaged 5.87 yards per 1st down carry last year. This has been the biggest issue with the Baylor rushing attack in 2014. The Bears simply have to do a much better job of running the football on first down against Oklahoma.

3. Don’t play to just win, play to destroy - This has been a long time criticism of mine of Coach Briles’ teams. They are a completely different team in terms of attitude at home versus on the road. At home, it is go for the kill and then kill them again. On the road, it is just try to win by 1 point. The Bears are simply not as good of a team when they are not going 100% trying to not only win, but destroy the opposition.

The Bears, starting from the top with Art Briles, need to set THAT mindset. We might have seen the start of that with Bryce Petty’s post-game comments against Kansas. The goals of this year are all on the line, against one of the best teams in the Big 12 in a hostile environment. This is no time to just try and win. This is a chance to make a statement about who the Bears are.


Predictions

Massey Ratings – Oklahoma wins 41-35

RealTime RPI – Oklahoma wins 41-34

TeamRankings.com – Oklahoma wins 38-33

Staff Predictions COMING SOON!


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