BearsIllustrated spoke with Brandon Drumm, The Football Braniacs, to learn more about the Sooners. The Bears welcome College Gameday to the Baylor campus, Saturday morning, in anticipation of their showdown with #12 Oklahoma at 7 PM, inside McLane Stadium.
1. Since the Texas loss, OU has seemed to get more physical and are playing much more mean and aggressive. What was the message from Stoops after that game, and what do you attribute the great success to?
Stoops has been notorious for coming back, after a Texas loss, and gathering the troops for a late season push. Look at 2006 and 2008 as examples. Both seasons the Sooners lost to Texas and came back to win the Big 12. In 2013 they beat everyone, but Baylor and closed out the season with a convincing win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. All that said, all those teams had vocal leaders. Stoops is an excellent motivator, but it sure does help when you have your team leaders pushing his point. I think Stoops told them that if you win out, you have just as good a shot as anyone to make the playoffs. Tough sledding ahead for OU, especially with Baylor in Waco.
2. Baylor has won 3 of 4 over OU, after losing over 30 straight. A couple of players have said that they owe Baylor a loss for those previous losses. Do you think that OU feels that the pressure is on them to win this game?
I think both teams feel the pressure. Oklahoma is the only team in the Big 12 that can make the playoffs with one loss. They are in the win or out group. A lot like Baylor. OU has the saving grace of a playing a strong SOS up to this point. Baylor doesn’t have that liberty, but they win and they’re in the playoffs. Stakes are high in this one. If you don’t feel the pressure, on either sir, you have no pulse. This game is going to have the hype train in full effect.
3. Baker Mayfield has been tremendous over the past few weeks. What do you attribute that success to, and what have you seen in him that has helped him lead this potent offense?
Mayfield is a gamer. You can’t teach that in a player. So, I think him being a gamer and a great leader is a lot of what has gotten OU on this roll after that head scratcher against Texas. You can also attribute a lot of his success with Riley and the offense expanding their sets and just finding comfort with one another. It’s his first year on the job and the staff has had to do some tinkering with offensive line to get the run game going with Perine and Mixon. Those two coming on, along with the very young offensive line maturing, has really made things a lot easier for Mayfield. The question is, will the line hold up against the talented Baylor defensive line? That is storyline with Oklahoma offense and Baylor defense. Will Oklahoma be able to run the ball and will Baylor defensive line stop the run? A lot about each team will be answered on Saturday night.
4. OU has begun to utilize Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine more and more. With two explosive backs, what took so long for Licoln Riley to begin to focus on their running game first?
I think they were trying to figure out how they were going to keep both players happy without ruining the schematics of their offense. After Texas the game OU really worked on getting Perine and Mixon involved early and having them on the field at the same time. Both are big backs that can block and they really complement each other, skill wise, on the field. What makes it so difficult to adjust to is the versatility of Mixon. You can have him in the backfield and motion him out wide. He creates a massive mismatch on opposing teams. He runs routes like a wide receiver, has unreal hands and is as big as a lot of tight ends. Baylor covers the pass well, so it will essential that OU get those two involved early. Perine isn’t a real quick starter,but he is such a bruiser that come the 4th quarter he racks up a bunch of yards because teams are just tired of him pounding on him by that point.
5. With several playmakers on defense, how do you see OU attacking Jarrett Stidham and this Baylor offense?
THIS is the million dollar question. Do you sell out to stop Shock Linwood? Do you bracket Coleman and leave KD Cannon one on one with the corner? How often do you blitz? Run cover zero and get physical at the line? All of those questions is something Mike Stoops and the defensive staff at OU are going to have to figure out. As of late, they haven’t been successful. This, however, is their most complete defense in years and new defensive back coach Kerry Cooks has his secondary playing at very high level. Oklahoma, I believe, is 16th in pass defense. They were ranked over 100 this time last season. Quite the turn around, if you ask me. The thing is, I haven’t seen anyone stop Baylor is years. Oklahoma will try and slow them down and make it a game that has a couple of punts. That’s what you have to do with Baylor to stay in it and that’s what I believe OU’s goal is come Saturday.
6. This game will likely be one of the better games in the Big 12, this year. What does OU have to do to pull out the win, against a team that plays much, much better at home, and how do you see this game playing out?
For Baylor to win: Stop Perine and Mixon and make Oklahoma one dimensional on offense. Mayfield is going to get his yard and touchdowns. It’s about slowing down OU’s two-headed monster in the run game. If Oklahoma can control the ball some with those two, it keeps Baylor’s offense off the field. Something OU has struggled with the past two years.
For OU to win: Run the ball, limit turnovers, pressure Stidham and make Baylor punt the ball a couple of times. That last one is funny, I know. But when I watch Baylor and see them punt I always think that is odd. It doesn’t happen often. So, every punt is a major victory against them. If Oklahoma can keep Stidham out of rhythm and make him play like a freshman, they have a chance to pull the upset.
How I see it playing out: This game has so many variables in it. How will Stidham play in his first game against one of the top statistical defenses in the country? How will OU stop them? I am fence riding here, but this game is so close to call for me. If I am forced to pick, I’d go with Baylor at home by 3. So, 38-35 Baylor. Both teams show some defense and prove that they are two of the most well rounded teams in the country.