The Baylor Bears fell to the Oklahoma Sooners 44-34 Saturday night in a game that saw them beat up on both sides of the ball by a more physical and aggressive Sooners squad. The Bears (8-1, 5-1) had their first big test of the 2015 season and failed. They were punched in the mouth by a team that came into the game wanting to hurt the Bears. From the start, Oklahoma played with an edge, the edge of a team that had been blown out by the Bears two years in a row and wanted payback. Well, the Sooners got it. From late hits after the whistle, to roughing the passer penalties, and even an ejected starting defensive lineman for kicking a Baylor player while he was down, the tone was set by the Sooners. They were going to beat up the Bears, and they did.
Baylor came into the game with the better offensive line on paper, but the Sooners won both battles in the trenches. Their running game hit body blows in the first half, and then made big plays in the second. The Sooners outrushed 286-186 yards, with Samaje Perine leading the way with 166 yards and 2 touchdowns. The star of the game though was Baker Mayfield, who dazzled with his ability to keep plays alive. He had four total touchdowns, 270 yards on 24-31 passes with just 1 interception. He played a near flawless gameand announced himself as a serious contender in the Heisman race.
Stats of the Game
- On Forty 1st down plays, the Sooners ran the ball 31 times
- Baylor ran the ball 16 times on 1st down, and averaged 2.25 yards per carry
- On those 16 rush attempts, they gained 1, 0, or negative yards 7 times (43.75%)
- After the opening possession touchdown drive for Baylor (61 yards rushing) they gained just 98 yards the rest of the game on 38 attempts (2.58 yards per rush)
Words of the Game
Offense - Tentative
With a freshman quarterback making his 2nd career start against a defense that has been playing great football the past month of the season, the Bears tried to lean on their run game Saturday night. It looked like a good idea after the first drive of the game for the Baylor offense, where they gashed the Sooners for 61 yards on the ground and a touchdown. However, the Sooners gained their composure and shut down the Baylor run game, holding them to under 100 yards the rest of the way, and less than 2.5 yards per carry.
Simply put, the Baylor staff looked to be protecting their freshman quarterback (and also injured due to a roughing the passer penalty early in the game). This was not the aggressive, throw it around the field and run it down their throats offense Baylor fans have become accustomed to seeing. This was a safer offense, looking more like what the Bears have shown on the road in tougher environments. Baylor continued to lean on the run game throughout. Star receiver Corey Coleman was limited to just 51 receiving yards and 3 catches, with just 1 coming after halftime. The Bears deep passing game disapeared, as their longest pass of the game was a TE seam pass to Gus Penning that caught the Sooners asleep. There was no vertical pressure down the field against a Sooners secondary that might be one of the most improved units in the nation.
Defense - Worn Out
You might look at the final stats and say that the Bears defense was just destroyed in this game. You would be wrong. They stepped up and did their job in some very difficult situations. With the offense having 7 drives of three plays or fewer (with just one other 3-play drive ending in a touchdown) the Bears offense was stuck in neutral for large chunks of the game. Oklahoma focused on the running game, hitting body blows agains the Baylor defense throughout. The Bears had 11 tackles for loss, forced 1 turnover, and had 7 of 14 drives (not counting final drive of the game). They did have an awful three-drive stretch to end the first half and begin the second, where Oklahoma scored 3 touchdowns to increase their lead to 2 touchdowns.
Was it a perfect game for the defense or even a good one? No, but I think Art Briles would take what his defense gave him most nights. They could have played better, but that was a tired defense in the 4th quarter, that had been pushed hard by a physical Sooner run attack.
Tweets of the Game
Players of the Game
Offense - KD Cannon (5 catches, 77 yards)
This was a tough one to choose, and not for the normal reason of you just can't pick one due to so many players having outstanding games. Who really stood out? Corey Coleman was shut down for just 3 catches and 51 yards. Shock Linwood broke 100 yards rushing, but needed 21 rushes to get there. Devin Chafin had a 3-touchdown game, but had a costly fumble early in the game. Jarrett Stidham had three interceptions. Jay Lee had a touchdown reception, but had a massive drop on an easy touchdown grab.
To me, the only player on offense that did his job, and didn't disapoint was KD Cannon. The sophomore receiver had 5 catches for 77 yards, including some clutch ones late in the game to setup a touchdown. He played with fire and energy, something that the Bears needed more of.
Defense - Travon Blanchard (14 tackles, 3 for loss, 1 interception, 1 sack, 1 quarterback hurry)
Travon Blanchard is developing into a star. The sophomore linebacker is the Bears big play guy. He was all over the field against Oklahoma, making plays in the running game, rushing the passer, and even getting a beautiful interception. Blanchard was a hair away from a game-chaning play on the Sooners last scoring drive, doing everything right on the play, but getting too much of Baker Mayfield's jersey and pads and getting called for a game-changing horse caller penalty. Even with that one play, he was sensational.
Simply put, the Bears do not need to worry about playoff talk this week. It doesn't matter. It is now out of their hands, once again. They lost, and this time at home. No excuses. This was the first top-tier team the Bears played in 2015, and they were beaten, on the score board and physically. Baylor's championship hopes are completely on the backburner, and their Big 12 title hopes aren't in much better shape. The 3-game gauntlet has started, and the Bears lost the one game that they had the benefit of the home crowd. A win over Oklahoma State next week would revive some hopes, but until then, there isn't much reason to worry about rankings and tie-breakers. Baylor has to win out (and get some help, just like in 2013), to win the Big 12 once again.