Let’s look at just one more thing.
This is OU’s last stand for 2014
When the Big 12 schedule was released, everybody circled Nov. 8. That was the date of the biggest conference game of the season.
This game between OU and Baylor would serve as a de facto playoff game with the winner earning a seat in the first four-team college football playoff.
The Sooners and Bears, meanwhile, are the undercard. OU, ranked No. 16 in both polls, has one more chance to make a national impression against Baylor, ranked No. 10 in both polls.
OU has one win over a ranked opponent although the win at West Virginia at the time wasn’t when the Mountaineers were in the top 25.
As the competition has stepped up, the Sooners have stepped down. OU was No. 4 when it lost to No. 25 TCU in the first week of October. A chance to make a statement but denied in its efforts.
Try No. 2 came two weeks ago when the Sooners, then ranked No. 11, hosted No. 14 Kansas State. Another close, competitive loss. So close but so far for the second time.
Is the third time the charm? It’s going to have to be for this season to have any real relevance down the stretch. It’s a monster weekend in college football as there are six games featuring ranked teams. All of them are in the top 20.
The Sooners and Bears kick it all off at 11 a.m. in what is set to be another monster recruiting weekend for Bob Stoops and company.
For all the progress Baylor has made under Art Briles, the Bears haven’t had success in Norman. Not even a little bit. OU is undefeated at Owen Field against Baylor and is 22-2 overall although the Bears have won two of the last three.
Last year’s loss was the low point of OU’s season. A 41-12 loss that didn’t even feel that competitive. It’s something OU players and coaches certainly haven’t forgotten.
But it’s clear this moment means a lot to the Bears as well. In a bizarre postgame interview, quarterback Bryce Petty mentioned being ready for OU in every single question after the win against Kansas.
Criticized for its weak non-conference schedule, Baylor needs this win to stay relevant in the college football playoff conversation. The win against TCU is huge, but already with the loss to the Mountaineers, it’s now or never.
Originally supposed to be a de facto playoff game, it now serves as an elimination game. The loser is out the picture. The winner isn’t necessarily in by any means, but a victory here could be a springboard toward another strong finish by Stoops’ troops on the field and on the recruiting trail.
For the second consecutive season, OU didn’t earn a commitment in October. The Sooners, who were riding high on the trail in September, have seen some of that momentum evaporate. This weekend already has seven confirmed official visitors with more likely to come in the upcoming days.
The stakes couldn’t be higher for the Sooners, and their last stand could be this weekend.