When most talk about Oklahoma and Baylor the last two years, it’s the Baylor offense vs. the OU defense that gets highlighted.
The Bears have put up 41 and 48 points in the last two years, both blowout victories. On the other side, though, it’s time to look at the OU offense.
The Sooners only put up 12 two years ago in Waco and, believe it or not, OU actually had a 14-3 lead in the first quarter before allowing the final 45 points of the game.
OU head coach Bob Stoops made the changes, hiring Lincoln Riley to run his version of the Air Raid offense. Tough to argue so far with the results as OU is averaging more than 45 points per game and just under 550 yards per contest.
There’s something different to this Baylor game this season as well. It welcomes back OU senior star receiver Sterling Shepard, who essentially hasn’t played in this game the last two years.
Shepard suffered a concussion in the first quarter in 2013 and never played a down in last year’s debacle.
“I got to move on from those,” Shepard said. “It was a pain I had to sit out of those two but looking forward to playing them this year. What better game to have a good one than this one.”
Despite practically missing the final month of last season, Shepard ended up with the best numbers of any receiver. And it wasn’t close. He had 51 catches for 970 yards and five touchdowns before a groin injury limited him down the stretch.
Shepard remembers wanting so badly to play in the game last year. But it was clear after getting out there for warmups there was nothing to be done. He gave it his best effort, just wasn’t going to happen.
This season has been more of the same consistency from Shepard. He’s once again leading the team in receptions (47), yards (826) and touchdowns (7). But this time there is no nagging groin injury that has people wondering if he’ll be out there.
Shepard is healthy and ready to roll.
“It was definitely tough for all of us,” senior wide receiver Durron Neal about Shepard not being there. “Sterling is a key piece to our success in the offense. Not having an explosive guy out there like that can hurt you in a lot of ways. To have him back healthy and fresh, he’s going to be a big help for us.”
Shepard is the leader, for sure, but he’s not alone this year. With guys like Neal and Dede Westbrook and Mark Andrews in the red zone, this offense is better equipped to get in a shootout against the Bears if that’s what the game dictates.
Shepard has one last chance against the Bears, and it’s clear he’s going to do everything he can to make it count.