Each week Sooners Illustrated will set the stage for every game of Oklahoma’s 2016 season. This time around OU welcomes struggling Baylor back to Norman.
Baylor (6-2, 3-2) at No. 11 OU (7-2, 6-0)
When: 11 a.m. CST
TV: ABC (for Big 12 region)
Przybylo’s final thought
You could say Oklahoma has taken the road less traveled in the 2016 season. After entering the year as the runaway favorite from the Big 12 to make the college football playoff, the Sooners stumbled out of the gate at 1-2.
Then nobody cared about Bob Stoops and company for seven straight weeks. And all OU did was go 6-0 and find itself in the top 10 once again.
The Sooners have turned the corner? Or is OU simply unable to handle success? Find out a bit more Saturday against Baylor. As OU continues to get healthy, it’s a credit to the players and staff they’ve made it this far.
“We’ve been resilient,” Stoops said. “I still think there’s more. I think that’s fair to say. Hopefully, to finish the season we can be stronger and better and more consistent. I think we can keep improving.
“But we’ve been a resilient, tough-minded team to have handled what we have to this point. But to win this week, we need to be better. Hopefully our guys can practice and work this week with some guys back, and a little more polished on our part, be a little better.”
OU was a top five team back in September before losses to Houston and Ohio State had the Sooners momentarily left out of the top 25.
Nobody cares to admit it now, but the sentiment was OU was more likely to be 1-4 after five games than 3-2 with beginning Big 12 play against TCU and Texas.
You can say what you want about the Big 12 and whether you believe any champion from the conference is worth anything, but the Sooners have persevered to at least put themselves back in the picture.
“I wouldn’t say we hung our heads or anything like that,” junior safety Steven Parker said. “We believe we played two pretty good teams and they outplayed us and got the W. All we could keep on doing was keep on getting better each week. Nothing to hang our heads about.
“It’s a long season. All we could do is what we could do. As you can see now, everything is starting to work in our favor. We need to keep on going. That’s the major goal.”
Forgotten. Underdog. Those are roles OU fares pretty well in over the years. Back in the top 10, back in the spotlight, the Sooners have to show they can handle success in a positive way once again.
Player to watch
Looking at safety Steven Parker this time around. Why? Because Parker has been so close to multi-interception games this year and nearly had a pick-six against Iowa State. Eventually he’s going to have to cash in on that opportunity. Without Shock Linwood, it’s going to be a passing feast with Seth Russell. OK, Parker, you get another chance.
Just don’t see it. Nothing to suggest from last two games that Mike Stoops found the secret recipe to turn things around for the defense. No doubt Baker Mayfield and crew are going to pile up points and yards against a dejected Baylor defense. But get ready for a shootout again. Sooners get the win, looking at like oh 51-41.