Oklahoma-Baylor has developed into an intriguing Big 12 rivalry ever since that November night in 2011 when quarterback Robert Griffin III clinched a Heisman Trophy in the Bears’ wild upset of the Sooners. Since then, BU used two OU beatdowns to help propel the program to back-to-back conference titles.
OU ended Baylor’s run at the top last year, and an offseason of scandal has choked off whatever momentum the Bears once enjoyed.
Coupled with a sideshow of support for deposed head coach Art Briles, the thumping Baylor received last week from TCU raised questions as to whether or not the team and its coaching staff have checked out on the season. If they have, Saturday’s visit with the Sooners could get ugly.
Baylor at Oklahoma
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 12 at 12 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ABC/ESPN2
Spread: Oklahoma -16
1. No Shock for Baylor
The Bears will be without their all-time leading rusher on Saturday because he has a bad attitude, according to interim head coach Jim Grobe.
The headline effect of Shock Linwood’s suspension for the game probably outweighs its actual significance, though. He has two capable running backs sitting behind him on the depth chart in sophomore Terence Williams and freshman JaMychal Hasty.
If Baylor can’t move the ball on the ground Saturday, it will likely have much more to do with OU’s sound run defense than with Linwood’s absence.
2. Going Deep
Baylor doesn’t have the same quality offense as the teams that helped raise the program to the top of the Big 12, but the pieces are still there to give OU’s often beleaguered secondary fits down the field. Lanky wide receiver Ishmael Zamora, who worked over the defensive backs of both Oklahoma State and TCU, is averaging nearly 16 yards per catch this season. Meanwhile, despite struggling with injuries this season, fellow wideout KD Cannon can still roll up yardage in bunches.
3. How Healthy is Samaje Perine?
OU gets both Perine and Joe Mixon back at running back this week to face a defense that has given up more than six yards per rushing attempt in the last two weeks against Texas and TCU. Even Oklahoma State and Rice, teams with subpar running games, found plenty of success on the ground against the Bears.
Mixon’s services would be enough to give the Baylor D nightmares, but if Perine is 100 percent, it’s hard to imagine the Bears stopping both.
Before the season started, Baylor looked like a strong candidate to see its season fly off the rails at some point. Last week’s woodshedding from the Horned Frogs hinted that some point is now.
The smart money says there is more where that came from this week. Baylor’s coaches have admitted to being distracted by all the controversy around Art Briles’ dismissal, which doesn’t bode well when facing a team gunning for a conference title and clinging to remote hopes of a bid to the College Football Playoff.
Maybe the Bears have enough left in the tank for one last burst down the stretch. They certainly have the weapons to put points on the board against Oklahoma’s forgiving defense.
In the end, however, it will probably require some bad mistakes on the part of the Sooners to keep them from pulling away in this game in the second half.
Prediction: Oklahoma 48, Baylor 28
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.