Tomorrow’s game against the Baylor Bears shapes up to be an easy Oklahoma win but as is always in the Big XII, nothing is a given and OU will have to come out and play solid on both sides of the ball to ensure victory.
Once again, OU will be paced by the Sooners all-time leading passer in QB Landry Jones. This year, Jones sits in 4th place in the conference in total offense as he has amassed 2,327 yards on the year (290.9 yards per game) and has OU second in the league in scoring averaging 42 points per game.
“Landry is just playing at a high level right now and he is seeing the entire field better which allows him to utilize all of his receivers and backs coming out of the backfield,” said OU Offensive Coordinator Josh Heupel.
With junior tailback Damien Williams (611 yards and 7 TD’s) still hobbled by an ankle injury, look for junior running back Brennan Clay (379 yards, 4 TD’s) to get the start once again as he has been very productive this year. Last week against a tough Iowa State rush defense, Clay went off for 159 yards and a touchdown (6.5 ypc) and also excelled once again on special teams by returning 2 kickoffs for 54 yards (long of 30 yards). Senior Dom Whaley (243 yards, 1 TD) will back him up and look to finish out the year strong by putting up some numbers against a porous Baylor rush defense.
The Bears rank 9th in conference allowing 214.4 ypg and 14 rushing TD’s on the year and are last in turnover margin. Led by sophomore linebacker Bryce Hagar (73 total tackles, 37 solo), Baylor will have its hands full once again trying to slow down OU’s rushing attack. Former OU commit and now Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon (73 tackles, 43 solo) seems like he has been at Baylor forever and is still only a junior but is one of the Bears best players on both sides of the ball. Just as in OU’s defense where safety Tony Jefferson leads the team in tackles, Baylor counts heavily on Dixon to both stop the run and assist in pass coverage. A pair of junior defensive ends both have 3 sacks a piece in Terrance Lloyd and Chris McAllister for Baylor. They can be disruptive but are inconsistent. Oklahoma must contain both of them and get good seal blocks or it could be a long day trying to run the ball and Landry could see some unwanted pressure.
Oklahoma boasts one of the best receiving corps in the nation and will once again have great success through the air this week against a Baylor pass defense giving up 333 yards per game (18 TD’s). Led by cornerback Joe Williams (9 breakups on the year), Baylor will look to try and contain OU’s deep and talented receiving corps.
Both Kenny Stills and Justin Brown anchor a set of wideouts that are poised to set some overall receiving records before the year is complete. Stills leads all receivers with 649 yards on 51 grabs with 6 TD’s. Brown is not far behind with 454 yards on 35 catches and 3 TD’s but it’s the emergence of slot receivers Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard that has allowed the outside game to open up. Shep has 344 yards and 3 touchdowns on the year but it’s his yards per catch that has the coaches smiling from ear-to-ear at 13.8 ypc. Saunders isn’t far behind with 24 grabs, 323 yards and he too has an excellent ypc average (13.5).
The Sooners have been known to throw to seven or eight different receivers during a game and that is what makes it so hard for opposing defenses to cover all of OU’s many weapons. All of OU’s tailbacks can catch the ball out of the backfield and the “X-Factor” Trey Millard has been successful at totting the rock and catching it (129 yards-rushing, 235 yards receiving [2 TD’s]).
Look for Landry Jones and co. to come out firing and open up the defense with the passing game. Yes, the Sooners number one priority is to always establish the run but with a bad Baylor pass defense, OU will exploit it with numerous passes to open the game. The run game will wear down the Baylor defense in time and OU will pick up most of its rushing yards in the second half and the Sooners will cruise in this one avenging last year’s loss.
Sooners – 51 Bears - 24