First Look: #10 Oklahoma Sooners

This is a real thing. They're not kidding. - Wesley Hitt

#6-ranked Baylor returns to action this Thursday evening on Fox Sports 1 against the dreaded invaders from the north: Oklahoma.

OPPONENT: Oklahoma Sooners (Big 12)
OFFICIAL WEBSITE
: SoonerSports.com / GameCenter
2013 ROSTER, DEPTH CHART
LAST MEETING: 42-34 OU win, ODB Game Hub
LAST GAME (for OU): 38-30 win over then-#10 Texas Tech
SB NATION BLOG: Crimson And Cream Machine
SPREAD: Baylor -14 (opened at BU -7)
TV COVERAGE: Fox Sports 1
BAYLOR FOOTBALL TICKETS: BaylorBears.com/tickets
WEATHER FORECAST: High of 66, low of 39 for Thursday, N wind at 13 mph

SB NATION OKLAHOMA PREVIEW: A Pretty Good Rut is Still a Rut
BAYLORBEARS.COM PREVIEW: Not up yet. Check back.

RGIII's Game-Winning TD to Terrance Williams in 2011

About 2 weeks shy of two years ago, the Robert Griffin III-led Bears welcomed the Sooners to Waco in what would both mark the first game of RGIII's existence and give us possibly the most memorable play in Baylor history. I've reproduced it at right for those that somehow, shockingly don't remember. Since that time, a tremendous amount has changed for both teams. Where OU was once the huge favorite and the Bears the hopeful underdog, now Baylor is the one riding high in the national consciousness and out to prove its legitimacy on a national stage. Where once Oklahoma came in with all the expectations, now Baylor has assumed the mantle of Big 12 favorite and will receive every team's best shot going forward.

Considering where we've come from and what we've endured, it is a challenge I'm sure every Baylor fan relishes. First up in the most important November ever for our program is the #10-ranked Oklahoma Sooners. Their schedule is below.


Sooners Football Schedule

ULM Sat 08/31 W 34 - 0
West Virginia Sat 09/07 W 16 - 7
Tulsa Sat 09/14 W 51 - 20
@ Notre Dame Sat 09/28 W 35 - 21
TCU Sat 10/05 W 20 - 17
@ Texas Sat 10/12 L 20 - 36
@ Kansas Sat 10/19 W 34 - 19
Texas Tech Sat 10/26 W 38 - 30
@ Baylor Thu 11/07 6:30 PM CST
Iowa St. Sat 11/16 TBA
@ Kansas St. Sat 11/23 TBA
@ Oklahoma St. Sat 12/07 TBA

I've heard various people in various places refer to the Sooners as "schizophrenic," meaning, I think, that they believe this Sooners team to be one that has not yet found a consistent identity. I'm not sure that's true. Rather, the Sooners seem to me to be a time that struggles on the whole in stopping the run, has inconsistent QB play almost as a matter of course, and relies on a defense that is relatively strong against the pass to limit opposing drives. If you can run on them, you can beat them, but so far they've only played one team willing and able to do so: the Texas Longhorns. On Thursday night, they will face another.

The common refrain from people on the other side of this discussion is that the Baylor Bears, owner of at worst the second-best offense in the country, haven't played a defense the likes of Oklahoma's yet this season. Depending on which advanced stats you like, that might be true. It might also be false, considering we have played Kansas State, who has a solid, if not spectacular, defense of their own. Before this week's games (the stats haven't yet updated), I could make a pretty solid argument that Kansas State, the same team that we beat in Manhattan 35-25, actually had a better defense than the Sooners.

Still, this is a solid Sooners team that is probably either the second-best or third-best team in the conference, and we should not take them lightly. Though they may not be elite at any one thing, they are good at several.

Statistic National
Rank
Big 12
Rank
Value National Leader Value Big 12
Leader
Value
3rd Down Pct 65 5 0.407 Louisville 0.634 Baylor 0.558
3rd Down Pct Defense 22 4 0.339 Louisville 0.253 Oklahoma St. 0.302
4th Down Pct 57 3 0.500 Florida St. 1.000 Baylor 0.583
4th Down Pct Defense 13 4 0.300 Penn St. 0.000 Baylor 0.167
Blocked Kicks 5 2 3 4 teams tied 4 Kansas St. 4
Blocked Kicks Allowed 82 6 2 46 teams tied 0 5 teams tied 1
Blocked Punts 9 2 1 Georgia Tech 3 Kansas 2
Blocked Punts Allowed 87 5 1 86 teams tied 0 4 teams tied 0
Completion Percentage 62 5 0.599 Louisville 0.733 Baylor 0.677
Fewest Penalties/Game 66 5 5.88 Navy 2.75 Kansas St. 4.63
Fewest Penalty Yards/Game 48 2 45.75 Navy 23.13 Kansas St. 38.75
First Downs Defense 8 2 129 Louisville 102 Baylor 117
First Downs Offense 63 6 178 Texas A&M 262 Texas Tech 260
Fumbles Lost 41 4 5 Florida St. 1 Oklahoma St. 3
Fumbles Recovered 72 9 5 North Texas 15 West Virginia 13
Kickoff Return Defense 78 6 22.13 Vanderbilt 13.92 Oklahoma St. 16.80
Kickoff Returns 13 3 25.14 Stanford 29.44 TCU 26.66
Net Punting 116 10 33.28 Purdue 43.12 West Virginia 40.55
Pass Sacks Allowed 38 4 1.50 Toledo 0.44 Oklahoma St. 0.88
Passes Had Intercepted 29 2 6 4 teams tied 2 Baylor 4
Passes Intercepted 48 5 9 Northwestern 18 TCU 17
Passing Offense 93 9 201.0 Baylor 417.3 Baylor 417.3
Passing Yards Allowed 9 2 179.5 Virginia Tech 150.6 Baylor 177.3
Passing Yards/Completion 75 6 11.82 Baylor 19.60 Baylor 19.60
Punt Return Defense 118 9 17.81 Boise St. -0.38 West Virginia 3.80
Punt Returns 49 7 9.54 Kansas St. 21.71 Kansas St. 21.71
Red Zone Defense 102 10 0.889 Baylor 0.550 Baylor 0.550
Red Zone Offense 60 7 0.838 Florida St. 0.978 Iowa St. 0.955
Rushing Defense 27 3 134.8 Michigan St. 43.4 Oklahoma St. 122.9
Rushing Offense 17 2 234.0 Army 336.6 Baylor 301.1
Scoring Defense 14 2 18.8 Alabama 9.8 Baylor 15.9
Scoring Offense 55 6 31.0 Baylor 63.9 Baylor 63.9
Tackles for Loss Allowed 72 4 6.13 Stanford 3.00 Baylor 4.14
Pass Sacks 78 8 1.75 East Carolina 3.63 Baylor 3.29
Passing Efficiency 55 3 135.93 Baylor 207.12 Baylor 207.12
Passing Efficiency Defense 9 2 104.36 Michigan St. 90.29 Baylor 95.92
Tackles for Loss 98 9 5.1 Clemson 9.4 Baylor 9.1
Time of Possession 19 1 32:33 Florida 35:39 Oklahoma 32:33
Total Defense 10 1 314.3 Michigan St. 210.2 Oklahoma 314.3
Total Offense 50 5 435.0 Baylor 718.4 Baylor 718.4
Turnover Margin 41 5 0.4 Houston 2.5 Oklahoma St. 1.3
Turnovers Gained 63 8 14 Houston 29 West Virginia
TCU
23
23
Turnovers Lost 30 2 11 Bowling Green 5 Baylor 10

The first thing that jumps out at me from the chart above is the Sooners' ranking in the Big 12 in Time of Possession, a stat that normally doesn't mean much to us but obviously does to them. If we accept as given that OU's strategy will be one of Possession Denial, as it absolutely should, that number could become meaningful if our defense allows the OU offense to extend drives and wear down the clock. It's very difficult to score when you don't have the ball, after all.

Sooners fans will probably respond to my dismissal of their defense as elite by pointing to the #10 ranking in "Total Defense" in the chart above. Regular readers of ODB can predict my response: I'm not a huge fan of absolute stats. They don't take into account strength of opponent, nor do they account at all for pace. Also, if you are willing to use that stat as proof that OU's defense is elite, you'd have to realize that our own is only a tiny bit behind it (316 yards per game to your 314.3). That's why it's probably best to avoid that hornet nest altogether.

Without the benefit of updated stats (which we should have tomorrow!) from FootballOutsiders, I'm hesitant to go too far into a statistical discussion of these two teams. Since neither played this weekend, however, we can do a little. From last week's Big 12 post (with links to the individual rankings inside), the Sooners were ranked 29, 29, and 32 according to F/+, S&P+, and FEI, respectively, against our rankings of 5, 2, and 7. Their offense was 26th by FEI and 19th by S&P+ after the strong showing against Texas Tech 10 days ago. Their defense was 24th and 37th by the same measures. They struggle in run defense, as we talked about, posting a S&P+ ranking of 95th in that area, while their pass defense is significantly better at 30th.

Oh, and there's this:

QUESTION TIME:

  • Are you going to the game? Are you wearing black? The answer to both these questions should be "yes."
  • Acknowledging that we don't have a totally updated look at OU's offense yet, what do you think will be our best defensive strategy against Blake Bell? Do you think we'll see Cover 0 like we have frequently to date?
  • If you had to guess as what wrinkle we might see from Briles on offense, if any, what would it be?
  • Visiting Sooners -- what kind of impact do you think the loss of Trey Millard will have on your offense? Also, is your band coming? Do they still just play the same song over and over and over and over again, no matter what happens on the field?

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