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.
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.
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:
Expecting record crowd at The Case for @BUFootball vs. OU. Wear black, arrive early and cheer loud! #everyoneinblack— Ian_McCaw (@bu_ad1) November 4, 2013
- 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?