- I wanted to start with the BlackOUt, which was beyond amazing. I've never seen the Baylor fanbase buy into anything the same way, not the neon uniforms, the gold helmets, nothing. Baylor Line members aside, probably 9 out of every 10 people I saw at the game (if not more like 95 out of every 100) were wearing black prominently. Most wore the long-sleeve t-shirts sold by the Bookstore and various other outlets. I've talked for some time now about how impressed I've been with Baylor's handling of it through social media and other avenues, always still somewhat wary of the possibility that it could be rejected by portions of the fanbase. It wasn't. And the concerns about the crowd actually looking worse somehow proved totally unfounded. Baylor Nation showed up, wore black, and looked fantastic doing it. There has never been a larger group of Baylor fans unified in one purpose in any one place ever before. I'm fairly confident of that.
- I said this morning that Rashodrick Linwood was my offensive player of the game, and I'm sticking to it. In the absence of Lache Seastrunk for most of the game and with Glasco Martin's injury early in the first quarter, not to mention the startling inability of the passing offense to get on track, we needed someone to carry the load who wasn't Bryce Petty. Petty did a great job, he just couldn't do it himself. Shock stepped up, particularly in the second half, and finished with 23 carries for 182 yards, both career highs. In that second half, he took advantage of an OU defense so worn down in the front seven that they couldn't stop him or keep him from getting to the edge. That's the real strength of this offense. It's not throwing bombs over the top every time down the field or dissecting a team through the air, at least not all the time. More often, it's the offensive line wiping a defense out for 75+ plays a game to the point that they lose their will to resist. OU lost that will in the second half and Linwood ripped them apart. We saw the running game being so successful coming a bit, I believe, we just didn't think it would be Shock doing it. That he did speaks volumes about our depth on offense and the talent Art Briles has been able to amass in Waco.
- And it's good that we were able to run the ball so well, since Petty looked so off early in the game. I'm not sure what it was to start. Some point to nerves, an explanation I'm not sure I totally buy but can't totally dismiss, while others probably think OU's secondary played a tremendous role. Without having seen the game yet on television, I'd venture to say that the lack of penalties I thought should have been called early in the game played into it, as well. But people hate that for obvious reasons and I won't go into it. No matter why, we can agree that Petty was "off" somewhat early in the game and it contributed to a slower start than we would have hoped for. To his credit, he still managed to impact the offense in a tremendously positive way on the ground, an aspect to his game that we had been hoping to see for quite some time. Predictably, success on the ground bred success through the air, and after Petty scored his two TDs on the ground, things opened up. He finished with over 260 yards of total offense and 5 TDs, respectable numbers at the very least. If he's not firmly in the Heisman race with Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel, I'd really like to hear why.
- Of course, the real story of the game to outside observers was the strength of our defense, which held OU to just 237 yards and one touchdown for the entire game. OU had just 5 points in the entire first half, 2 of which were scored by their defense. The other 3 came after the disastrous safety-free kick-big return combination, when the defense held Blake Bell and OU out of the endzone yet again. Ahmad Dixon, despite his inattention on the fourth down play where Baylor stopped the Sooners, played a phenomenal game. Demetri Goodson did the same in looking every bit the shutdown corner we haven't had. His interception over the OU receiver was a thing of absolute beauty, and he probably should have had two. Once Baylor got up 24-5 at halftime, the game was basically over, considering Bell's inability to throw it deep with anything resembling accuracy and the Baylor secondary's willingness to let him try and fail.
- Speaking of the secondary, there was one play that remains quite hotly contested today, and we all know what it is. I don't want to start an argument here about whether K.J. Morton's hit on Sterling Shepard was targeting or not. OU fans probably think it was. Baylor fans disagree. What I will say is that everyone has to realize how ridiculous it is that our system allows for the possibility that you can be penalized when the officials reviewing the play determine you haven't done anything wrong. Even worse, on that particular play, my strong belief is that it should have been determined to be a catch and fumble with a Baylor recovery, regardless what happened after the play concluded with Ahmad Dixon. If it isn't targeting, the ball changed hands. The receiver caught the pass, took two steps, then got hit. The only two plausible outcomes in my mind are that it was targeting, which probably negates the turnover (I don't think that's happened yet anywhere this season) or it isn't and the turnover stands. That they managed to mess that up, on top of the rulebook-mandated implementation of a rule that is, at best, incomprehensibly flawed ... yeesh.
- On that note, I have to admit the upwelling of pride I felt every time a call went against Baylor and the crowd showed their disapproval. Like the reaction or not, that's what big-time crowds do. That's what great crowds do. Of course the home crowd thinks their team got screwed when anything short of an actual crime occurs on the field. That's how being a fan works. And it was fun to be a part of as a Baylor crowd that actually took up for its team in getting after the officials.
- On the injury front, the losses of Tevin Reese for the rest of the season to a broken wrist and Glasco Martin for at least a little while (if what I'm hearing is true) are going to be tough to overcome. Losing starters always is. The good news is that Baylor's depth has improved so tremendously from when Briles got here to now that we should be able to weather the storm. We're going to need younger receivers like Corey Coleman and Robbie Rhodes to step up and fill that void alongside veterans like Clay Fuller, Levi Norwood, and Jay Lee. Losing Reese, arguably the fastest player in college football, robs us of some of our ability to challenge defenses vertically. But for my money, the bigger worry comes from losing Martin, an integral part of our rushing offense, for any significant stretch of time. As long as we have Shock and Lache, we should be ok, but the offense will change somewhat in Martin's absence. It'd be hard for it not to.
With the entire Saturday slate of games left to play, my BCS Prediction for Sunday evening is that you see the Baylor Bears rise to #5 in the country. I think Alabama takes care of business in Tuscaloosa against LSU, securing the #1 spot for the Crimson Tide. The Seminoles do the same to Wake Forest, Stanford already won, and Ohio State doesn't play. I think that's your 1-4 in order after this weekend, though I would love nothing more than Alabama losing or Baylor jumping Ohio State just because.
- I am absolutely exhausted today, but it was worth it. My wife and I got the opportunity to meet several more ODBers yesterday at Fankhauser's tailgate, all of whom were extremely nice, and that was a blast. It's actually convinced me finally that an Official ODB Tailgate for the UT game on 12/7 has to happen, so we need to get working on the logistics. For now, I'll see you guys (and gals) back tonight at 9 PM for the first MBB game!
@TevinReese love you man. This season is for you— Bryce Petty (@b_petty14) November 8, 2013
Got a little dusty in my office today when I saw this. Sic 'em.