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Baylor vs. Oklahoma—Preview/Prediction Thread

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Baylor has its work cut out for it tomorrow coming off a loss to TCU and with Oklahoma coming to town.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 30 Texas at Baylor Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

First thing first, a hype video from Friend of the Blog Tedvid:

MATCHUP: #13 Baylor Bears (7-2, 5-2) vs. #8 Oklahoma Sooners (9-0, 6-0)
LOCATION: Waco, TX
ODB GAME HUB: Baylor Bears vs. Oklahoma Sooners 2021
OPPONENT’S SB NATION BLOG: Crimson and Cream Machine (CRRM)
TRAVIS’S PREVIEW: How Baylor Can Beat Oklahoma.
OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE BAYLOR DEFENSE: From CRRM.
PODCASTS: OurDailyPodcast | Between Two Bears | SourGrapesPod | Please Bear With Me | Bear Den | SicEm365’s Bear Cast
COLLEGEFOOTBALLDATA.COM TEAM PAGES: Baylor | OU
WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE: OU
GAME NOTES (INCLUDING DEPTH CHART): Here.
BAYLORBEARS.COM PREVIEW: Here.
SPREAD: OU -5.5, O/U 62
TV COVERAGE: FOX, 2:30 PM Saturday
UNIFORM: Green, green, green, the same combination from the Texas and BYU (sans the Sailor Bear) games.

WEATHER (Waco): From WundergroundThose folks camping out at McLane tonight are going to want to bundle up and take advantage of the warming stations Baylor is providing, because the low will be 39 degrees. By game-time tomorrow, it should be around 59 degrees rising to a high of 66-67 with clear skies and very light winds. I’m sure the stadium will still feel like a million degrees, though.

I did not get a chance to do my normal First Look post this week, so I’m going to combine some of those elements here.

How Did We Get Here?

Baylor 2021

G Date Time Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak
G Date Time Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak
1 4-Sep-21 7:00 PM Sat Baylor Texas State Sun Belt 29 20 1 0 W 1
2 11-Sep-21 7:00 PM Sat Baylor Texas Southern Non-Major 66 7 2 0 W 2
3 18-Sep-21 3:30 PM Sat Baylor Kansas Big 12 45 7 3 0 W 3
4 25-Sep-21 3:30 PM Sat Baylor (14) Iowa State Big 12 31 29 4 0 W 4
5 2-Oct-21 7:00 PM Sat (21) Baylor (19) Oklahoma State Big 12 14 24 4 1 L 1
6 9-Oct-21 12:00 PM Sat Baylor West Virginia Big 12 45 20 5 1 W 1
7 16-Oct-21 3:30 PM Sat Baylor (19) BYU Ind 38 24 6 1 W 2
8 30-Oct-21 12:00 PM Sat (16) Baylor Texas Big 12 31 24 7 1 W 3
9 6-Nov-21 3:30 PM Sat (14) Baylor Texas Christian Big 12 28 30 7 2 L 1

Baylor is obviously 7-2 on the season with both losses occurring in away games. Given that Oklahoma State is now ranked in the top ten by everyone that matters, that loss isn’t bad at all. TCU, on the other hand...

Oklahoma 2021

G Date Time Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak
G Date Time Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak
1 4-Sep-21 12:00 PM Sat (2) Oklahoma Tulane American 40 35 1 0 W 1
2 11-Sep-21 7:00 PM Sat (4) Oklahoma Western Carolina Non-Major 76 0 2 0 W 2
3 18-Sep-21 12:00 PM Sat (3) Oklahoma Nebraska Big Ten 23 16 3 0 W 3
4 25-Sep-21 7:30 PM Sat (4) Oklahoma West Virginia Big 12 16 13 4 0 W 4
5 2-Oct-21 3:30 PM Sat (6) Oklahoma Kansas State Big 12 37 31 5 0 W 5
6 9-Oct-21 12:00 PM Sat (6) Oklahoma (21) Texas Big 12 55 48 6 0 W 6
7 16-Oct-21 7:30 PM Sat (4) Oklahoma Texas Christian Big 12 52 31 7 0 W 7
8 23-Oct-21 12:00 PM Sat (3) Oklahoma Kansas Big 12 35 23 8 0 W 8
9 30-Oct-21 3:30 PM Sat (4) Oklahoma Texas Tech Big 12 52 21 9 0 W 9

Oklahoma would probably define their season as two-in-one: the part before Caleb Williams took over in the Texas game, when they looked shaky against Tulane, Nebraska, West Virginia, Kansas State, and then Texas, and the part after. Williams’ play has changed basically everything for the Sooners this season beginning with that Texas game, and though it is completely absurd, he’s actually getting Heisman discussion.

Advanced Stats Overview

Baylor vs. OU (F+)

Rk Team F+ OF+ Rk DF+ Rk FEI Rk SP+ Rk
Rk Team F+ OF+ Rk DF+ Rk FEI Rk SP+ Rk
9 Oklahoma 1.25 1.89 3 0.11 63 0.62 14 19.2 9
18 Baylor 1 0.84 25 0.85 23 0.54 18 14.7 18

Interestingly, Baylor is in exactly the same spot in the F+ rankings (18th) that we were a week ago even after losing to TCU. Our defense fell in the combined DF+ rankings, which was to be expected, but our offense rose slightly. SP+ actually likes us more now (from 19th to 18th) and FEI stayed the same (18th).

It’s obvious to say, but the two defenses are going to be the keys to this game, albeit for different reasons. OU’s defense is ranked in the 60s in DF+, about 20 spots ahead of our last opponent in TCU and 15 behind our opponent before that in Texas. We should be able to move the ball against them. But our defense has shown obvious weakness, as well, particularly against the pass. How you feel about this game probably aligns with whether you think the TCU game (and Chandler Morris’s performance against us therein) was an aberration or a huge red flag. It could be a little bit of both, obviously.

Baylor vs. OU (FEI)

Rk Team FEI OFEI Rk DFEI Rk NDE Rk NPD Rk NAY Rk NPP Rk ELS Rk GLS Rk ALS Rk
Rk Team FEI OFEI Rk DFEI Rk NDE Rk NPD Rk NAY Rk NPP Rk ELS Rk GLS Rk ALS Rk
14 Oklahoma 0.62 1.17 7 -0.06 67 0.87 24 1.18 12 0.104 26 1.08 24 0.76 75 2.08 76 3.95 76
18 Baylor 0.54 0.71 23 0.4 32 0.88 23 0.89 21 0.081 35 1.08 25 1.05 42 2.53 49 4.46 54

I find it really interesting that FEI does not see this game as much of a mismatch, though that could be due, in part, to OU’s early-season struggles. In fact, FEI has OU ranked third among teams we’ve played behind Iowa State (6th) and Oklahoma State (7th). FEI seems to agree that this is a game between one team with a really good offense and suspect defense (OU) against another with at least decent units on both sides (Baylor).

Notes/Thoughts:

  • We have no real way of knowing what kind of impact losing your beloved (by the team) Associate Head Coach to a conference rival had on team chemistry or preparation, or what kind of a distraction it was. But I can’t imagine it was a good thing and would certainly rather it happened in another week. Reputable folks have reported that the team was more concerned about having lost to TCU—and rightfully so—than the coaching drama, which we can only hope spurred them to be more focused rather than less. How Baylor comes out of the gates will be interesting to watch.
  • So, too, will be how Oklahoma starts the game. Even with Williams at the helm, OU has started relatively slowly this season, letting teams either get up on them or stick around far longer than they should. Against a Baylor team that wants to grind out efficient drives and limit possessions for both sides, this could be a problem if they don’t give themselves enough time to regroup and strike back. But if they get out of the gates quickly, things could get interesting quickly with the onus on Baylor to keep up or come back.
  • My biggest concern in this game should be obvious—our pass defense. Due, in part, to a relatively anemic pass rush, we have been vulnerable to big plays in the passing game. You know this as well as I do; Chandler Morris threw for 460 yards on us a week ago. And you also know OU is going to try to replicate that formula by throwing the ball early and often. It will be critical for Baylor to keep contain and force Williams to go through reads in the pocket; he may be extremely talented, but he’s also young and inexperienced. And he’s at his best when plays break down. It will take discipline from our pass rushers and linebackers to keep him from getting free and, of course, a sack or seven would really help.
  • We have to mix it up on first and ten, where we nearly always run. It makes our offense too predictable, leading to long second downs and even more predictable third downs. Gerry has shown that he can operate the offense through the air. We should give him more opportunities to do so on early downs rather than rely so heavily on the running game.

Players to Know:

  • #13 Caleb Williams—Duh, he’s the freshman phenom QB that has Oklahoma thinking they can compete for a national championship this season based on his play so far. Unless something goes really wrong for OU (or us), we won’t see #7 Spencer Rattler in this game. Williams is 78/109 passing for 1189 yards, 14 TDs, and just 1 INT. He also has 288 rushing yards and 4 TDs on 31 carries.
  • #26 Kennedy Brooks—OU’s leading rusher with 802 yards and 9 TDs on 131 carries. Brooks is the #6 rusher in terms of yards in the conference.
  • #17 Marvin Mims—OU’s leading receiver with 605 yards and 4 TDs on 26 receptions. You’ve probably seen several of his more acrobatic receptions, including the one against Texas late in the game to set up what I think was the tying OU TD.
  • #11 Nik Bonitto—OU’s RUSH defender and team leader in sacks with 5. It feels like Bonitto has been at OU forever.
  • #10 Patrick Fields—OU’s leading tackler and starting free safety. I don’t think it says good things about your defense if a safety is your leading tackle, and we’ve seen that a time or two at Baylor.
  • #24 Brian Asamoah II—OU’s #2 tackler and starting will linebacker.

Prediction Time:

  • Peter Pope (@pbpope): Said either 37-34 Baylor or 37-34 OU.
  • Kendall Kaut (@kendallkaut): OU 35, Baylor 28.
  • Travis Roeder (@travis_roeder): Baylor 31, OU 28.
  • David Fankhauser (@dfank_bu): Baylor 37, OU 34.
  • Amy Pagitt (@amygrahampagitt): Baylor 28, OU -2.
  • Jeff Davis (@penland365): Baylor 44, OU 24.
  • Matt Wilson (@mattisbear): Baylor 41, OU 35. And he included the prediction that we miss an extra point early to make things super nervous going into the last drive.
  • Etta (@bayloretta): Baylor 35, OU 34 in 2 OT. Very specific.

I ... do not have a good feeling about this game. I don’t like what I assume to have been distractions with McGuire leaving, I don’t like the way the pass defense played against TCU (obviously), and even though I think we’re a different team at home in front of a home crowd, I don’t have a lot of confidence that we’re going to be able to stop OU’s offense enough to let ours win the game. But I will be there in my usual spot hoping that I am wrong about all of these things.

Oklahoma 38, Baylor 28.

Poll

Predict the outcome of tomorrow’s Baylor vs. OU game.

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Baylor, big (17+)
    (7 votes)
  • 4%
    Baylor, comfortable (11-16)
    (8 votes)
  • 14%
    Baylor, close (4-10)
    (26 votes)
  • 22%
    Baylor, squeak (1-3)
    (41 votes)
  • 7%
    OU, squeak
    (13 votes)
  • 20%
    OU, close
    (37 votes)
  • 20%
    OU, comfortable
    (38 votes)
  • 7%
    OU, big
    (14 votes)
184 votes total Vote Now