You can't ignore the fact that Baylor has never beaten Oklahoma and that Baylor has arguably one of the worst defenses in the entire country. You also can't ignore the fact that Robert Griffin III can single handily take over a game with his substantial athletic abilities, that Kendall Wright is a legit threat at WR, and that Terrance Ganaway provides a run threat that Baylor has lacked in recent years. So while OU is and deserves to be the favorite in this game that does not mean the Sooners can go down to Waco and expect to roll over these Baylor Bears.
Given how up and down we've seen this OU team play in basically every game, is it inconceivable that they could come out flat for this game? In my opinion, no it is not. Now do I think that will happen? No I do not, but if this team has proven anything to me this year it's that you cannot take anything for granted with them.
As good as the Baylor offense is, to me this game and the possibility of OU losing comes down to basically one thing.
Good Landry must show up in Waco. Baylor is going to get their points, make no mistake about it. I expect the OU defense to play strong after having two weeks to rest up, but this Baylor offense is too good for our Sooners to shut them down. So even if the defense gives up some points and/or big plays, I still think we have enough on offense (even without Ryan Broyles) to get the best of Baylor. However, that is based on the premise that we don't get Bad Landry Saturday night. The only way I see OU losing this game is if Bad Landry shows up and starts giving the ball back to Baylor. A defense this bad is just looking for a reason to have some confidence and if Bad Landry gives that to them and their offense gets rolling, well my friends it could be a history making night in Waco.
No brain farts in coverage on Kendall Wright. And yes, 'brain farts' is a technical term. I have full confidence in Jamell Fleming and/or Demontre Hurst's ability to cover Wright one-on-one, but that said it's not like Wright will have zero catches. What they need to avoid are the rare instances we've seen this year where they get lackadaisical and allow someone to get behind them or miss on a tackle for a long gain. If Baylor was smart, they would move Wright inside as that would match him up with an OU linebacker or safety since Venables will NEVER move a CB inside. This would both provide Baylor with a significant advantage as well as allow them exploit what is easily the kryptonite for a Venables defense, the middle of the field. If Baylor tries this and Venables does not adjust, Wright might set a few records himself.
Contain RGIII. I expect him to probably get close to 300 yards passing, but that will hopefully come from a necessity to pass upon being down multiple scores so I wouldn't care too much about that. However, what we can't allow to happen is to lose contain and give him lanes to take off up the field. Some fans who are unfamiliar with the development of his game may mistakenly assume that Griffin will look to run whenever available. I would say that isn't really an accurate portrayal and that instead he'll go through his progressions and really only look to run when forced to. They also won't run him on a lot of designed QB runs as they've been smart in realizing who their meal ticket is and taking care to keep him healthy. The negative for this from an OU perspective is this kind of QB forces our pass rush to slow down just enough, so they don't lose contain, and can give that extra second for a receiver to get open and RGIII to keep the chains moving.
Stopping Ganaway will be key. I remember watching the Baylor/TCU game earlier this year and wondering who Terrance Ganaway was and why I had never heard of him before. Initially I thought "Wow, Baylor has a nice young RB there" and then thanks to the interwebs was shocked to find out that he was actually a senior. He struck me as an impressive back who just kind of looked like a solid football player. I have no clue why he is just now seeing his first significant action in his final year of eligibility considering that Baylor wasn't exactly RB-U the last couple years. So my compliments for the kid aside, I think stopping him will be key for this OU defense Saturday night. I say that because Baylor's best defense is keeping OU's offense off the field and they can do that with long, sustained drives on the legs of Ganaway. At 240 pounds, he's an absolute load to bring down and he is also quick enough to take it to the house as he did on an 80-yard TD earlier this year. I would expect Baylor to test the middle of this OU defense early and often with Ganaway and if they find success it makes things much more difficult for our Sooners. It also sets up a very dangerous play action passing game for RGIII, Wright and company that would very much worry me considering how aggressive this defense tends to be.
So there you have it. As always, we want to hear your thoughts on things that might concern you heading into this game Saturday night. And we'll be back Friday to give you our 'OU vs. Baylor - What needs to happen' so make sure to check back in with your favorite OU blog then!