We are running a bit behind this week, but nonetheless the great people at OurDailyBears.com answered some questions for us to give us a better idea of not only the Baylor team, but how they see things shaping up later this evening. Here is the transcript of our conversation.
CCM: For the Sooner fans that only know the household names (Coleman, Billings, Oakman, Cannon, and Stidham), who are several players that we should pay attention to on Saturday?
ODB: Aside from the usual suspects, which should probably include Spencer Drango, I'd say to keep an eye on Jay Lee, who has had something of a breakout year at WR as a senior, and Xavier Howard, clearly our best cornerback. Baylor will rely on Howard to try to limit Sterling Shepard when he's on Howard's side, but we haven't shown a tendency to move anyone to follow anyone yet, so I doubt we do that now. I'd also mention Travon Blanchard, our nickelback/Bear linebacker, who has also come into his own this season and represents a significant upgrade over what we had at the position a year ago.
CCM: With Stidham making his 2nd start against a major step up in competition, will Briles and company give him some easy reads and passes to start the game to get him into a rhythm?
ODB: Probably. They started the game against KSU with two wide receiver screens in a row to get the road game jitters out, and that seemed to work pretty well. I anticipate that Baylor will either attempt to establish the run right off the bat or do something similar with easy throws. Of course I said something similar about Seth Russell in his first start this year, and Baylor came out throwing deep on the first play of the game.
CCM: Is Andrew Billings Healthy?
ODB: I can't imagine that he's completely healthy, but I hope he's healthier than he has been. Ankle/leg injuries are particularly serious/harder to get over for bigger guys, and Billings is one of the biggest we have. He'll play, but I wouldn't at all be surprised to see a lot of rotation to keep him fresh. Baylor needs him to play well to have any chance at limiting your rushing attack. Without any inside information beyond what has been said publicly, my guess is that you will see 85-90% of Billings normal effort, which is still much better than the alternative.
CCM: Will Baylor do anything different defensively to stop the Sooners rushing attack?
ODB: Normally, I might mention our 3 man front with Palmer, Billings, and Oakman that is designed to get an extra linebacker on the field, but I doubt we see a lot of that with Billings still somewhat limited and the obvious problems resulting from removing a DL against a team that has Samaje Perine. Baylor used a variety of run blitzes in the second and third quarters against KSU that I would expect to see again in the same capacity, though I hope we don't stop them in the fourth quarter this time like we did then.
CCM: Do you guys believe Baylor will make the College Football Playoff if they win out?
ODB: Absolutely, but only if we win out.
CCM: What do the Bears need to do to win on Saturday?
ODB: Get pressure on Baker Mayfield with our front four (a somewhat dodgy proposition considering we're one of the worst sacking teams in the conference this season), stop the run as much as possible, and limit big plays. Those three things seem somewhat obvious, I'm sure, but I have enough confidence in our offense to play well at home to believe that the pressure will be primarily, if not entirely on the defense. As usual, I guess.
CCM: What is your score prediction and why?
ODB: Baylor 45, Oklahoma 31. Baylor doesn't lose at home!