Oklahoma (7-2) opened the game against Baylor (6-2) just after 11 a.m. CST. By 11:30, Oklahoma was firmly in the driver’s seat. While it would get somewhat close at times, the game was never really in jeopardy. Here’s how it happened.
Oklahoma started with the ball and promptly drove down the field with great catches by Jeffrey Mead and Mark Andrews. Baker Mayfield finished the drive with a hopping touchdown into the end zone to give the Sooners a lead that (spoiler alert) they would never surrender. Baylor’s first two drives ended in a turnover on downs and a punt, while Oklahoma’s second touchdown mirrored the first: ending in a touchdown, this one coming off a nice 29-yard touchdown pass to Dede Westbrook who tight-roped the sidelines while getting his face mask pulled by a Baylor defender who couldn’t stop the streaking wide receiver from finding the end zone.
Baylor was knocking on the door on its next drive, but Seth Russell found linebacker Jordan Evans at the goal line instead of anyone wearing a Baylor jersey. A Samaje Perine touchdown (a welcome sentence for OU fans who’ve missed the bruising running back the last few weeks) made it 21-0 in favor of the men in Crimson. The next ten points came from Baylor, and the first half ended 21-10.
Baylor had some momentum, and they got the ball to start the second half. That momentum produced only 15 yards on five plays, though, and the Bears punted the ball back to Oklahoma. Baker Mayfield happily obliged the home fans looking for a route when he tossed a 40-yard touchdown pass to Dede Westbrook. Westbrook would finish the game with only 88 yards receiving—a six-game low—but his second touchdown of the game put Oklahoma up 28-10.
Jordan Evans made his presence known again the next drive, intercepting Russell once again. The return took the ball down the one-yard-line, and Samaje Perine made them play on the next play with a touchdown to make it 35-10. A long drive for Baylor against a defense that started to look a bit too comfortable with the lead took the score to 35-17, but after trading punts from there, Joe Mixon refused to let the scoreboard rest as he took a run off-tackle for 56 yards and an Oklahoma touchdown.
A missed tackle on Baylor’s drive gave them an easy 62-yard touchdown, but it was far too little, too late. Oklahoma responded with a field goal to make it 45-21 Sooners, and Baylor turned it over on downs in the red zone to officially ice the game. Samaje Perine broke a long run for good measure while Oklahoma ran out the clock, to give both he and Mixon 100 yards rushing on the day. Another game featuring the two-headed monster at running back and a solid day by Mayfield (20/25, 300 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception) was finally accompanied by a solid game from the defense to give the Sooners a much-needed comfortable win.
The keys to the game
Before the game, we wanted to see three things:
- Win third downs
- Start strong
- Pressure the quarterback.
On third downs, Oklahoma looked much better than it did against Texas Tech. While the Sooners allowed the Bears to convert 4/6 fourth down plays, they did hold them to 10/22 on third downs. Baylor penalties played a big part, but that’s part of how the Bears play (they are worst in the country in terms of penalties-per-game). On the other end, Oklahoma converted an impressive 12 of their 17 third-down attempts, helping the offense avoid stalls that keep points off the board. Win third downs: check.
The Sooners won the toss, and radio listeners could clearly hear Mayfield say “we want the ball” without hesitation. They took advantage, scoring on their first drive. They scored on their second drive. And they scored on their third drive. Against a Baylor team that some thought might cave if they got down early, the Sooners made sure Baylor was down early. 21-0 is as good a start as you can ask for. Check.
With QB pressure, Oklahoma didn’t necessarily bury the quarterbacks, but they did get the pressure they needed. Seth Russell (who would come out after an injury that ended his season) finished just 15/31, with 1 touchdown to his 2 interceptions. Oklahoma got enough pressure to allow middle linebacker Jordan Evans to have two pass break-ups in addition to his two interceptions. When a middle linebacker wreaks havoc on the passing game, that typically tells you all you need to know about how the quarterback did. Backup Zach Smith came in to the game and went 6/15. There were some sacks mixed in, but the big sign of the pressure was the completion percentage, and the Sooners won that battle. I’ll say “check,” with a major caveat: the Sooners allowed some brutal runs by Russell earlier that kept the chains moving. Pressure is great, but you’ve got to fill the gaps, too. Still, I think OU fans will take the trade-off. Good enough.