Will the Baylor Bears win another game all season?
Jim Grobe’s team committed mindless penalties, turned the ball over at crucial times and lost its starting quarterback to a gruesome leg injury en route to a 45-24 drubbing in Norman. The Sooners, while not exactly dominant, rode their two star running backs and the nation’s best receiver to an offensive output that Baylor, a program in utter turmoil, couldn’t hope to keep up with.
Oklahoma controlled the early stages of the contest, challenging Baylor’s morale with amazing catches against good coverage. Mark Andrews, Jeffery Mead and Dede Westbrook all made superb grabs in the early going, and the Bears couldn’t get OU off the field on third down. When Dede tightrope-walked the sideline into the end zone to put the Sooners up 14-0, it looked like Baylor was in for another long day.
The next drive, though, Baylor drove efficiently even though they’d just lost their main running back Terence Williams to injury. JaMycal Hasty filled in nicely and Seth Russell broke a 23-yard run on fourth-and-1. Oklahoma’s fourth-down defense would be a problem all day, as the Bears converted four of their six tries. Fortunately, Russell threw a pick to Jordan Evans from the 1 yard line to end the Baylor threat for the moment.
OU took the opportunity to march downfield behind nice Joe Mixon runs and a 43-yard downfield floater to speedy Mykel Jones. Samaje Perine punched it in, and it looked like the blowout was on. But Baylor rebounded for ten points before halftime—something the commentators couldn’t stop giving them credit for. I guess they were impressed that Baylor didn’t just roll over and die.
The OU defense let Baylor back in with a few poor tackles, and also it dropped several interceptions that could have added to its already-solid total of two. The Bears were able to win the line-of-scrimmage battle in the second quarter to give themselves hope before halftime. But they also did their part to assure their own destruction—like when Sam Tecklenburg shoved Caleb Kelly in the face near the goal line for no reason, forcing Baylor to settle for a field goal rather than go for the TD.
Caleb Kelly, on not retaliating after getting hit in face: "If I do something I know Coach Bob is gonna go ham on me so I was good" #Sooners— Eric Bailey (@EricBaileyTW) November 12, 2016
The Bears finished the day with a not-ideal nine penalties, most of those for sloppy O-line play.
Baylor also coughed up the football near midfield with a Russell fumble, just plays after a rare Baker Mayfield interception gave them a chance for even more first-half points. OU finished the game with 14 points off turnovers, while the Bears had none.
Any hope for a Baylor comeback effectively ended in the third quarter. An ineligible receiver downfield penalty stymied a dangerous Bears drive, Westbrook made an incredible leaping touchdown grab from 40 yards out, and Evans grabbed his second pick which led to an easy Sooners score. Things got even worse for Baylor when Russell’s leg exploded later in the quarter (they’re calling it a dislocated ankle, and his season’s probably done). True freshman Zach Smith obviously has a live arm, but it’ll be a tall task for him to pick up a win for the Bears down the home stretch.
I basically have two main thoughts about this game. For one, it’s nice for the world to be back in order—that is, Oklahoma better than Baylor—but the decline of the BU program is just sad. The allegations are sad, the attitude of (some of) the Baylor fan base is sad and the on-field product is sad. The whole sordid affair hung like a fog over the contest, the commentators bringing it up four or five times during the game. I wanted Oklahoma to start beating the Bears every year again, but not like this.
Second, despite the lopsided score, I’d caution Sooners fans from taking too much away from this game. I think the blowout was made possible by circumstances that are hard to repeat—goal-line interceptions and dumb Baylor mistakes and such. The defense didn’t really look great, struggling against the run and often unable to get off the field facing third- and fourth-down situations.
The offense looks like it’s still clicking, though it can improve as well.
OU has the inside track to a Big 12 championship, but their last two games are against better competition than they’ve seen in weeks. Baylor was a step up from Iowa State and Kansas, but it’s a program trending in the wrong direction. West Virginia and OSU still have a ton to play for. We’ll see how the Sooners fare.