A week ago in Norman, the Oklahoma Sooners took on the country’s best and brightest when a disciplined, high-character Army squad came to town and almost pulled off the unthinkable upset. This afternoon, OU will take on the Baylor Bears.
As Matt Rhule in his second season continues the rebuild of a
once-proud dubiously successful program that boasts a familiar, high-flying offense, Oklahoma will need to show that the familiar defensive concerns of soft tackling and sometimes-unsatisfactory pass coverage that have surfaced the last couple of weeks have been addressed and will be much improved.
I’m not sure I expect that to happen. I expect a high-scoring game full of big plays and head-scratching moments. But one thing is going for OU — for the most part, Baylor’s defense has been far worse. For better or worse, this should be an entertaining afternoon of football in Norman.
Before we continue, we should probably take a second to mention the Kyler Murray situation. On Friday, rumors of disciplinary action — or even a suspension — began to spread regarding OU’s star QB. It now appears that the issue isn’t serious, as it’s apparently a case of the coaching staff sending him (and the team) a message after Murray didn’t fulfill an obligation of some sort. Brandon Drumm of OUInsider provides some insight into what might have happened and what to expect here.
Update: According to Austin Kendall’s mom, her son will start against Baylor.
Head on down to the comments section for the game thread, where we’ll be asking questions, making predictions and discussing the day’s action with y’all.
TV: ABC 2:30 P.M. CT
Live Stream: WatchESPN
TV Commentary: Mark Jones, Dusty Dvoracek, Molly McGrath
Baylor enters this game at 3-1 on the season with an offense led by freshman signal caller Charlie Brewer and former Tennessee Vols running back transfer Jalen Hurd, who is now a productive receiver. The Bears have the players to hurt the Sooners on the ground and in the air. Wide receiver Denzel Mims, who torched OU in last season’s thriller in Waco, will undoubtedly try to imitate his success this time around, as well — especially after seeing what the Iowa State wide receivers did to Mike Stoops’ secondary two weeks ago.
Ultimately, though, the Bears defense doesn’t appear to have enough — particularly against the run — to stop Kyler Murray and the Sooners at home. We could also be seeing the budding of the conference’s most prolific one-two punch in inside linebackers Kenneth Murray and Curtis Bolton, who had their work cut out for them while going for 28 and 23 tackles respectively in last week’s win against Army’s triple option. If the Baylor run game is kept in check, OU should gain control through this contest early and not look back.
Combine improved tackling with a defensive front that is currently ranked 18th nationally in tackles for loss and the Sooners could dominate this matchup as the 23.5-point spread indicates. However, Mike Stoops could prevent that from happening.
Score Prediction: OU 45, Baylor 35
In case you missed it, here’s episode five of Oklahoma Breakdown: