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Oklahoma Sooners Football vs. Baylor: Game preview, storylines & predictions

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OU’s final home game of the season features last year’s Big 12 runner-up.

NCAA Football: Baylor at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

After taking the last weekend off to recover from a rash of COVID related cases, the No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners (6-2, 5-2) are ready to welcome the Baylor Bears (2-5) to the Palace on the Prairie for the final home game of the 2020 season. The story for BU is much different when comparing last year’s team to the present one. Following an exodus of experience on both sides of the ball as well as the hiring of head coach Dave Aranda, this is a team that has struggled to repeat the same success that brought the program an overtime period away from claiming a Big 12 title last December.

Date, Time & TV: Saturday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. CT on FOX

Location: Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium — Norman, Oklahoma

Streaming: FoxSportsGo

Line: Oklahoma -22 (as of Friday at 6 p.m. CT)

O/U: 61.5

Links of the week:

Major Storylines

Bob Stoops is (or was) back!

On Tuesday, Lincoln Riley sent shockwaves throughout Sooner Nation when he confirmed that Bob Stoops — the winningest head coach in the history of OU Football — has been brought onto the staff this week as a temporary assistant. The former face of the program has been helping out with multiple position groups while unnamed staff members await to return to the team following the latest COVID outbreak.

There was a chance that we’d see him on the sidelines this Saturday, but it’s been announced that OU will have enough assistants to make that unnecessary. It’s obviously great that the coaches are good to go, but how cool would it have been to see Big Game Bob back on the sidelines in an official coaching capacity during an actual game? Too cool for reality, apparently.

The Sooners officially control their own destiny!

It’s fitting that Oklahoma’s next opponent is Baylor considering the possibility of controlling its own destiny finally became an official reality when the Bears defeated the Kansas State Wildcats last weekend. Whatever wacky Big 12 tiebreaker scenarios that still existed going into last Saturday can now be set aside because for the first time since falling to an 0-2 start to conference play, the Sooners are truly in a win-and-they’re-in situation.

Sure, this upcoming meeting might get rather ugly, but don’t forget to thank the Bears for cleaning up the mess on aisle 12 on your way out.

How will OU’s seniors play in their (possible) final home game?

Oklahoma canceled all Senior Day festivities set for this weekend due to travel concerns amid the ongoing pandemic, but that doesn’t mean this game will be any less significant for those Sooners who are potentially playing on Owen Field for the last time ever. Players like CB Tre Brown, RB Rhamondre Stevenson, LT Erik Swenson and others have a chance to go out with highlight performances.

It’ll also be interesting to see what fourth-year juniors like center Creed Humphrey, RT Adrian Ealy, H-back Jeremiah Hall, WR Charleston Rambo and DE Isaiah Thomas do in what could be their final curtain call at home. The hope for fans is that most of these players return next year for what is shaping up to be a special team in 2021, but if the NFL is calling their name, it would be in their best interest to sign that dotted line and start earning a nice living.

Can Baylor generate any offense on the ground?

If you’ve been paying attention, you won’t be surprised to know that Oklahoma boasts the Big 12’s top run defense. Through eight contests, the Sooners are only giving up 96 rushing yards per game to opposing offenses. Conversely, Baylor ranks last in the conference in running the ball, averaging just 102.6 yards per outing.

Bears QB Charlie Brewer hasn’t enjoyed the same level of success as he did in 2019, and much of that has to do with the drastic step back that his team’s running game has taken this fall. If these statistics stay true to form, the game will have to be placed in Brewer’s hands, because he won’t be able to rely on his ground game to keep OU’s defense honest.

Who could step up in place of Bonitto and Bookie?

According to a report from SI Sooners’ Parker Thune, Oklahoma’s Nik Bonitto and Brendan Radley-Hiles will be absent from the lineup this weekend due to COVID-related issues. Thankfully, OU has shown it has adequate depth at both the RUSH LB position as well as the nickelback spot.

In place of Bonitto, expect to see a lot more of redshirt senior Jon-Michael Terry or promising freshman Brynden Walker. For ‘Bookie’, the most likely next-man-up will be redshirt junior Tre Norwood, with redshirt frosh Jeremiah Criddell possibly earning some burn in select situations.

Prediction

Despite not playing last weekend and a late kick-off for this game, Oklahoma won’t have to knock off any rust to jump all over Baylor. The Sooners will continue their trend of starting fast in the first quarter behind Spencer Rattler’s arm and Rhamondre Stevenson’s legs. On defense, OU will play with a lot of energy, making life in the pocket difficult for Charlie Brewer. I don’t expect the outcome of this game to ever be in serious doubt beyond the second quarter. Folks, I want you to watch out for senior QB Tanner Schafer, who I predict will take a snap or two down the stretch in what may be the final home game of his collegiate career. In the end, the Bears will score a late touchdown, but the home team will walk off the field with a comfortable victory.

Oklahoma 52, Baylor 16

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