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

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It’s been seven years since the Sooners were defeated in the month of November, but the Bears were the last team to do it.

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a sorely needed bye week, the No. 8 Oklahoma Sooners (9-0, 6-0) are on the road to Waco, Texas where the No. 13 Baylor Bears (7-2, 4-2) await for what’s expected to be one of the marquee matchups of the weekend. For both teams, Big 12 Championship Game implications are on the line, and for Lincoln Riley’s unbeaten OU squad, a win would keep them in the hunt for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Perhaps just as impressive as its ongoing 17-game winning streak, Oklahoma is currently riding an active streak of 23 consecutive victories in the month of November dating back to the 2014 season. Some folks call it a tradition. ‘Round these parts, we call it ‘Championship November’.

Date, Time & TV: Saturday, Nov. 13 at 11 a.m. CT on FOX

Line: Oklahoma -5.5 (as of Friday at 2 p.m. CT)

O/U: 62.5

OU-Baylor Game Primer

Our Daily Bears breaks down the matchup and makes a final prediction

Caleb Williams named a semifinalist for the Walter Camp POY and Davey O’Brien Awards

Allen Kenney looks at how Dave Aranda’s defensive scheme will test Oklahoma

Week 11 Gambling Picks from Allen & the Skinny

Major Storylines

Lincoln Riley vs. Dave Aranda, pt. III

For just the third time ever, the game’s greatest offensive mind is set to coach against one of the most respected defensive minds in the nation. The first meeting went down in the 2019 Peach Bowl CFP semifinal between Oklahoma and LSU. Of course, Dave Aranda coordinated LSU’s defense that season en route to a national championship after holding Lincoln Riley’s offense to just 28 points. A year later, the Sooners got the best of the Bears, but struggled once again to generate much of anything, offensively, in a 27-14 win.

Although the sample size is small, Aranda has quietly proven that he understands how to scheme against OU’s strengths and contain the typically powerful offense. Now, the circumstances are much different this time around, but if Riley wants to leave McLane Stadium with the win, his Sooners will have to turn things up against a vaunted BU defense that has yet to give up more than 30 points in a game this season.

Caleb Williams’ first hostile road game

Sure, Caleb Williams started against Kansas in Lawrence a few weeks ago, but you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who would consider a crowd at KU as “hostile” other than the ones yelling inside Allen Fieldhouse.

With that in mind, this contest sets up as an especially significant test for both Williams and the Sooners. Even with an 11 a.m. local time kick-off, the stadium will be rocking with energy and excitement because the Crimson & Cream are in town and because of the top 15 aspect of the matchup. It will be interesting to see how Williams responds to a capacity crowd that’s actively cheering against him not one whose allegiance is split down the middle. Add the fact that this will likely be the toughest defense Oklahoma has played to date, and you’ve got a recipe for classic college football shenanigans.

Bears to watch out for

Offensively, Baylor boasts a legitimate three-headed monster with QB Gerry Bohanon, RB Abram Smith and WR Tyquan Thornton. If OU wants to limit the explosivity of BU’s attack, at least one of those playmakers must be contained. Defensively, keep an eye on do-it-all safety Jalen Pitre, LB Terrel Bernard and the mountainous DT Siaki Ika. Not only are each of those defenders talented enough to change the game on a single play, they’re all experienced enough to know how to adjust their strategy on the fly as the game wears on.

Do the Sooners have another gear?

Through nine games, Oklahoma has yet to put together a truly complete game on all sides of the ball (you can argue the Tech game was the closest), but going on the road to face a ranked opponent presents a massive opportunity to do just that. It won’t be easy by any stretch, but if the Sooners are as healthy as they have been all season (which they should be), and they truly play up to their capabilities from start to finish on offense, defense and special teams, then this group will be rewarded handsomely by the CFP committee in return. Personally, I believe this team has that championship gear, and I think we’ll finally see it in Waco.

Prediction

After taking last weekend off to rest and regroup, I see a disrespected Oklahoma team coming out of the gate strong and fast against solid Baylor club. Caleb Williams and his receiving corps will pick apart BU’s secondary, gradually opening things up for the Sooners’ ground game. When the Bears have the ball, I expect Aranda’s usual suspects to get theirs, but OU’s defense should be as healthy as it’s been this season, meaning they can play more aggressively between the 20s and force more than a few field goals or fourth down attempts in the red zone. I predict several big plays to be made for both squads, but the visitors will ultimately capitalize much more often on theirs.

Oklahoma 39, Baylor 22

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