The Oklahoma Sooners couldn’t overcome three turnovers in the first half or Baylor’s physical running game in a 38-35 upset loss to the Bears on Saturday at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
Baylor netted 281 yards on 48 rushing attempts and got all five of its touchdowns on the ground as the Bears offensive line pushed the Sooners around for four quarters. Running back Craig Williams paced Baylor with 192 yards and two rushing TDs on 25 carries. OU simply couldn’t stop Baylor’s ground attack late in the contest, enabling the Bears to extend their lead and melt the clock. The Bears enjoyed an edge in time of possession of 33:42 to 26:18.
The Bears picked off OU QB Dillon Gabriel three times in the first two quarters, which translated directly into 10 Baylor points. All three picks came off deflections. The visitors won the turnover battle for the game, three to one.
While the early turnovers put OU in a hole, Baylor’s offensive line ultimately turned this game in favor of the Bears. In addition to opening big holes for runners, the unit kept Baylor QB Blake Shapen clean for most of four quarters. The Sooners sacked Shapen just once for a loss of six yards. Shapen completed 14-of-23 pass attempts for 132 yards and one interception in the game.
The turnovers overshadowed an otherwise solid performance by the Sooners on offense against a salty Baylor D. OU generated 499 yards of total offense on 79 plays. Gabriel completed 22-of-34 pass attempts for 261 yards and two TDs. He connected four times with receiver Marvin Mims for 120 yards and a score. Additionally, RB Eric Gray carried the ball 23 times for 106 yards and two TDs. It marked the sixth time in nine games that Gray has topped the century mark this year.
Aside from the issues with stopping the run, OU coach Brent Venables will undoubtedly harp on penalties and discipline with his team this week. The Sooners committed eight infractions for 64 yards. Notably, a personal foul against center Andrew Raym on the final offensive play of the first half turned a 40-yard field goal attempt into an unsuccessful 55-yard try as time expired in the second quarter. In the third quarter, defensive lineman Isaiah Coe earned a personal foul that gave Baylor a first down at OU’s seven yard line instead of putting the Bears in a third-and-long situation.
With the loss, the Sooners fell to 5-4 overall and 2-4 in Big 12 play. Whatever thin hopes of playing in the conference championship game that they might have had are dead. With three games left to play, Venables can still eclipse the record of his mentor Bob Stoops in his first season at OU. The Sooners finished 7-5 in 1999, year one under Stoops.
Hoping to gain bowl eligibility, OU travels to Morgantown next week to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers.