The Oklahoma Sooners are set to host the Baylor Bears this weekend in Norman, looking to claim a seventh win on the season and move up from No. 12 in the BCS rankings back into the top 10.
OU (6-2, 4-1) is somewhat back on track after knocking off Iowa State behind QB Landry Jones' four touchdown passes in Week 10. Baylor (4-4, 1-4) was able to get its first conference win against Kansas, far and away the doormat of the Big 12.
The two teams need a win for different reasons. Baylor is losing opportunities to become bowl eligible, and still has Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State on its schedule.
Oklahoma is still in position for an outside shot at a BCS berth, but will need some help at the top of the rankings and needs to remain unbeaten the rest of the way.
Here's a complete primer for this Big 12 showdown, getting you all the information you need so you don't miss out on what's looking like an offensive shootout in the making.
When: Saturday, November 10 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Oklahoma Memorial Stadium; Norman, Oklahoma
Watch: Fox Sports Net (Check local/regional listings)
Betting Line: Oklahoma -20.5 (according to Sports Book)
Injury Report (via USA Today)
|K.J. Morton||S||Groin||Ques Sat - 11/5/12|
|Demetri Goodson||DB||Arm||Out indefinitely - 10/8/12|
|Kaeron Johnson||DT||Back||out for season - 8/30/12|
|Taylor McNamara||TE||Shoulder||out for season - 10/31/12|
|Nila Kasitati||OL||Knee||out for season - 10/12/12|
|Marshall Musil||FB||Knee||out for season - 10/12/12|
|Jaz Reynolds||WR||Suspension||out for season - 10/12/12|
|Chaz Nelson||DE||Knee||Out indefinitely - 10/12/12|
|Trey Franks||DB||Suspension||out for season - 10/12/12|
|Tyler Evans||OL||Knee||out for season - 8/7/12|
Key Storyline: Making History
The Sooners are 10-0 all-time when facing the Bears in Norman. For Baylor to pull off this stunning upset, Florence and the rest of the remaining Baylor squad will have to draw on a 2009 loss as motivation.
Florence was the starter after Robert Griffin III went down with an injury, and he couldn't bring the Bears a victory as they lost 33-7. In what would be one of the school's biggest upsets of all-time, Baylor will have to play mistake-free football just to have a chance to contend with Oklahoma.
The Sooners are currently No. 12 in the BCS rankings, and depending on what happens with No. 2 Kansas State the rest of the way, they have an outside shot at crashing the BCS party. This game is a must-win if OU wants to remain a dark-horse BCS challenger.
Baylor cracked the Top 25 earlier in the year after a 3-0 start, but four consecutive losses took them out of any real BCS dreams. With only four games remaining, Baylor has a rough go just to become bowl eligible.
What They're Saying
When these two teams last met, it was Baylor who torched OU's secondary behind Robert Griffin III's Heisman-defining moment. He continually led receivers behind the Sooner defense, and was able to give his team a 45-38 win.
OU safety Javon Harris was bench following that game last season. You can bet he's got some revenge to dish out, per this report by Jason Kersey of News OK.
“Man, back in two-a-days, I used to watch the Baylor game every day. ... It's nothing new to me. I can tell you front and back, left, right, every call that happened in that game."
Baylor got the ground game going against Kansas is a Week 10 win, so you can bet the Sooners will try and return this offense to the one-dimensional monster it was prior to that game. Josh Friemel has the scoop for The Dallas Morning News.
"In the previous four games, all of which were losses, the Baylor offense had an average of 283 more yards passing than rushing. Baylor is above average when it comes to the passing game, but when the other team knows that the running game is a non-factor it can key in on the passing game. That didn’t happen tonight and Baylor came out victorious."
Player to Watch for Baylor: QB Nick Florence
Florence has been great for the majority of 2012, already throwing for over 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns with four games to play. But he's also had struggles, and turned the ball over with regularity during this team's four-game losing streak.
Part of that has to do with Baylor's non-existent running game, but Florence will have to play a sparkling game like he did against West Virginia for the Bears to pull this one out. He was the starter when this team lost in 2009, and he'll have one more chance to go out on a high note with Baylor's first ever win in Norman.
Player to Watch for Oklahoma: S Javon Harris
You saw it in the earlier section, but Harris is on a mission. Griffin torched the secondary in OU's loss last season. Florence has the ability to do it again, with WR Terrence Williams helping to lead a passing attack that's one of the best in the Big 12.
Harris and the secondary must find ways to limit big plays against Williams, Tevin Reese and Linear Sampson. Baylor has the scheme and the QB to score at will, and if the OU defense allows the Bears to jump out to an early advantage, it could turn into a shootout in Norman.
Key Matchup: Baylor Front Seven vs. OU Running Game
One way OU will likely attack Baylor is through the running game. They rank just 49th in the nation, but in wins over Texas Tech, Texas and Iowa State last week, the running game was there from start to finish.
The running back-by-committee approach continues in Norman, and it was Brennan Clay who handled the load against the Cyclones. Dominique Whaley and Damian Williams will also see carries against a very poor Baylor defense that allowed Texas to run for 250 yards in an earlier loss.
Running the ball will be key, and it will also help keep Florence and this offense off the field. That might not matter, as they can score in bunches, but if OU commands this game in the trenches Baylor will have a hard time scoring every possession against a very fast Sooner defense.
On the Hotseat: Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk
He's not in danger of losing his job; Seastrunk is aiming to prove it's always been his to lose after an impressive performance in the win over Kansas. The Oregon transfer and Texas native hasn't done much this year, but accounted for 194 yards and a receiving touchdown against the Jayhawks last week.
It's clear he gives the running game the best chance to be successful. Baylor needs that running game to diffuse some of the pressure on the QB, and Seastrunk is fully capable of breaking the big play at any moment. If he struggles, Jared Salubi and Glasco Martin are waiting in the wings.
As a huge favorite, OU could use a big win to help sway voters and the bowl selection committees come December. But Baylor's offense is no slouch.
This one is much closer than people think, but in the end the athletes at OU overmatch Baylor down the stretch. Both offenses have a field day, but it's the Sooners that hold on late behind a good day from one of their backs.
Oklahoma 48, Baylor 42
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report and a member of the site's Breaking News Team.
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