Baylor vs. Oklahoma: 10 Things We Learned in the Bears' Win over the Sooners
The Baylor Bears should be considered as one of the best teams in the entire nation.
A 41-12 dismantling of the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners was fascinating to watch. It was Baylor's defense that set the tone on the evening. Oklahoma's offense was rendered useless for the majority of the night.
At this point, it's not a stretch to say that Baylor is unequivocally the best team in the Big 12. It's also not out of the realm of possibilities to say that Oklahoma was a bit overrated.
Here's 10 things we learned from Baylor's big win over Oklahoma.
Penalties Hurt Both Teams
On the night, the two teams combined for 26 penalties and 221 penalty yards.
Baylor in particular was undisciplined at the beginning of the contest. In the first half, two Ahmad Dixon penalties directly led to an Oklahoma field goal.
Oklahoma committed 14 penalties on the night. A majority of those were momentum killers and took Oklahoma from third-and-short situations into third-and-long conversion attempts. The Sooners basically shot themselves in the proverbial foot.
It was a big reason as to why Oklahoma couldn't sustain any rhythm on offense Thursday night.
Trey Millard Was Missed Tonight
Trey Millard is the best offensive player on Oklahoma's roster.
He doesn't put up gaudy numbers, but he does all of the little things to help Oklahoma's offense function well. His versatility as a blocker, receiver and runner essentially makes him the security blanket for the Oklahoma signal-callers.
With Millard tearing knee ligaments a few weeks ago, his absence tonight was immense. Oklahoma looked utterly lost at times offensively. There were substitution problems, and a relative lack of crispness with the mechanics of executing a play.
It's not a certainty that Oklahoma would have won with Millard healthy. However, the team would have had a much better shot at being successful with Millard in tow.
Bryce Petty Was the Galvanizing Force Tonight
In the second quarter, Baylor was trailing by a score of 5-3.
The offense was struggling to run the football. As a result, the pass attack was lacking from a success standpoint. Art Briles made the adjustment to involve Bryce Petty in the read option game.
It worked perfectly. The signal-caller was the fulcrum of success tonight.
Petty's involvement on the ground propelled Baylor in the second quarter. He, along with Shock Linwood led Baylor down the field en route to scoring 28 unanswered points. He rushed for two touchdowns on the night, both of which coming in the second quarter. He finished with 45 yards rushing on 16 carries.
Petty also threw for 204 yards and three touchdowns.
Injuries on Both Sides
Injuries on both sides impacted the game.
Oklahoma receiver and top target Sterling Shepard was knocked out of the game by Baylor defensive back K.J. Morton in the first half. His absence from the game really hurt Oklahoma on offense. Aside from Jalen Saunders, there was no skill position player to stretch the field vertically.
As for Baylor, it lost three of its top offensive players.
Running backs Glasco Martin and Lache Seastrunk both left with injuries. Martin left with a right knee injury and did not return after the first quarter. Seastrunk was slowed with a groin injury and played sparingly after the middle of the second quarter.
Receiver Tevin Reese left the game and did not return with a wrist injury. Also during the game, All-American guard Cyril Richardson was nicked up for a spell.
Baylor was able to withstand the injuries and still score over 40 points.
Baylor's Offensive Depth Is Startling
With the injuries on offense, it's astounding that Baylor was able to score 41 points and put up 459 yards of total offense.
Receiver Tevin Reese did not register a catch on the night. Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin combined for only 32 yards rushing on 12 carries.
The likes of Antwan Goodley, Levi Norwood, Clay Fuller and Shock Linwood carried the team offensively tonight. The quartet all picked up the proverbial slack and showed the depth that Baylor possesses on the offensive side of the football.
Oklahoma's Play-Calling Was Bizarre
The play-calling by offensive coordinator Josh Heupel was peculiar throughout the night.
In the first half, the former OU quarterback didn't put current quarterback Blake Bell in good positions for success. There weren't a lot of opportunities for high percentage throws.
In the red zone, slow developing run plays with Bell and Trevor Knight didn't have any success. The play-calling was predictable and unimaginative.
During the third quarter, the Sooners went to an uptempo style and exploited the perimeter. Oklahoma had its two best drives of the game by pushing the tempo and giving Bell quick throws to execute.
Why this didn't happen earlier in the game, is a complete mystery.
Shock Linwood Came to Play
Shock Linwood, take a bow.
Linwood has a low center of gravity. As a result, he's equipped with great balance as a runner. He's also got a great combination of power and quickness. He repeatedly gashed Oklahoma's defense with deft vision. With Martin and Seastrunk injured, Linwood stepped up for his team in a big way.
It's safe to say that Baylor's third-string back is better than anyone else's third-string back. On the season, Linwood has rushed for 625 yards.
Baylor's Defense Is for Real
Oklahoma came into this game averaging 435 yards of offense per game.
Baylor, known more for its offense, was allowing only 15.9 points per game heading into Thursday's tilt. Baylor held Oklahoma to 237 total yards of offense, almost 200 below its season average.
The Sooners could not sustain any semblance of a rhythm on offense. The Bears were flying around the field, making the requisite tackles and avoiding the big play. Oklahoma's longest play on the night was only 28 yards.
Linebacker Eddie Lackey and safety Ahmad Dixon were the two leaders on the night. Each popped up regularly on the screen, making play after play.
The nation didn't know how good Baylor's defense truly was. The Bears displayed against Oklahoma that defensive coordinator Phil Bennett's unit is for real.
Blake Bell Isn't the Answer Going Forward
Blake Bell is not the long-term answer at quarterback for the Oklahoma program.
Tonight was a microcosm of Bell's career in Norman. For as talented as he can be, it doesn't appear as if that talent will truly be realized. Bell is still somewhat raw as a passer. His accuracy was off on intermediate to long passes, and he doesn't display much precision and touch on his throws.
He does display good leadership skills and has good intangibles. However, his passing game leaves a lot to be desired.
It'll be interesting to see how Trevor Knight figures into the mix as the season progresses.
Baylor Is for Real
Some have questioned Baylor, and how good the team truly is. The schedule up to this point hasn't been the strongest.
Baylor thrashed a top 10 team on Thursday. Any questions about this team have been answered, including on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. The offense has loads of depth from a skill position standpoint. It has a quarterback that can make plays with both his arm and legs.
The defense also proved to be much better than some possibly thought. Art Briles' team belongs in the upper echelon of college football. With Oregon losing to Stanford, this team could climb up as high as No. 4 in the BCS standings.
This win was a stepping stone for the Baylor program. It dismantled a problem synonymous with constantly winning in the Big 12. Entering this game, Baylor was 1-21 all-time against the Sooners.
This quote by Ahmad Dixon says it all...