While it’s no secret that the Oklahoma offense has been comical thus far, the Baylor defense may have just transformed it into one of the biggest punch lines of the year Thursday night.
The Bears (8-0, 5-0) extended their perfect season, handing the Sooners (7-2, 4-2) their fourth-worst loss under Bob Stoops watch, 41-12. Baylor baffled the Oklahoma offense all night, limiting the unit to just 237 yards of total offense—the team’s worst output since a loss to Colorado in 2007.
What was supposed to be the Bears’ biggest test of the season, quickly turned into nothing more than an open-book pop quiz.
But that’s not to take away from the performance the team’s defense put on. On Thursday night, the unit was downright masterful.
For the first time all season, Baylor had to rely on its defense to assert itself early.
Three times within the game’s first 20 minutes, the Oklahoma offense moved inside the Bears’ 40. Twice, the unit even plowed inside the 10-yard line.
However, all the Sooners could muster was a turnover on downs, a field goal and a missed field goal.
The Bears offense—after being held to just three points in the first quarter—picked up from there, rattling off 21-unanswered points to close out the half.
But while we already recognize the potency of the Baylor offense, it’s time we started giving the defense its props too.
Through eight games, the unit ranks No. 6 in scoring (15.4 PPG), No. 9 in total defense (306.1 YPG), No. 26 against the run (132.3 YPG) and No. 6 against the pass (173.9 YPG). Furthermore, the Bears rank No. 3 in pass efficiency defense, limiting opposing quarterbacks to a rating of just 93.2.
That was all put on full display Thursday night, as Oklahoma couldn’t get a single thing going in their favor on offense.
Entering this game, the team’s strength was its rushing attack. The Sooners averaged a little over 220 yards per game, including topping 200 yards in four of its last five contests.
But on Thursday night, the team was held under 100 rushing yards for the first time this season, managing just 87 yards on 34 carries (2.6 YPC). In fact, not a single running back topped 40 yards on the ground.
Quarterback Blake Bell didn’t fare too well either.
The junior threw for an unimpressive 150 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions on 15-of-35 passing. He finished with an unadjusted QBR of 5.9 (scale 0 to 100).
Surprisingly, it wasn’t even Bell’s worst performance of the season. He registered an unadjusted QBR of 4.2 in a loss to Texas Oct. 12, giving him two of the four worst QBR game performances of the Big 12. Not to mention, Bell has struggled as of late, failing to top 160 yards passing in four of his last five games while throwing five touchdowns and five interceptions in that span.
All things considered, it was only expected that the Oklahoma offense would become the laughing stock of the Twittersphere on Thursday:
The Oklahoma offense is not a train wreck, which requires someone who actually knows how to operate a train.— Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) November 8, 2013
Oklahoma's offense. That's it. That's the joke.— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) November 8, 2013
The way Oklahoma's offense is playing, I think Baylor could score 50 and you'd still feel like #Sooners D put on a serviceable performance.— Josh McCuistion (@JLMcCuistion) November 8, 2013
Smart move by Baylor to put Oklahoma's offense back on the field.— Fake Dan Beebe (@DanBeebe) November 8, 2013
But all jokes aside, this was still a Sooners offense that came in averaging well over 400 yards and 31.0 points per game.
Shutting the unit down like Baylor did is pretty darn impressive. It’s praise worthy, even.
But is it BCS title contender worthy?
Over the years, it’s been a proven fact that you need a great defense to walk away with that coveted crystal football. In fact, six of the last seven BCS champions ranked in the top 10 in total defense.
|Total Defense Ranking of Last 7 BCS Champs|
|Year||BCS Champion||Total Defense (Ranking)|
|2012||Alabama||250.0 YPG (1)|
|2011||Alabama||183.6 YPG (1)|
|2010||Auburn||368.4 YPG (60)|
|2009||Alabama||245.4 YPG (2)|
|2008||Florida||285.3 YPG (9)|
|2007||LSU||288.8 YPG (3)|
|2006||Florida||255.4 YPG (6)|
And although some critics and media alike (myself included) questioned the superiority of the defense up to this point, the Bears did their best to prove the doubters wrong. In convincing fashion, might it be said.
After Thursday night’s events, it’s quite evident that Baylor has the defense that can win championships.
The fact that the team also happens to boast the nation’s most-potent offense is just an added bonus.
All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of NCAA.com.