Sam Bradford Back for Oklahoma Vs. Baylor Bears: Sooners Open Defense of Big 12

Sooners ExaminerContributor IOctober 10, 2009

When you've been to the Promised Land, and tasted the milk and honey, water and crackers aren't so hot.

The No. 19 Oklahoma Sooners begin their annual journey into Big 12 land today against the unranked Baylor Bears.

Kickoff: 2:30 PM

Location: Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, OK

TV:  ABC, sent to 19 percent of nation

Weather: Mostly sunny, 58 degrees, light NE wind

Odds Are:  Oklahoma opened as a 24-point favorite. The Sooners are currently a 28-point favorite. The over/under is 54 and has remained steadily at that number all week.

The Sooners, decimated by injuries to three key players and still breaking in an almost-new offensive line and a young receiving corps, have played in three of the past six BCS national championship games. Heading into Big 12 play, their BCS title game chances face the equivalent of 4th-and-65.

Sooner Nation expects Oklahoma (2-2) to be bolstered by the return of Heisman-winning quarterback Sam Bradford. The junior suffered a grade three (most severe) sprain of his right (throwing) shoulder Sept. 5 near halftime of a season-opening 14-13 loss to BYU.

Bradford will try to work through the severe soreness he is still experiencing, a pain that, ironically, reportedly only goes away when he's throwing.

Redshirt freshman QB Landry Jones jumped into Bradford's big shoes, performing admirably and giving Sooner Head Coach Bob Stoops confidence that the quarterback position is in good future hands.  

Baylor's quarterback position has seen even more turnover than Oklahoma's.

First, star sophomore signal caller Robert Griffin III went down with a knee injury. Then, senior backup Blake Szymanski missed last week's 31-15 victory over Kent State with a shoulder injury. The Bears (3-1) are tight-lipped about whether Szymanski or freshman Nick Florence will be under center against Oklahoma.

Florence was 20-for-27 for 216 yards with no interceptions and no touchdowns against Kent State. He was sacked twice and his longest completion totaled 44 yards. He rushed for 60 yards and scored two TDs. The Bears were outgained by Kent State, 424-374. Kent State committed three turnovers, the Bears one.

Oklahoma leads the all-time series, 18-0. The Sooners won last season in Waco, 49-17. That game also marked the Big 12 opener for Oklahoma.

Bradford threw for 372 yards and two touchdowns in the "trap" game before then No. 1 Oklahoma's next game against No. 5 Texas in the Red River Shootout in Dallas. The Longhorns knocked off the Sooners, 45-35.

In the past three seasons (2007, 2008, and 2009), the Sooners are 3-6 in games decided by 10 points or less and 4-6 in contests decided in the fourth quarter.

Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson and defensive coordinator Brent Venables were blistered this week by some of Sooner Nation, following the team's frustrating 21-20 loss at Miami last Saturday night.

Stoops, and some of the few players the Sooners allow to meet with the media, came to the defense of the coordinators. Wilson was criticized for conservative play calling, especially late in the fourth quarter when the Sooners got close enough to only kick a field goal to pull within one point.

Venables took heat for the defense's inability to stop, at key points, Miami's fast and balanced attack. Venables was also condemned for seemingly being ineffective in making adjustments to Miami's underneath passing game, especially to tight ends and slot receivers.

The Sooners have won six of the last nine Big 12 Championships and seven of nine South Division titles.

It's not milk and honey, but a meal of water and crackers might taste awfully good to the Sooners about now.

Game preview: Dallas Morning News

Game preview: ESPN

No Sooner Fan Fest due to wet grounds

OU reemphasizing bag policy at stadium gates

Oklahoma will begin crackdown on unlicensed goods


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