After closing out the home slate of their schedule this past Saturday, the Oklahoma Sooners hit the road for the last two games of the regular season, beginning with a trip down to Waco to play the Baylor Bears.
Oklahoma finished the season at home undefeated for the fifth consecutive season and extended the nation's longest home winning streak to 36 games.
It's unfortunate that Oklahoma won't be at home again until next September because as you can see, they're pretty darn good there.
Instead, the Sooners have two games away from the friendly confines of Owen Field, something they have not handled very well so far this season.
The Sooners have lost their last two games on the road against Missouri and Texas A&M and are looking to reverse that trend (and answer the avalanche of questions surrounding their struggles on the road). So great was focus emphasized in practice this week, head coach Bob Stoops blocked all but five players from talking to the media.
I'm not sure if this is a simple way to keep the players focused or a stance saying that the team CAN'T keep their focus without avoiding the media's storm of inquiries.
We'll find out if the strategy worked on Saturday evening when the Sooners face the Bears.
Baylor is in the midst of their most successful season in 15 years. They are bowl eligible and have one of the best offenses in college football, led by redshirt sophomore quarterback Robert Griffin.
The Bears come into the game with a 7-4 record, but have lost their last two after being atop the Big 12 South standings for several weeks during the middle of the season.
Offensively, the Bears are loaded and explosive. Averaging over 33 points and almost 490 yards of offense a game, the offense ranks as the ninth best in the country.
Griffin leads the Bears from the quarterback position. One year after tearing his ACL and missing the last nine games of the season, Griffin is back and has established himself as one of the premier quarterbacks in the conference and in the country.
Griffin has passed for over 3,000 yards this year to go along with 20 touchdowns to only six interceptions. He is the first quarterback in Baylor history to go over 3,000 yards in a season. Griffin is also extremely fleet of foot, having run for 508 yards and another eight touchdowns.
Senior Jay Finley leads the rushing attack for Baylor, having accumulated 1,073 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season. Baylor ranks 24th in the country, averaging almost 200 yards per game on the ground.
The Bears have many fast and capable wide receivers, led by junior Kendall Wright. Wright and Griffin have had a connection since their freshman year two seasons ago. Wright has 63 catches for 798 yards and six touchdowns.
Terrance Williams, Lanear Sampson, Josh Gordon, and Tevin Reese round out the receiving corps, all of whom have at least 34 catches on the season.
Defensively, the Bears have struggled mightily. They have not been able to contain the explosive offenses and have given up a lot of yards and a lot of points in conference play.
Byron Landor is the unquestioned leader of this defense. The senior safety has racked up over 100 tackles on the year and plays some tough football. Tim Atchison, the other safety, also is a standout on defense.
Chris Francis, Antonio Johnson, and Tevin Elliot lead a solid linebacking corps in the middle, while Phil Taylor and Nicolas Jean-Baptiste anchor the defensive line.
Floyd Casey Stadium is hardly an intimidating place to play, but it's been a very long time since the Bears enjoyed a primetime game on the ESPN networks at home, so the crowd is going to be excited.
OU needs to start fast and score early and often against a weak Baylor defense to take any inkling of a crowd factor out. The defense also needs to make some stops to prevent this from turning into a shootout.
If OU can do that, this one could be a laugher. If they don't, Baylor could easily be celebrating their first ever win over Oklahoma.
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