The Baylor Bears for years have been known as the laughingstock of the Big 12 conference. Every year, people circle that game on their calendars knowing that no matter how the season is going, they can almost guarantee a win against the Bears.
That has all changed in 2010. Baylor came into Saturday's game against Oklahoma at 7-4, on their way to their first bowl game in 16 years.
Unfortunately, things didn't look any different on the field for the Bears. Oklahoma shook off all manner of road woes in a 53-24 shellacking of Baylor Saturday night in Waco.
The Sooners started fast, 21 points in the first quarter and racing to a commanding 34-7 lead at halftime. The offense looked spectacular, but it was also against the nation's 97th ranked defense.
However, the defense was the story of this game. Baylor, while horrific on offense, came into Saturday's contest as the ninth ranked offense in the country and averaging 34 points a game. First half totals for the Bears: 133 yards and seven points and two turnovers.
Ok, ok, ok. A lot of people are still saying, "Well it's Baylor. Don't put a lot of weight in this showing."
I will agree with that argument to a certain extent.
It's true that OU has absolutely dominated Baylor throughout history. With Saturday's win, the Sooners moved to 20-0 all time against the Bears. Also, OU caught Baylor at a bad time, coming off two losses, one a blowout in Stillwater against Oklahoma State and last week, a disheartening home loss to Texas A&M in which the Bears blew a 30-14 lead to lose 42-30.
However, I would say that this performance was a huge confidence booster for the Sooners.
First, it was a win on the road, something the Sooners had done in conference play once in the past two seasons, a 35-13 victory over Kansas last year. Any win on the road is huge when you have those kind of struggles.
Second, while the offense had their way all night with the Baylor defense, it was really the Oklahoma defense that set the tone in this game early. The first half stats noted above speak for themselves.
Specifically though, in the first couple of series that decided the game pretty much. The first possession of the game for Baylor resulted in a punt after losing a yard over three plays. The second possession was a fourth and one stand for the Sooners as linebacker Austin Box stonewalled running back Jay Finley at the line of scrimmage and drove him backwards.
OU scored four plays later.
Third possession was another punt, and then, after OU's first punt of the game, Baylor returner Krys Buerck muffed it and the Sooners recovered on Baylor's eight-yard line.
Roy Finch spun into the end zone on a nifty run on the next play and the route was on.
Dismiss it all you want, but this game easily could have been a shootout. OU only came in a seven point favorites and the Baylor offense had been putting up points on everyone all year. But the Oklahoma defense came up with a huge and impressive performance against one of the best offenses in the country.
As the numbers on the scoreboard steadily (or exponentially) climbed in favor of OU, you could just feel a huge sigh of relief go up from the huge contingent of OU fans at Floyd Casey Stadium. Oklahoma had proved it could win on the road, and not only win, but dominate.
Now the Sooners turn to Bedlam in Stillwater where it will most certainly be the underdog coming in. This could be one of the biggest games in the history of Bedlam and OSU will be up for it in a big way.
Do the Sooners have it in them to get yet another win on the road and punch their ticket to the Big 12 Championship game? We'll soon find out.