Oklahoma Sooners Football: 5 Keys to Victory over No. 22 Baylor
For the Oklahoma Sooners, performing at a high level in their three remaining regular season contests is crucial for their chances of playing in New Orleans for the national championship.
Robert Griffin III is a man possessed, and the Baylor Bears present an interesting yet surmountable obstacle to the Crimson and Cream's quest for another Big 12 Championship and possibly more.
The Bears, playing in primetime on their home field, have a legitimate chance to spoil OU's season for good, but as long as the Sooners execute in all three phases of the game, they should depart Floyd Casey Stadium with a victory.
That brings us to the issue of how, specifically, the Sooners can have success against RG3 and Co. Here are the five areas OU should focus on to remain perfect on the road and garner momentum for the looming Bedlam contest with Oklahoma State.
5. Get off to a Quick Start
Although they have played well on the road this year, the Sooners have had problems with slow starts away from home recently.
Asserting themselves early and taking the crowd out of the game will be very important for OU to have success in Waco.
Landry Jones and Co. are Jekyll and Hyde-ish at times, putting together a beautiful drive on one possession while looking sluggish and going three-and-out on another.
If the offense scores early, the OU defense will gain confidence and Baylor will find themselves under tremendous pressure early.
Likewise, a defensive stand by Oklahoma on the Bears' first possession will ease the tension a bit for Jones and the offense and give them the confidence they need.
4. Show Variety on Defense
For the OU defense to have success, it must take RG3 out of his element and force him to make mistakes.
To do this, the Sooners should show balance and diversity defensively, pressuring Griffin with a variety of blitzes and employing multiple coverage schemes.
OU shouldn't rely too heavily on the blitz, though; Griffin is a highly dangerous and elusive runner and could punish the Sooners by escaping pressure, and screen passes likewise could make OU pay for being overly aggressive.
3. Control Time of Possession
RG3 is putting on the best show Baylor fans have seen in a very long time. He is completing 74.2 percent of his passes and has thrown for over 3,000 yards with 29 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Baylor is also averaging over 40 points per game, 11th highest in the country.
OU's defense should be able to find ways to slow down the Bear attack, but to have sustained success overall, the Sooners will have to keep Griffin and his offense off the field and generate an advantage in time of possession. No matter how good Griffin is, he can't score points from the bench.
2. Stick to the Fundamentals Offensively
Although the Bears tout an offensive juggernaut, their defensive ineptitude compensates for the fireworks show Griffin and Co. put on week-in and week-out.
Baylor ranks 110th in total yards allowed, yielding an astonishing 458.2 yards and 36 points per game. That explains why they aren't in the national title race.
Consequently, OU shouldn't try to do anything fancy offensively; as long as they employ a healthy balance of run and pass and protect the ball, they will almost certainly have success against the helpless Baylor defense.
1. Stay Aggressive
Considering the way several other recent OU games have progressed, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Sooners jump out to an early lead and then nurse it lazily for the rest of the game, doing just enough to prevent Baylor from pulling ahead.
This is exactly what Bob Stoops cannot allow. The season is winding down, and OU still has an outside chance at reaching the national championship game.
In a nationally televised, primetime contest, AP voters will expect OU to be polished and consistent. To keep their dreams of New Orleans alive, Oklahoma has to execute at a high level for 60 minutes, nothing less.
There is very little margin for error for the team many expected to win the national title at the beginning of the season.