Oklahoma at Baylor
November 6, 2013
By Joe Nelson
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Oregon at Stanford
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After a couple of weeks of mediocre Thursday night action, this week’s schedule rivals Saturday’s with two of the biggest games of the weekend. The national landscape will feel a heavy impact with the Thursday night results just as last season two later evening games on Nov. 17 involving three of these teams changed everything with No. 2 Kansas State blown out at Baylor and Stanford upsetting No. 1 Oregon in overtime.
Oklahoma at Baylor
Matchup: Oklahoma Sooners at Baylor Bears
Venue: Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas (synthetic turf)
Time/TV: 7:30 p.m. ET – FS1
Line: Baylor -15, Over/Under 72½
Last Meeting: 2012 at Oklahoma, Oklahoma (-21½) 42-34
Undefeated Baylor is sixth in the current BCS standings but with a win this week they would likely move up to at least fifth as one of the top 5 teams has to lose later in the evening. There are several teams Baylor would need to leap to get BCS title game consideration but all of that talk is far premature as the Baylor has five weeks of tough games left on the schedule with a back-loaded slate this season. After this week’s huge home date with Oklahoma the Bears will play three straight away games against quality competition before closing the season at home against Texas.
Art Briles deserves tremendous credit for the turnaround at Baylor. He was a rising star in the coaching ranks after success at Houston and many felt he was crazy for taking a turn on what most felt was a dead end at Baylor when other more appealing opportunities would likely have come available to him. After two 4-8 seasons things turned around in 2010 with a bowl appearance and then the magnificent 2011 season brought Baylor 10 wins including an Alamo Bowl title and a finish in the top 15 of the national rankings. Most expected a big drop last season with Nick Florence replacing Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III but the Bears were a very competitive 8-5 team, featuring wins over then #2 Kansas State, Oklahoma State, and a Holiday Bowl rout over UCLA. This season many expected a further fall with another new quarterback but it has not happened yet.
Baylor’s 7-0 start has featured light competition with only wins over West Virginia and at Kansas State delivering any credibility. Baylor has not just won games however; they are posting outrageous numbers and proving to be one of the toughest offenses in the nation to match up against. The Bears have posted 720 yards per game on 9.1 yards per play while scoring nearly 64 points per game. Baylor leads the nation in all three of those categories and they have covered in all but one game, winning by 31 or more points in every game except for the win at Kansas State. Quarterback Bryce Petty has smoothly stepped in to run the offense as he has passed for at least 310 yards in every game, throwing for 18 touchdowns against just one interception.
The emergence of Baylor and the high scoring potential has provided one of the more dramatic line shifts from one year to the next. Oklahoma was favored by over three touchdowns last season hosting the Bears and this year the line has shifted more than five touchdowns. This is not a struggling Oklahoma team as the Sooners are 7-1 with only a 16-point loss against Texas as a blemish this season. Oklahoma has not been a dominant performer, as they have only scored 31 points per game this season but the defense has been good and the Sooners do have a quality win at Notre Dame this season as well as four Big XII wins.
The Sooners have been more reliant on the run this season as the numbers in the passing game have dropped substantially compared with the prolific numbers under Landry Jones or Sam Bradford the past few years. Quarterback Blake Bell was presumed to be the starter heading into the season but it was Trevor Knight that won the job this fall. Bell has since come back to replace Knight after the Sooners struggled in the first two weeks. Bell has only once passed for more than 250 yards this season and he has thrown just four touchdowns in Big XII play this season. Bell is a threat on the ground and Oklahoma is rushing for 234 yards per game this season on 5.2 yards per rush but the numbers are way down offensively for the program compared to the past three seasons.
Since Bob Stoops took over the Oklahoma program in 1999 they have been an underdog of more than 10 points just twice. Once came in the 13-2 BCS Championship win over Florida State following the 2000 season and the other instance came against the eventual BCS champion Texas Longhorns in the 2005 season. Thursday’s spread against Baylor will be larger than in either of those two games and Oklahoma has lost to Baylor S/U just once ever, two years ago in a seven-point defeat in Waco.
Last Meeting: After losing to Baylor in 2011, Oklahoma was ready for the matchup last season, storming out to a 28-17 halftime lead. The Bears were within two halfway through the third quarter but they failed on a two-point conversion trying to tie the game and Oklahoma pulled away from there in the 42-34 win, though the heavy underdog Bears easily covered. Oklahoma only out-gained Baylor by 36 yards but they also had two turnovers compared to none for the Bears.
Series History: Oklahoma is 18-1 S/U in the series since 1984 but just 10-9 ATS with Baylor covering in seven of the last 10 meetings. Oklahoma is 3-1 ATS in the last four trips to Waco however.
Line Movement: The line has moved up from -14 to -15 on the high scoring Bears with the total also climbing from 72 to 72½
Oklahoma Historical Trends: Under Stoops Oklahoma is 6-3 ATS as a road underdog including covering in four of the last five instances. It has not happened since late in the 2011 season when Oklahoma lost 44-10 at Oklahoma State. Oklahoma has only been an underdog of more than touchdown three times since Stoops took over in 1999. The Sooners have won seven straight road games S/U, winning every game this season and last season on the road but they are just 9-12 ATS on the road since 2009.
Baylor Historical Trends: Baylor has been on a roll as a home favorite, going 14-4 ATS since 2010 with only one S/U loss in that role. Since Briles took over Baylor is 26-10 S/U at home with a 23-12 ATS record, covering in 16 of 18 home games since 2011. Baylor is also 12-3 ATS in the last 15 instances playing as a double-digit favorite.