Norman, OK – The Baylor Bears make the trek to Norman for this Saturday's Big 12 Conference showdown with the 14th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners.
Talk about a team at polar opposites when it comes to performing in all phases of the game, the Bears are the most potent offensive club in the country, while at the same time ranking dead last in the FBS in total defense. The offense won out last weekend, as BU snapped a three-game losing streak by throttling the visiting Kansas Jayhawks in a 41-14 final. The win was the Bears' first in conference this season, while evening their overall record at 4-4. Only 0-6 Kansas sits behind them in the Big 12 standings.
Oklahoma is 6-2 on the year, and the team has won four of its five conference clashes, the most recent of which being a 35-20 decision at Iowa State last Saturday. The Sooners trail undefeated Kansas State in the race for the Big 12 title, and their lone league loss came against the Wildcats (24-19) back on Sept. 22. OU is just 2-2 at home this season, with its last bout in Norman resulting in a 30-13 loss to Notre Dame two weeks ago.
Oklahoma has dominated Baylor over the years, winning 20 of the previous 21 meetings. The Bears' only win came last year when Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III led BU to a dramatic 45-38 victory in Waco.
With the nation's leader in total offense at the helm, Baylor averages a robust 581.5 ypg and puts up nearly 44 ppg as a result. Nick Florence accounts for 412.3 ypg all by himself, as he has amassed 3,019 passing yards and another 351 rushing. He has 25 TD passes against 11 interceptions, and Terrance Williams has clearly been his go-to guy, the 6-2 senior hauling in 71 balls for 1,340 yards and 10 scores. The BU run game features four guys who have gained at least 279 yards and have combined for 15 TDs.
The Baylor defense has been absolutely horrific this season, giving up just shy of 40 ppg with foes rolling up 200.6 ypg on the ground and 326.6 ypg via the pass. The Bears allow an average of three passing TDs per outing, and they've recorded only 10 sacks and 14 turnovers. Bryce Hager and Ahmad Dixon sit atop the team's tackles list with 73 each, while Terrance Lloyd and Chris McAllister have three sacks apiece.
Florence is coming off another monster effort in last week's manhandling of Kansas, throwing for 367 yards and three TDs, while RB Lache Seastrunk generated 194 yards and a score and RB Glasco Martin became Baylor's first 100-yard rusher of the season by tallying a career-high 157 yards on just 11 carries. Florence added 32 yards and a TD on the ground for the Bears, while hitting Williams 11 times for 137 yards and a score. When the dust had settled, the Bears had accumulated 666 yards of total offense compared to 342 for the Jayhawks, only 96 of which came by way of the pass.
Sam Holl led the Baylor stand with 11 tackles, and collectively the team logged two sacks and came away with a pair of interceptions, all while permitting Kansas just 2-of-13 success on third-down conversion attempts and holding it scoreless on two trips to the red zone.
The 96 passing yards allowed to the Jayhawks were the fewest for the BU defense since Colorado managed just 75 in a triple-overtime game played in Boulder back in 2006. It also marked the first time the Bears hadn't allowed a passing TD in 12 games.
Baylor head coach Art Briles was happy his team was finally able to put it all together after what had seemed like an eternity since last doing so.
"On behalf of the team and the coaching staff, what a relief. We feel like we have been carrying a burden the last three or four weeks, so its a relief to go out there and play well. Defensively, offensively, and special teams played well tonight."
Putting points on the board hasn't been a problem for Oklahoma this season, the team currently ranking 15th in the nation with a scoring average of 39.5 ppg. QB Landry Jones is a 65 percent passer who averages 301.8 ypg and has thrown for 16 TDs versus only six interceptions. Kenny Stills has been the Sooners' top weapon down the field, as he has caught 51 balls for 649 yards and six scores, while the OU run game features the talents of guys like Damien Williams (90 carries, 588 yards, seven TDs) and Brennan Clay (54 carries, 372 yards, four TDs). Overall, the team produces 488.8 ypg, has turned the ball over only 11 times, and the offensive line has surrendered just a dozen sacks.
Unfortunately, the defense hasn't made a ton of big plays in coming up with only 11 takeaways, including just two fumbles. Still, the Sooners are allowing a mere 17.8 ppg behind typical outputs of 142.9 ypg rushing and 170.0 ypg passing. They've notched just 37 TFL, but 17 of them have been sacks. Tony Jefferson is the leading tackler with 68, which is almost twice as many as his closest teammate -- Javon Harris (40 stops), who happens to lead the team with four picks.
Iowa State stood its ground against the Sooners last week, playing to a standstill through the opening quarter. But Oklahoma would take a 14-6 lead into halftime and then open things up in the second half en route to a double- digit win on the road. Jones completed 32-of-45 passes for 405 yards with four TDs and two interceptions, as receivers Justin Brown, Stills, Sterling Shepard and Jalen Saunders combined for 22 grabs, 330 yards and all four scores. Brennan was OU's workhorse out of the backfield as he turned 24 carries into 157 yards and a TD.
The Sooners held strong against the run last week, permitting just 99 net rushing yards on 24 attempts. Their effort against the pass wasn't too bad either, with the Cyclones throwing for 191 yards with an interception. The Oklahoma defense was on the field for less than 24 minutes, sacked Iowa State QB Steele Jantz three times, and held the home team to 5-of-14 success on third-down conversion attempts. Jefferson finished with a team-high nine tackles.
Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops had plenty of positives to draw from following the big win at Iowa State.
"I thought Landry Jones was exceptional and had a huge day. Brennan Clay had a huge day as well. I thought our offensive line was really good and our protection was good. Defensively, I thought we were really good for most of the day."