Baylor-Oklahoma Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 06, 2012
Oklahoma had never been beaten by Baylor before suffering a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Robert Griffin III nearly a year ago. The 14th-ranked Sooners could resume their dominating ways in this series with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner no longer around. Oklahoma tries to improve to 11-0 all-time against high-scoring Baylor in Norman as these Big 12 rivals square off Saturday. After losing all 20 previous matchups against Oklahoma, including 12 straight by an average of 30.0 points, Baylor finally broke through last Nov. 19 with a 45-38 home victory. Griffin passed for 479 yards and four touchdowns, throwing a game-winning 34-yard score to Terrance Williams with eight seconds remaining to knock off the then-No. 5 Sooners. "We absolutely have confidence from last year," said senior Nick Florence, whose 377.4 passing yards per game lead the FBS. "We beat them last year and it's a good deal and we will feed off of that, but at the same time it's a totally different year and we are a totally different team and they are a totally different team. So yeah we beat them last year, that's great, but it's a new year, it's a new time and let's write a new chapter this year." Florence and the Bears, however, could be hard-pressed to pull off a repeat performance. Oklahoma (6-2, 4-1) is allowing 17.8 points and 312.9 yards per game to rank first in the Big 12 in both categories. "With Baylor last year, we worried a lot about Robert Griffin," defensive end Chuka Ndulue said. "We focused so much on one person, we forgot about the other keys they had on offense. That pretty much just beat us. We just have to do what we're supposed to do and do our assignments." While Baylor (4-4, 1-4) ranks sixth in the country with 43.8 points per game, coach Art Briles knows his team will have its hands full Saturday. "They are good," Briles said of Oklahoma's defensive unit. "They didn't wake up and just get good today; they have been good for a long time. They are very physical, very talented, and they are schemed up very well." The Bears, giving up a woeful 39.1 points per game, could also have a hard time trying to contain the Landry Jones-led Sooners offense. Posting 39.5 points per game to rank 15th in the nation, Oklahoma has averaged 45.2 in taking 37 of 38 home matchups against non-ranked foes. Though the Sooners have suffered losses to then-No. 15 Kansas State and then-No. 5 Notre Dame in going 1-2 against Top 25 opponents, they've taken all five games versus non-ranked teams by an average of 30.8 points. Oklahoma continued that trend last Saturday, winning 35-20 at Iowa State. Jones threw for a season-high 405 yards with four TDs and two interceptions while junior Brennan Clay ran for a career-high 157 yards and a score. The Sooners outgained the Cyclones 593-290 in total offense, giving coach Bob Stoops his 145th victory with Oklahoma - tied with Bud Wilkinson for the second-most in school history. "Just because we lost two games we are not going to be some slack team that is going to go up and not play hard and not play well," said Jones, who compiled 447 passing yards with no TDs and a pick against Baylor last season. "We always remember who we are and what kind of talent we have. With the last couple games we have at the end we are going to go out and try to play our best football." The Bears beat Kansas 41-14 last Saturday to snap a four-game skid. Florence completed 26 of 42 passes for 367 yards and three TDs, finding Williams 11 times for 137 yards and a score. Baylor also ran for a season-best 299 yards thanks to big efforts from Glasco Martin and Lache Seastrunk. "It helps a bunch without question, because you have to feel right about what is going on in order to feel right as a team. It is definitely a boost to the morale and to the confidence, and it was much needed," Briles said. "Our initial goal every year is to get bowl eligible. If you can count to six then you have a chance to do it. We are at four right now so we need a couple of more wins." Baylor fell 70-63 at then-No. 9 West Virginia on Sept. 29 in its only matchup against a ranked program this season, dropping to 0-26 all-time on the road versus Top 25 opponents in Big 12 play.
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