Baylor (6-2, 3-2) at Oklahoma (7-2, 6-0)
When: Saturday, November 12th 2016
Where: Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, OK
Time: 12:00 ET | TV: ABC/ESPN2
The Oklahoma Sooners quest for a second consecutive BCS Playoff berth is still alive as they head into the meat of their schedule. First up will be the 25th-ranked Baylor Bears at home. Oklahoma appeared out of the College Football Playoff picture after losing two of its first three games to Houston and Ohio State, but is back up to No. 11 in the latest CFP rankings. Oklahoma has won six in a row since that home loss to the Buckeyes and knows a strong finish with victories over Baylor, #10 West Virginia and #17 rival Oklahoma State could put it in the CFP hunt. A year ago, the Sooners concluded the regular season with impressive wins over Baylor (44-34), TCU (30-29) and Oklahoma State (58-23) to garner a CFP semifinal berth where they eventually lost to Clemson, 37-17. Junior quarterback Baker Mayfield, who finished fourth in Heisman Trophy balloting a year ago, is having another terrific season, completing 71.2% of his passes for 2,912 yards and 31 touchdowns against only six interceptions. His top target is senior Dede Westbrook, who has 40 catches for 1,012 yards and 12 touchdowns since the start of Big 12 play on October 1st. Running backs Joe Mixon (813 yards, 5 TDs) and Samaje Perine (475 yards, 6 TDs) carry the load from the backfield.
The Bears’ season is falling apart after back-to-back losses at Texas (35-34) and last week at home to TCU (62-22), a game that saw Baylor surrender 688 yards, including 431 on the ground. Senior Shock Linwood, who has rotated with Terence Williams and JaMycal Hasty for the lead running back role, has rushed for 594 yards through eight games this season to give him a school career record 4,056, but was suspended for this week’s game by acting head coach Jim Grobe after an altercation with a graduate-assistant coach. The Bears will need a big game from senior quarterback Seth Russell who has passed for 1,978 yards, 19 touchdowns and six interceptions while also rushing for 436 yards and eight touchdowns so far this season. Russell spreads the ball around pretty well, but his top target is Junior KD Cannon, who has 40 catches for 560 yards and six touchdowns. The defense has improved this year especially against the pass, ranking 17th nationally (189.1 yards/game). The Bears are still mathematically alive for the Big 12 crown, but another loss would eliminate them.
Oklahoma is on a roll right now and should win this game, but Baylor has a lot to play for also. The Sooners are ranked 121st in the country against the pass, so expect Russell to have a big game. Baylor’s defense should slow down the passing game, but might have some trouble stopping the run. I can easily see Baylor covering this game with a late touchdown. This is too many points.
Pick: Baylor +17.5