Anything that could have gone wrong for Baylor (6-3, 3-3 Big 12) on Saturday appeared to go wrong against No. 11 Oklahoma (8-2, 7-0 Big 12). Baylor running back Terrance Williams was knocked out of the game in the first half (he would eventually return though)and quarterback Seth Russell suffered a horrific injury to his left leg in the second half. Injuries aside, Oklahoma left little doubt which team was the best in the Big 12 with a 45-24 victory.
Joe Mixon (124 yards, 1 TD) and Samaje Perine (100 yards, 2 TDs) were dominant on the ground and Baker Mayfield thrived through the air with 300 passing yards and two touchdowns. Dede Westbrook was a big factor for the Sooners as well with two touchdown catches. On defense, linebacker Jordan Evans made some history by becoming the first Oklahoma player to record two sacks and two interceptions in the same game.
Russell left the game with a severe left leg injury. It was a pretty gruesome injury that should keep him out for the remainder of the season. I’ll just put it this way. His foot is not supposed to point that way. You know it was bad when Oklahoma defenders around him on the play were showing how in shock they were about the injury, waving for medics to come rushing out for assistance.
Defense, as you might suspect in a big 12 game, was pretty much optional. Both teams had over 500 yards of offense, but Baylor’s miscues (three turnovers) prevented them from keeping this one closer than it turned out. Two interceptions thrown by Baylor ended up leading to Oklahoma touchdowns. One of those interceptions came in the end zone, for what turned out to a be a pivotal 14-point swing.
With the win, Oklahoma remains in full control of the Big 12 race with two games still to play. The Sooners lead Oklahoma State and West Virginia by one game. It just so happens those are Oklahoma’s final two opponents, starting with next week’s game in Morgantown against West Virginia. West Virginia held on for a 24-20 road win at Texas shortly after Oklahoma wrapped up this win. Oklahoma has won eight straight games since starting the season 0-2 with losses to Houston and Ohio State.
Baylor has now lost three straight game sin Big 12 play and will hope to get back in the win column next week against Kansas State in Waco.
The Oklahoma Sooners (2-2, 1-0 Big 12) evened their season record after nearly letting a big lead evaporate in Fort Worth. After taking a 49-24 lead into the fourth quarter, No. 21 TCU (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) made the Sooners sweat with three touchdown drives in the final frame. In the end, Oklahoma managed to keep just ahead of Kenny Hill and TCU to leave town with a wild 52-46 shootout victory.
Baker Mayfield completed 22 of 30 pass attempts for 274 yards and two touchdowns, without an interception. Mayfield also rushed for 55 yards and two more touchdowns, and Joe Mixon led the Sooners with 105 yards and a score. Samaje Perine also rushed for 98 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Dede Westbrook had himself a ball game with five catches for 158 yards and two scores (133 yards and 2 touchdowns came in the first half).
TCU’s fourth-quarter rally came together as Kenny Hill was getting in a groove, although perhaps too late for the Horned Frogs. Hill ended his day with 449 passing yards and five touchdown passes, with Taj Williams responsible for 210 yards and two of those touchdowns. The two teams combined for over 1,000 yards of offense, but TCU lost the game’s only turnover, which led to an Oklahoma touchdown.
Oklahoma got off on the right foot in their Big 12 schedule. After dropping non-conference matchups against Houston and Ohio State in September, the Sooners were effectively removed from playoff discussion after dropping out of the top 25 of the polls as well. This win, however, suggests Oklahoma still has a chance to have a good season as far as the Big 12 is concerned. The conference will be there for the taking this season, and Oklahoma picked up a road win against TCU to get a jump start on the competition on a day Baylor nearly went down at Iowa State and Texas dropped a game against Oklahoma State. West Virginia pulled out a win at home against Kansas State as well.
Oklahoma heads to Dallas next week for the Red River Rivalry meeting with the Texas Longhorns. Texas is coming off a rough loss at Oklahoma State today and defeated the Sooners last season. TCU will hit the road next week by taking on Kansas.
Oklahoma is looking to open things up on offense a bit in 2015. The air-raid offensive philosophy figures to be a way for the Sooners to keep pace with evolving offenses throughout the Big 12, and new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Lincoln Riley was brought in to join Bob Stoops‘ staff for just that reason. If the Sooners’ spring game was any indication, it could be a slight work in progress, but it has potential.
The biggest concern for Oklahoma right now is having the right personnel in place to effectively thrive using the air-raid offense. This will take a short period of time to address and adjust through recruiting, but Oklahoma has some receivers that should fit in nicely this fall. The Sooners welcome back senior Sterling Shepard, but what about the rest of his supporting cast? Durron Neal is there, which is good news, but Oklahoma is hoping some new additions can have an impact as well.
Sophomore Jeff Mead had a good spring game, leading the Sooners with three catches for 93 yards. His god hands hauled in a one-handed catch deep downfield on a throw from quarterback Baker Mayfield. He should be in position to have a nice role in the offense that looks to stretch the field.
One name to keep a close eye on will be junior college transfer Dede Westbrook. He caught one pass for a gain of 28 yards in Oklahoma’s spring game, but could find a role in the offense by the time the fall starts up.
Oklahoma will get there. The receivers will eventually fit into the new system. Stoops and Riley will find a quarterback properly equipped for an air-raid style, and work with what they have now to get the most they can out of it. Can they get it together in 2015? Or is the future looking brighter in 2016 in Norman?