By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — It was just 51 weeks ago when Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops walked off Owen Field in an agitated state. OU had just beaten Baylor, 42-34, but the points and the 424 yards of total offense it had allowed had him miffed.
Nearly a year later, that performance is viewed in a different context.
“Isn’t that crazy,” he said Saturday. “Everyone said how bad we played. Look at it now and they are averaging 700 yards a game and I laugh.”
The game inside the 13th-ranked Sooners meeting with No. 5 Baylor Thursday at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas, will center on whether they can keep Baylor from lighting up the scoreboard in what’s become its typical manner.
Through seven games, the Bears are averaging 63.9 points a game — a touchdown more than anyone else at the FBS level.
They have the ability to expose any weak link in a defense. OU’s secondary knows it’s preparing to spend 3-4 hours in the football equivalent of a horror movie.
“The number one offense in the country. They’re gonna try to take the top off you,” OU cornerback Zack Sanchez said. “This is by far going to be our biggest challenge.”
One of the challenges the Sooners will face is to not get caught up in the numbers. The Bears are going to move the ball and they’re going to score points.
The key is making them earn everything they get.
“We can’t stop them from doing anything; you just have to challenge them,” cornerback Aaron Colvin said. “What you’re trying to do as a defensive back and what we’re trying to do as a defense is you’re trying to make every play a challenging play. They’ve been able to get easy plays at times because of their athleticism and defensive guys not really staying on their assignments.”
In other words: Panic sets after several scoring drives. It’s happened repeatedly to Baylor’s first seven opponents. All seven trailed by 11 points at halftime. All but Kansas State, which has been the only team to seriously give the Bears a run for their money before falling 35-25, trailing by at least 31 points at halftime.
“At the end of the day we’ve got to play our game,” Sanchez said. “We can’t worry about what they’re gonna do. We’ve got to react to it and be prepared and have our best scheme ready to play. It’s nothing that they can do, it’s just what we’ve got to do as a defense.”
Will the Sooners be able to show the poise six of Baylor’s seven opponents lacked?
It will be up to the defense. If it can hold the Bears to less than 40 points, OU has a fighting chance Thursday night.
Those weren’t the expectations Stoops had when OU faced Baylor 51 weeks ago. But a lot can change in that span of time.
“It’s funny, we came in here and I didn’t feel very good about it,” he said. “This team, if you can hold them to numbers like that, you have a great chance to win. That’s what we were able to do a year ago and it’s the type of game you are going to be in.”
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