Givanni Damico | November 16th, 2019
College Gameday is heading to Waco! The #9 Oklahoma Sooners take on the undefeated #12 Baylor Bears in a very important Big 12 game. Both of these teams have had very interesting seasons led by prolific quarterbacks.
The Oklahoma Sooners are a household name in college sports and were expected to make a playoff run after Jalen Hurts started the season on fire. Their defense frightened me from week one when they gave up 31 points to the Houston Cougars. The Cougars are known for having a solid offense led by D’Eriq King, but that offense has faltered against other teams this season. The Sooners coasted for the next four weeks, outscoring their opponents 218-64. The next four weeks were a different story.
While they did have one convincing victory over West Virginia, they played a close game with the struggling Texas Longhorns in the Red River Shootout. Right after their rout of West Virginia, the Sooners shocked the world. Oklahoma went up 17-7 after the first quarter, but couldn’t maintain the lead heading to the half, down 24-23. Most people didn’t think much of this at the time. Sometimes it takes these powerhouses some time to get going before they blow out their opponent. Alabama didn’t come out firing on all cylinders against the Citadel last year.
I was in Columbus during the Sooners’ game and when they showed the out-of-town scores, you could hear some murmuring from people in the area, but nothing significant. This changed when Kansas State scored 24 unanswered points to start the second half. Everybody was losing their minds in Columbus and rightfully so. With 12 minutes left, it looked as if they didn’t have much hope. And they didn’t. Oklahoma made it way closer than it should have been, but they dug themselves far too deep of a hole.
The very next game, Oklahoma took on Iowa State. They were up early, but Iowa State pulled closer and gave Oklahoma another scare. The final score was 42-41. They also lost one of their running backs, Trey Sermon, to a season-ending knee injury. He will not return this season. Jalen Hurts provides plenty of offensive firepower for the Sooners, but if their defense can’t keep them ahead, they’re in trouble. They’re playing close football games this year, although so has this week’s opponent, the Baylor Bears.
I think you could have polled 1,000 people before the season this year, and maybe one or two would have said that the Baylor Bears would be undefeated going into their matchup against Oklahoma. They are no stranger to close games. Five of their nine wins have been one-score games, including one that definitely should not have been close against the winless Rice Owls. A lot of people aren’t taking this Baylor team seriously as an undefeated team, but I am. The Bears are one of a very small group of Big 12 teams who actually play defense, allowing just 19 points per game to opponents. They’ve only allowed 30 or more points once this year against the Texas Tech Red Raiders who scored exactly 30. Their defense has been a force to be reckoned with, but a very underrated player in football is their quarterback, Charlie Brewer. Brewer has 2,338 passing yards with a 67% completion rate this year. He has accounted for 23 total touchdowns while only throwing four interceptions. He’s an efficient passer and uses his legs when he needs to. The Bears use two running backs, John Lovett and JaMycal Hasty, equally. Combined, they’ve rushed for 992 yards and eight touchdowns. I think Baylor plays to the level of their competition, which means we don’t know what team will show up this Sunday.
Oklahoma is ten-point favorites in Waco on Saturday. This is just too high in my opinion, especially since they’re on the road. It’s really hard for me to pick against Jalen Hurts, but I have to factor in the Sooners’ defense as well. Baylor needs to play well on both sides of the ball (thanks, Captain Obvious) and take advantage of every opportunity they get. In the end, I think Oklahoma wins this game 45-42 in regulation. Baylor and Matt Rhule deserve massive props for this season, win or lose. This challenge is just a bit too tough for me to have confidence in the Bears.
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