Baylor Bears vs. Oklahoma Sooners Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Baylor Bears (3-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Oklahoma Sooners (2-2 SU, 1-2 ATS), 3:30 p.m. EST, Saturday, October 10, 2009, Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, Okla. TV: ABC
by Ryno of

Point Spread: Baylor +25/Oklahoma -25

The theme of this game is injured quarterbacks, as Baylor battles Oklahoma in a Big 12 matchup. Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin is out for the season with a torn ACL, while Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, has been out with a shoulder injury since the first game of the season.

Bradford hopes to play on Saturday, as he will try to guide Oklahoma back towards its high expectations to start the season. The Sooners are perhaps the best 2-2 team in college football after losing to nationally ranked BYU and Miami. Both losses came by just one point.

Adding insult to injury, the Sooners found out last week that tight end Jermaine Gresham, widely regarded as the best tight end in the country, is out for the season with a knee injury.

In their last two home games, the Sooners outscored Idaho State and Tulsa 109-0.

With Bradford out, Landry Jones has filled in with 861 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. Ryan Broyles has been the No. 1 wide receiver for Oklahoma with 23 catches for 346 yards and seven touchdowns. DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown have split running back duties for the Sooners. The two of them have put up near identical numbers and combined for 567 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

In the loss to Miami, Oklahoma had a tough time stopping the run. Hurricanes running back Javarris James ran for 150 yards on 15 carries. Against BYU, the problem was stopping the pass, as Cougars QB Max Hall threw for 329 yards. But the Sooners picked off two of his passes and had the lead until late in the fourth quarter, when Hall threw the game-winning touchdown pass. The real problem for the Sooners has been their offense, but with Bradford back in the lineup the offense should be much improved.

Baylor has been an improved team this season. The Bears opened the season with a 24-21 road win at Wake Forest, a quality ACC team. Then, they lost 30-22 at home to Connecticut, before winning their last two games over Northwestern State and Kent State.

Griffin was an important part of the Bears offense, but he wasn’t the main reason for the strong start. Against Connecticut, Baylor running back Jay Finley ran for 121 yards and a touchdown on just eight carries. Against Wake Forest, Finley had 91 yards on 14 carries and the Bears ran for 199 yards as a team. They have also done a nice job against the pass, intercepting Wake Forest QB Riley Skinner three times and holding him to just 143 passing yards and hold Connecticut QB Cody Endres to 147 yards.

The Bears are ranked No. 19 against the pass among FBS teams, giving up 166 yards per game. On the other hand, they have the 20th worst run defense, allowing 164.8 rushing yards per game.

New Baylor QB Nick Florence was very effective against Kent State. He was 20-for-27 for 216 yards and he ran for 60 yards and two touchdowns.

Last season, Oklahoma won 49-17 at Baylor. Bradford threw for 372 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, plus he ran for another touchdown. Murray had 96 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, while Brown had 12 carries for 45 yards and a touchdown. Griffin was 11-for-26 passing for 75 yards, but the Bears ran the ball for 194 yards.

Oklahoma is 18-0 all-time against Baylor, but the Bears are 4-2 ATS the last six times these two teams have met. Oklahoma has gone under in all three games this season against FBS teams.

Ryno’s Pick: Oklahoma is not as good as it was last season and Baylor is better, despite having a new quarterback. The Bears lost by 32 to the Sooners last season. They could come within three touchdowns this season, but it all depends on Bradford. Assuming he does play, it’s unknown quite how effective he will be. Chances are that he won’t throw too much and he won’t take a ton of chances down the field in his first game back. Baylor has a very poor run defense, so the Sooners will run the ball a lot, much like they did 58 times against Baylor last year. Much of Baylor’s success this season has been because of a strong running game, so expect the same out of them. Baylor has a good chance of covering, but because of all the running, playing the under will be safer. Take the under when it comes out.