Oklahoma Sooners (8-1 SU, 7-2 ATS) vs. Baylor Bears (8-0 SU, 4-3 ATS)
College Football Week 11
Date/Time: Saturday, November 14, 2015 at 8PM EST
Where: McLane Stadium, Waco, Texas
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OKLA +2.5/BAY -2.5
Over/Under Total: 77
The Oklahoma Sooners come to McLane Stadium on Saturday to face the Baylor Bears in a very important Big 12 matchup that could have ramifications on a national scale. Baylor, 8-0, stayed on the right track last Thursday with a 31-24 win over Kansas State. With starting quarterback Seth Russell missing his first game, the QB duties fell into the hands of freshman Jarrett Stidham, who threw for 400+ yards in the win. Oklahoma is now 8-1 after a 52-16 win over Iowa State on Saturdaytheir 4th win in a row since an upset loss to Texas in their only loss of the season.
Baylor is 8-0, but in need of a truly marquee win to put them in the spotlight. A win over Oklahoma would certainly help their profile. The offense, which is the highest-scoring in the country, was thrown for a loop with the season-ending injury to Russell, with a freshman now taking over the Baylor machine. He did have a good game against KSU with 3 TD passes. Star receiver Corey Coleman connected well with the young passer, going for 216 yards passing with 2 TD scores. The 31-24 win was a bit too close, as Baylor failed to cover the spread, but Stidham offered some hope moving forward, hoping to make the Russell loss less disastrous.
Baylor has beaten some decent teams and put up some impressive numbers, but this is where the real work begins and well see if Stidham is up for the task. First is Oklahoma and then Oklahoma State, followed by TCU. The big wins are there for the taking. But everything leads to this, with the first 8 games being window dressing for these next three games. Baylor is averaging 57.4 points per game, but had their two lowest point totals in the last two weeks. Stidham is going to need to have this offense in high gear against the Sooners.
It really helps when a freshman walks into a situation like this, as Baylor has a fully-stocked offense for Stidham to lean on. Coleman is major weapon, with 20 receiving TDs. Jay Lee and KD Cannon add more appealing targets for the youngster to use. Shock Linwood, Terence Williams, and Johnny Jefferson help make up a vicious ground game that is ranked higher than the Baylor pass-attack, as both are top ten in the nation. They fit a lot of production into one offense. In the last 4 weeks, however, their point totals have decreased with each passing week and this is where they need to start piling on the points again. It might not be easy, as the Oklahoma defense is tops in the Big 12 Conference.
The Baylor defense will be tested tremendously in the upcoming weeks. With Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and TCU lying ahead, this defense will reveal what theyre made of. Its easy when the offense is putting up totals in the 60s, but some of these upcoming games will likely require Baylor to show more than their offensive prowess to shine. On the season, the Bears have given up 25 points per game, but thats been against some of the less-threatening teams in their conference and some non-conference patsies. Against West Virginia, Iowa State, and KSU, the second-tier of the Big 12 in terms of offensive menace, they gave up 89 points. And that number will almost assuredly go up over the course of their next three games. How much more it goes will determine the Bears fate. Theyre going to give up points, which is the nature of the beast at the upper reaches of this conference, but if they can showcase some of their big-play ability and muster some clutch stops, it could make all the difference.
The Sooners offense has been hitting a groove in recent weeks. Suffice to say that the loss to Texas was a stunner and a real dampener on the season and their CFP prospects. But it may have made them more dangerous, with the Sooners shot out of a cannon since then, with 232 points scored in their last 4 games. During that stretch, QB Baker Mayfield has re-doubled his efforts, throwing for 14 touchdowns with just one interception in that stretch. Theyve been running over teams and cant be overlooked. They have the nations third-highest scoring offense. Sterling Shepard, Durron Neal, and Dede Westbrook are a trio of great targets for the dogged Mayfield. Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon combine for a classy 1-2 punch at running back. The weaponry is extensive, with Mayfield making the most of it behind a hulking line that helps it all come together. Like Baylor, they are just as likely to get you with the pass or the run.
The Oklahoma defense has only given up more than 27 points once this season and that was in a win. Sometimes, opponents dont get much of anything going offensively. Theyve had some better results than the Baylor D at times this season against certain teams. They are tough on the passing game, with some quarterbacks laboring against Oklahoma this season. Theyve picked off 11 balls and registered 30 sacks. So even when theyre porous, theyre capable of coming up with the big play.
Baylor gets this one at home, which gives them a nice edge. They know the stakeswin this and still be in the running for the College Football Playoff. Lose and its something other than that. Clear enough. But that doesnt mean Oklahoma wont be gunning for the win, even with their CFP future looking gloomy. Baylor might be a bit less than what theyd be if Russell were in there. And it seems like Oklahoma is peaking at the right time. Im taking the Sooners.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Oklahoma Sooners plus 2.5 points.
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