Oklahoma, Baylor to meet in key Big 12 showdown
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Ex-Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer often boasted that his Sooners would ''hang half a hundred'' on opponents.
Fifty points might not be enough when Oklahoma plays Baylor on Saturday. The 10th-ranked Bears (7-1, 4-1 Big 12, 12th in the College Football Playoff rankings) lead the nation with just over 50 points and 590 yards per game.
''They're really good,'' Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. ''Look at the yardage they're putting up, the points they've put up.''
The 16th-ranked Sooners are capable of keeping up. Oklahoma (6-2, 3-2, 15th in the CFP rankings) is eighth nationally in scoring with 41.4 points per game and averages nearly 500 yards per contest.
Each team showed what it could do last week. Baylor rolled up 669 yards in a 60-14 win over Kansas, while Oklahoma gained 510 of its 751 yards on the ground in a 59-14 win over Iowa State.
Though both defenses are statistically among the best in the conference, they have been vulnerable against top teams. Oklahoma allowed 37 in a loss to TCU, 31 in a loss to Kansas State and 33 in a win over West Virginia. Baylor gave up 58 in a win over TCU and 41 in a loss to West Virginia.
Baylor needs a win to keep its Big 12 title hopes and playoff aspirations alive. The Bears are No. 12 in the playoff rankings.
''We're looking at Oklahoma right now, nothing past that,'' Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty said. ''We have to make sure we execute well because it's going to be a hostile environment, one that you're excited about as a competitor. But at the end of the day, it's about us.''
Here are some things to watch when the offensive juggernauts meet on Saturday.
SHEPARD'S HEALTH: Oklahoma receiver Sterling Shepard, who ranks third in the nation in yards receiving per game, suffered a groin injury on the Sooners' first offensive play last Saturday against Iowa State and did not return. Oklahoma's coaches said they expect him to be ready. It will be interesting to see if he has his usual wiggle and explosiveness.
BAYLOR RUN GAME: Baylor is known for its passing attack, but the Bears lead the Big 12 in rushing, and Baylor's Shock Linwood is the conference's rushing leader. Stoops said stopping Baylor starts with slowing the running game.
''They want to run the ball,'' he said ''They're persistent about it, and they're good at it. And from it is where they try to get all of their big play-action passes. It begins with being great against the run game first.''
OKLAHOMA'S PRESSURE: Petty missed time earlier this season with two cracked transverse processes in his back, the same injury currently ailing Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Petty hasn't taken too many hits since his return, but Oklahoma is better than most at pressuring the quarterback. Sooner linebacker Eric Striker is among the Big 12 leaders with 5.5 sacks this season. He may be able to get Petty thinking about protecting himself instead of lighting up the scoreboard.
''They're extremely talented, especially up front,'' Petty said. ''They've got a lot of big guys that can move, that can run. Their front seven is really well coached, and back end wise, they fly around. So it's going to be a great challenge for us.''
SHAWN OAKMAN: Oklahoma will need to contain Baylor's 6-foot-9, 280-pound defensive end. He ranks third in the conference in sacks (6), second in tackles for loss (12.5) and first in fumbles recovered (3).
BAYLOR'S HISTORY: Baylor has amped up the hype for this game, but the Bears historically have come have come up short in these types of circumstances. Baylor has never won in 11 tries in Norman, and the Bears are 0-11 on the road against ranked teams during Art Briles' tenure. Add the fact that Oklahoma is still smarting from last year's 41-12 loss in Waco last year, and it becomes clear Baylor will need to elevate its game to win.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.