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Oklahoma Gameday: X-Factor

The SI Sooners staff takes a look at what areas of the game could be decisive is the Sooners want to stay unbeaten against the Baylor Bears.

John Hoover: OU's schedule

The Sooners' schedule so far has been wholly unimpressive. And that has somehow yielded low energy, lack of focus or just straight-up apathy from the players about a given opponent — and that opinion has been stated more than once by captain Isaiah Thomas. Per NCAA data, Oklahoma has played the 11th-easiest schedule in college football this season, as OU's opponents have an aggregate winning percentage of just .425 (31-42). That changes this week, as Baylor is the best team Oklahoma has faced all year. OU's remaining opponents (Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma State) are 21-8, a winning percentage of .778, which ranks third nationally. So do the Sooners finally play up to their competition on Saturday at McLane Stadium? Or has their soft schedule so far done nothing to toughen them up for this rugged finishing stretch?

Ryan Chapman: Caleb Williams' Legs

Caleb Williams has proven time and time again that he can hit a home run in the run game, but that's not what could be decisive against Baylor. Dave Aranda's defenses are tough for opposing quarterbacks to diagnose, but if Williams can keep plays alive with his legs, OU's talented wide receiving core can make the Baylor secondary pay. Former Oklahoma quarterback Chandler Morris did exactly that one week ago in TCU's upset victory over the Bears. Morris ended up rushing for 70 yards, but his biggest impact came when he was able to keep plays alive on third-and-long to help bail out the Horned Frog offense and keep moving the chains. If Williams can do that at a high level on Saturday, it could be a long day for the Baylor defense. 

Josh Callaway: Turnovers 

Turnovers can be pointed to as an x-factor in almost any big game but it really seems like whoever wins the turnover battle on Saturday is going to be absolutely golden to get the win. Oklahoma feeds off forcing turnovers. It is what Alex Grinch has preached since the day he arrived on campus. Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon, meanwhile, generally doesn’t turn the ball over, having thrown only five interceptions on the year. However, two of those came last week in the Bears’ upset loss to TCU. Connect those dots and forcing Baylor into turnovers means a much better chance for victory. On the flip side, Caleb Williams’ only hiccup as a starter to this point came in the first half in Lawrence in his only true road start. Otherwise he’s been near perfect. Williams will need to avoid any freshman mistakes if the Sooners want to win this game, and considering he’s had virtually none so far, that seems like a safe bet. 

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