MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

October 31, 2013

Used script not worth much for OU

By John Shinn
CNHI

— NORMAN — Since the Big 12 Conference was formed, the nearest thing to a sure thing has been an Oklahoma-Baylor game. In 16 meetings, the Sooners are 15-1.

But what’s happened before doesn’t apply anymore. The fifth-ranked Bears are one of college football’s hottest teams and the center of the Big 12.

“You want to play against great teams like Baylor,” OU safety Gabe Lynn said. “Baylor has a lot of national attention now, with all those points they’re putting up and all the playmakers they have, so it would look great for us to come out and really stop all that, so that’s our goal.”

In that sense, the 13th-ranked Sooners’ trip to Baylor in seven days will be one of the conference’s biggest games of the season.

One reason is that it could be the last chance to see if anyone in the league can slow the Bears. Through seven games, no team in college football has come close to putting up number comparable to the Bears.

The 63.9 points per game they’re averaging has the Bears on pace to obliterate the NCAA record of 716 points set by the Sooners in 2008.

“All kinds of points. They’ve got speed everywhere. They’re doing an excellent job,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “Offensively is where most of the talk is, but you look at them defensively and they’re in the top part of the league in almost every defensive category. They’ve done an excellent job. It will be a big challenge.”

The Sooners typically face several of these games a year. It entered the season knowing it would face a few major road hurdles. The game at Notre Dame figured to be one. The regular-season finale Dec. 7 at Oklahoma State figured to be another.

But the most daunting seems to be against the team OU has beaten 15 times in 16 tries as conference rivals and are 21-1 all time.

Where Baylor is and the importance it has on OU’s schedule shows how quickly things can change in college football and the Big 12 Conference.

“We’re very excited and obviously they’re a great team with a great coach. They’ve really been, maybe, the most dominant team — other than Oregon and Alabama — in college football this year,” center Gabe Ikard said. “So we’re very excited for the opportunity and excited to play in a big game on the road. Those are always fun. It’s going to be a great atmosphere. I’m excited to get down to Waco and play. It’ll be interesting.”

If someone hadn’t paid attention to college football for a couple years, hearing the words like “big challenge” and “great atmosphere” coming from OU players and coaches when discussing Baylor, would be nothing more than polite talk.

Well, times have changed. And the Sooners fully understand they’re seven days away from their biggest road challenge of the season.

“In the Big 12, there’s a lot of good teams and, no matter what the records say, I think anybody can get beat on any day,” Lynn said. “So every week we’ve got to have that kind of attitude like it’s all on the line right here.”