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OU Football: Baylor tumbling back downhill

Ray Dozier / Red Dirt Report
McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas is home of the Baylor Bears.
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WACO, Texas – The nation’s longest active winning streak (13 games) in college football resides in Norman, Oklahoma. The No. 3 Sooners (3-0 this year) also possess a 16-game winning streak in the Big 12 Conference, and they haven’t lost a true road game in the last 12.

Oklahoma puts it all on the line Saturday (5:30 p.m. FS1) against the winless Baylor Bears (0-3) in the Big 12 Conference opener for both teams.

The Bears have been rolling downhill from the mountaintop they once resided not long ago.

Rapes by players and cover-ups by coaches and administration have damaged the Baptist private university during the last two years. Baylor once was the talk of the college football world in a positive light when the Bears ascended to the top of the conference with championships in 2012 and 2013 (the latter shared with TCU).

Former coach Art Briles guided the Bears to a record of 50-15 between 2011-15 and finished seventh in 2014 in the AP Poll. Not bad for a team that was a constant cellar dweller in the Big 12 Conference since the league began in 1996. Baylor had won 50 and lost 123 games overall between 1996 and 2010. Briles’ Bears beat Oklahoma three times after the program lost the first 20 games in the series.

This year, the Bears have lost to Liberty (48-45), Texas-San Antonio (17-10) and Duke (34-20). None of those teams are football powers, although the Blue Devils are undefeated at 3-0, they don’t warrant respect as a Top 25 team.

Baylor hung around Duke for three quarters, but the Blue Devils put up 10 points in the fourth.

Bears’ quarterback Zach Smith threw three interceptions in the game, and the last one was returned for a Blue Devil touchdown early in the fourth period. Minutes later, Duke recovered a Smith fumble to set up a field goal for the final tally.

Smith did fire three touchdowns for Baylor, but he completed only 12 of 34 for 263 yards. The ground game was horrible as the Bears picked up only 57 yards (2.1 per carry).

Help could be on the way as running back Terrence Williams will return to the Bears’ lineup after a three-game absence. He injured his shoulder during spring practices. The Ennis, Texas junior led Baylor with 1,048 rushing yards and 11 TDs last year.

His return may not be enough to overcome the power of the Sooner Schooner when it rolls into Waco. Baker Mayfield is the leading Heisman candidate and currently second in the country with a 224.2 passer rating (63 of 82, 1,046 yards, 10 TDs, 0 INTs). He is second because Central Florida’s quarterback has played in only one game.

Oklahoma’s offense seems to be finding some capable receivers with freshman Cee Dee Lamb, senior Jeff Badet, and sophomore Marquise Brown. Tight end Mark Andrews leads the pack with 13 receptions for 233 yards and a score. Andrews sat out most of last week’s win over Tulane (thigh bruise), and he might be held out as a precaution for Saturday. Although coach Lincoln Riley said, he is 100 percent.

The running game has been superb. Abdul Adams (166 yards), Trey Sermon (135) and Marcellus Sutton (115) leading the way but still no one has come to the forefront.

After a surprise performance against Ohio State, the defense struggled early against Tulane’s triple-option offense. The Green Wave scored two touchdowns and rolled up 198 total yards on their first three possessions. The Sooner D shut them down to 93 yards on the next 11 series.

Both teams were tied at 14-apiece after one quarter, but Parnell Moley’s interception for the touchdown was just the spark that OU needed. Tulane was driving from its 25 to the OU 32, and then Motley picked off the Green Wave pass and weaved 77 yards to paydirt.

“Once we got that interception return, we got our confidence going, and we played more aggressively,” Riley said.

The Sooners scored five more touchdowns the rest of the way for a 56-14 victory.

The only way OU would struggle against Baylor is because the Bears are a mess and the Sooners might not be fired up for this one. The Bears might be the cellar dwellers in the conference again this year. BU is 92nd nationally in scoring (25 points per game) and 91st in total offense (375.3- yard average).

Baylor’s defense ranks 101st in points (33), and 111th in yards (463.3) allowed. Linebacker Clay Johnston leads the Bear D with 29 tackles—6.5 for loss and one sack. Nose tackles Ira Lewis leads with 4.5 tackles behind the line including 2.5 sacks.

Baylor has managed to convert 20 percent (128th) on third downs while the defense has given up 44.8 percent (105th). The Bears also lack discipline as they’ve been flagged an average of 9.3 penalties (117th) per game.

Punter Drew Galitz is the Bears’ shining star with a 45.7-yard average, best in the Big 12. He boomed one kick last week for 70 yards against Duke.

After leading Temple to a 20-7 mark the last two years, Matt Rhule was hired to clean up Baylor’s football program. It took him four years to turn the Owls into a good team. It’s likely to be longer to turn around the BU program.

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Fast Facts

*OU leads the series, 23-3, including two straight wins.

*OU leads the series, 10-2, in Waco.

*OU is a 27.5-point favorite.

*Riley’s coaching record: 3-0 (1.000) overall; 0-1 on the road.

*Ruhle’s coaching record 28-26 (.519) overall; 0-3 at Baylor.7-0)

*OU is undefeated (8-0) in games played on September 23.

*BU is 5-4 in games played on September 23.

*OU safety Khalil Haughton played high school football at Waco’s Midway High School.

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About the Author

Ray Dozier

Ray Dozier is the author of Legends of Oklahoma Sooners Football and two editions of The...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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