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(Jim Ross is a Hall of Fame wrestling announcer, a legendary voice. He also has a great love for Oklahoma football. JR will break down the Sooners‘ games in his own unique style.)
1. Baylor QB Bryce Petty: OU cannot allow Petty to find his ‘spot’ and get comfortable on Owen Field. The confident signal caller has too many weapons with which to be able to be allowed to play pitch and catch. Physical play, hurries, knockdowns and sacks must be the order of the day as it relates to Petty for Mike Stoops’ defense who need to be loaded with P&V.
2. Baylor running back Shock Linwood: Will make good money playing on Sundays in the future and will sternly test the Sooner D. Arm tackling won’t slow the 5-9, 200 pound bruiser with one of CFB’s best names. He makes tough yards and runs well through ‘trash.’ Slowing down No. 32 is a high priority and a major challenge for OU’s LBs.
3. DE Shawn Oakman: One of CFB’s most fascinating players and NFL prospects at 6-9, 280-pound, the Penn State transfer could well be a top-10 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. How OU offensive tackles deal with the physical beast is a key facet in this key Big 12 battle. Whether it be cut blocking or getting help from a back or tight end, neutralizing Oakman is a priority and keeping Oakman away from Trevor Knight is a must. OU’s offensive tackles can potentially earn some NFL money by how they play Saturday against a man who’s being compared to former Dallas Cowboy Ed “Too Tall” Jones.
4. Run Trevor Run: The Sooner QB had a great game against an anemic Iowa State team last Saturday, both running and passing. It seemed as if Knight regained his confidence and felt more comfortable running the Sooner offense since earning the Sugar Bowl MVP last January. Moving laterally and not staying in the pocket seems to fit the Sooner co-captain best and his ability to keep drives alive with his legs could be a difference-maker Saturday. I’d love to see any combination of Perine, Ford and Ross in the OU backfield together. Also, let’s not forget how effective Sterling Shepherd can be running misdirection plays against the aggressive Baylor defense.
5. OU O-Line: The onus is on this unit to dominate the line of scrimmage and keep Art Briles’ high-octane offense resting comfortably on the east side of the stadium. This group has demonstrated how dominant it can be at times during the season but there’s no room for compromise Saturday from a group that averages 330-plus pounds per man. It’s time for the big eaters to become carnivores and devour some Bear steaks. The team with the most passion and who dominates the line of scrimmage wins this one.
6. Sooner Pass Defense: It’s inevitable that Baylor will relentlessly test the Sooner secondary and look to earn chunk yards and impactful, big plays. Look for cornerback Julian Wilson to be targeted while aggressive, DB Zac Sanchez will have to resist biting on double moves. QB Petty parked on his Baylor buttocks will help this situation. Sooner safeties should not sleep well this week.
7. Special Teams: Simple formula … OU getting something out of this phase of the game would be huge. A punt or kickoff return, a blocked punt, anything momentum-changing to engage the, at times, not-as-rowdy home crowd is ideally what one would prefer. Michael Hunnicutt is still CFB’s best place kicker and his leg might be the difference in what should be a classic Big 12 college football game against two teams that have no plans to share any holiday meals together. Baylor “housing” a kick concerns me as it will take the crowd right out of the game.
Art Briles is no Bob Stoops and that has to bother the innovative, native Texan, but beating OU for the first time in his school’s history in Norman would certainly cure what ails Briles. Expect a prolifically physical game Saturday on FOX Sports 1 at the “enough is enough” starting time of 10 a.m. ET. I fully expect OU to be ready to play and show some new wrinkles on both sides of the football especially if RB Keith Ford is back in the rotation. OU broke out the diamond offensive formation last week and has had another week to add to the formation that provides many “options,” (wink, wink). As I mentioned here before, Blake Bell is an eligible receiver and can be effective when OU needs to move the chains.
Prediction: Oklahoma 29, Baylor 27
You can follow Jim Ross on Twitter @JRsBBQ, listen to him on the Ross Report Podcast, and see him live at RINGSIDE: An Evening with Jim Ross. JR’s products are also available online at WWE Shop, American Soda and Beyond the Ropes.
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