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Tough defensive challenge awaits Oklahoma

The SportsXchange

For the second straight game, Oklahoma will face one of the nation's best passing offenses in a matchup against an undefeated Big 12 foe.

Last Saturday the Sooners handed No. 10 Texas Tech its first loss of the season, 38-30, in Norman. With a sort-of bye this weekend, the Sooners are preparing for a prime time matchup at No. 6 Baylor on Thursday, Nov. 7.

Baylor junior quarterback Bryce Petty leads the nation in pass efficiency at 219.0, and in yards per completion at 20.1. The Bears are averaging 718.4 yards and 63.9 points per game.

"Great arm, great poise, throws a great ball," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "You can tell he has a great understanding of their offense and where he wants to go with everything, so he does a great job."

In Antwan Goodley and Tevin Reese, Baylor has arguably the best receiver combo in the country. Reese is second in the country in yards per catch (25.0) and Goodley is third (23.5). Both have scoring catches of more than 80 yards, and they've both crossed the goal line eight times (tied for eighth).

But the Sooners can't ignore the run either. Baylor is ranked seventh in the country on the ground, led by Lache Seastrunk, who leads the Big 12 with 124.1 yards per game.

Stoops is glad for the extra preparation time.

"Everyone realizes that Baylor is a top-five team in the country," he said. "They've got speed everywhere. And that's just offensively, where most of the talk is. Defensively, they're in the top part of the league in almost every category. It will be a big challenge. I think it's a positive that we get a few extra days (to get ready) for them."

NOTES, QUOTES

--Bob Stoops stands just one win behind Barry Switzer all-time at Oklahoma. He is 156-38-0 in 14-plus seasons. Switzer was 157-29-4 from 1973-1988.

--With no game this Saturday and the game against Baylor on Thursday, Nov. 7, Stoops employed a modified practice schedule. OU is on the practice fields Monday through Wednesday this week. Thursday and Friday the players will attend classes but not practice. Practice will resume Saturday as if it were a typical Monday practice schedule.

BYE WEEK MISSION: Rest and recuperate. The Sooners have lost several key starters to season-ending injuries, but there are plenty of banged-up players who just need to get away from football for a few days. The extra time between games also gives the coaches time to plan for Baylor's high-speed offense. The Bears are ranked first nationally in total yards, scoring, passing efficiency and yards per completion. They also have the seventh-best running game.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

--QB Blake Bell probably can't outplay Baylor's Bryce Petty, so he should focus on running the offense according to plan. The Sooners do not have a smash-mouth offense either, but the best way to keep Petty and the Bears' offense from scoring is to keep them off the field.

--RB Brennan Clay will not have his lead blocker, Trey Millard, who tore his left ACL in the victory over Texas Tech. Clay will have to find his own holes in the Baylor defense.

--DB Aaron Colvin and his mates in the secondary will need a big game to contain the Baylor passing game. Originally a question mark at the beginning of the season because of inexperience, the OU secondary is now a strength. This will be the biggest test so far.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's such a strong and important part of team as a person, a leader and a player. It's going to be hard because of the things he does. He's so versatile. It will be challenging working around all of the things he did. (He's been the) best special-teams guy for three years." -- Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops on replacing offensive co-captain and senior FB Trey Millard, who tore his left ACL in the victory over Texas Tech.
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