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A rested and motivated team should board the bus to head to Waco from Norman, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Sooners come off their bye in prime position to make a national splash and within their own conference. A win against a top-25 foe can help change the narrative about who Oklahoma is to this point.
It won’t be easy as the Baylor Bears represent the best opponent Oklahoma has played to date. They are well balanced and have equally strong units offensively and defensively. Defensively, Baylor ranks No. 81 nationally in passing defense. There are plays to be made there. However, there are a few keys to this game that ultimately decide how Oklahoma’s offense will look and perform come Saturday.
Lincoln Riley has to show up
What’s about to be said sounds crazy, but just think about it: Lincoln Riley has to show up Saturday. As in, the wizard play-caller Lincoln Riley. Riley’s been stymied by the defense with Aranda’s fingerprints over it a few times now.
The Peach Bowl when the Sooners faced LSU was one example and last year’s game in Norman was another. Yes, Ron Roberts is the defensive coordinator but there’s no reason to believe Aranda doesn’t have input.
Baylor has found ways to pressure Oklahoma quarterbacks and confuse those same quarterbacks with the coverage looks they show them. Riley comes in with a true freshman in a raucous environment. Making things easy and crafting a game plan that keeps him out of situations where he has to be Superman every play is key.
That falls on Riley’s shoulders. We’ll see how the head coach responds.
Cool Hand Caleb
If you’ve never seen the movie Cool Hand Luke, go watch it. It’s one of the best films ever.
The reason it’s brought up here is simple. Caleb needs to become his own version of Cool Hand Luke. In the film, the main character refuses to submit to the order and the pressure of the world he’s thrust into. He navigates his way through and has the last laugh.
The Sooners will need their true freshman to do the same. This isn’t Kansas. This is a very motivated and highly disruptive Baylor team with a fighting chance to go to the Big 12 championship game.
The sparkplug that galvanized Oklahoma’s season will have to be the guy who plays as close to mistake-free football as possible and is able to lead his team to a win in a hostile environment. Any failures to communicate between quarterback and his offense and the Sooners could be in for a long afternoon.
Offensive Line must take ownership
It’s safe to say that the Oklahoma Sooners have a plethora of playmakers now. Mike Woods will be returning as well to add to a receiver room oozing with confidence.
However, the foundation of this offense is its offensive line. There’s a lot of starts on this line amongst left guard Marquis Hayes, right tackle Tyrese Robinson and right guard Chris Murray.
All three have started at least two years worth of power five football games. Andrew Raym remains the most unseasoned of the Sooner starters. This offensive line will need to play their best game against one of the best defensive front sevens in the country to help out their quarterback.
If Caleb has to bail from the pocket every pass attempt or the Sooners aren’t able to run the ball, this game could get weird in the worst way very fast. The leadership and vet presence of their experienced linemen is where Oklahoma will have to win the game.
If those guys show up and continue performing at the level they have been, Oklahoma can put together some drives and win this game.
There’s a very visible path Oklahoma can take to win this game. Championship November is here and players and coaches alike for Oklahoma will need to raise their game even more if the Sooners are going to win the month.