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If this was a race, the Sooners are approaching the final lap — no more cruise control, no more distance running. It’s time to pick those knees up, pump those arms and sprint to the finish line. Despite their second consecutive eighth-place ranking in the College Football Playoff rankings, the Sooners have a very real shot at making the playoffs as long as they run the table.
That starts with a win against the Baylor Bears this weekend.
The Baylor Bears are looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss to the TCU Horned Frogs. Coming off their bye week, the Sooners are looking to extend their winning streak with their trip to Waco.
To get ready for Saturday’s “Big Noon Kickoff” game on Fox, here are 5 reasons the Oklahoma Sooners win on Saturday.
Oklahoma has the more talented QB
Caleb Williams #13 of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrates his touchdown against the Kansas Jayhawks in the fourth quarter at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Oct. 23, 2021 in Lawrence, Kansas. Kyle Rivas/Getty Images
Look, Gerry Bohannon is a solid quarterback for the Baylor Bears. However, if Saturday was any indication, the Sooners would rather the game be decided on Bohannon’s arm instead of letting their talented running backs do the heavy lifting.
Meanwhile, the Sooners’ season outlook changed because of a switch at quarterback.
Caleb Williams has been cooking under center since becoming the starter. His last time out he threw for over 400 yards and 6 touchdowns. Baylor’s pass defense is only ranked 80th nationally and just let Chandler Morris light it up in his first collegiate start.
With the more talented and explosive QB, look for Williams to keep coming up big as he has since he earned the starting job midseason.
Nik Bonitto will make another big play to significantly impact the game
Dec. 7, 2019; Arlington, Texas; Oklahoma Sooners linebacker Nik Bonitto (35) tackles Baylor Bears quarterback Charlie Brewer (12) during the first quarter in the 2019 Big 12 Championship Game at AT&T Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Nik Bonitto’s Oklahoma career really got going when he made his game-sealing interception to complete a comeback for the ages when the Sooners last visited Waco with Jalen Hurts under center.
Oklahoma was fighting for its playoff lives then, and it is doing the same now. Nik Bonitto is the best defensive player on the field for Oklahoma, and it will make an impact much as he did in their last trip to Waco.
Lincoln Riley is a wizard in November
Nov. 16, 2019; Waco, Texas; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley watches his team take on the Baylor Bears during the second half at McLane Stadium. Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Championship November is very real.
Peaking in September does nothing for a team that has national title aspirations. However, playing your best and most complete football during the stretch run as the title races heat up is the sign of a really good coach.
Riley has won games in every form and fashion during Novembers past. He will have his troops ready. It also helps Oklahoma is getting healthier at some key positions heading into the matchup.
His Sooners are 14-0 in the month of November and have beaten six ranked opponents during Riley’s tenure. Point blank, Lincoln Riley finds ways to get it done in November, and until he shows us otherwise, you have to keep riding the hot hand.
The Sooners defensive line had time to regroup
Sept. 11, 2021; Norman; Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Isaiah Thomas (95) and defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey (8) celebrate during the third quarter against the Western Carolina Catamounts at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
The foundation of the Sooners’ defense is the defensive line. The group had been mired in a slump, struggling to generate splash plays or effectively pressure opposing quarterbacks.
The performance against Texas Tech provided some confidence the group could indeed regain that form.
The Bears boast a rushing attack centered around running back tandem Abram Smith and Trestan Ebner, who have combined for 1,656 rushing yards this season.
Both backs present unique challenges, but if the Sooners’ defensive line shows up as it did earlier in the season, there’s reason to believe the Sooners neutralize this potent running game and walk out of Waco 10-0.
Kennedy Brooks has himself a game
Oct. 23, 2021; Lawrence, Kansas; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Caleb Williams (13) takes the ball from running back Kennedy Brooks (26) as Kansas Jayhawks linebacker Rich Miller (30) defends during the second half at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
We talked about the Baylor running backs and the quarterbacks involved in this game. The Sooners have a running back worthy of praise themselves.
In Oklahoma’s last game, the passing game carried the load. Kennedy Brooks and the Sooners running game wasn’t effective against Texas Tech, but they didn’t get a ton of opportunities the way Caleb Williams was slinging the football.
The Oklahoma Sooners may opt to lean on Brooks early to control the pace of the game and establish a physical tone with their offensive line. This week seems like a great opportunity for a bounce-back game for Brooks and the offensive line.
Though Baylor’s rushing attack may be getting the praise heading into this matchup, Brooks is the superior runner. Look for him to be a major factor in the Oklahoma Sooners’ win.