Final thoughts on the Oklahoma Sooners matchup with the Baylor Bears

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There’s no more important game than the one in front of the Oklahoma Sooners as they get set to face the Baylor Bears today as part of Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff. At the same time, today’s matchup in Waco sets the stage for the next month of the Sooners’ season.

Each game from now until the Big 12 championship will be a high-profile matchup as the Oklahoma Sooners look to make their case for inclusion in the College Football Playoff.

Today they face their toughest test of the season in the Baylor Bears. A win this week will help the Oklahoma Sooners make their case as one of the best four teams in the country.

Let’s take a look at this week’s final thoughts as the Oklahoma Sooners look to continue their undefeated season against the Baylor Bears.

Getting healthy at the right time

Two weeks ago, the Oklahoma Sooners saw the returns of D.J. Graham, Mario Williams, and Jalen Redmond to the lineup. This week they have a chance to get back two more key contributors in Woodi Washington and Michael Woods.

The dialogue on Washington has been back and forth. First, on Monday, Lincoln Riley said it would be a “bit of a reach” to get Washington and wide receiver Theo Wease back this week. Then on Tuesday, defensive coordinator Alex Grinch stated that Washington was trending in the right direction.

If the Sooners can get Washington back for the stretch run, that would be huge for their defense, who’s been patching things together on the outside. Key Lawrence played great in his first game at corner and has a chance to be good, but Washington’s this team’s best cornerback. They need him out there.

On Michael Woods, he took to his Twitter account to update us that he’s “back active” for week 11. After the TCU Horned Frogs just lit up the Bears defense through the air, the Oklahoma Sooners passing attack must be licking its chops. Having Woods back on the outside helps provide another big-play option in the passing game for Caleb Williams.

Passing Game at the Forefront

Against Texas Tech, the Oklahoma Sooners struggled to run the football. At the same time, they didn’t give it much of a chance against the Red Raiders. It didn’t matter, of course, as Caleb Williams put on a show throwing for 402 yards and six touchdowns.

Williams proved he could shoulder the load when the running game wasn’t up to the standard that the Oklahoma Sooners expect for themselves. While we hope the running game can get back on track after down weeks against Kansas and Texas Tech, knowing that Caleb Williams can carry the load is huge for the Oklahoma Sooners down the stretch.

After Baylor just allowed TCU quarterback Chandler Morris to throw for more than 460 yards in his first collegiate start, Lincoln Riley should come out guns blazing against Baylor to keep the defense on its heels after last week’s performance.

Open up the passing game and let Caleb Williams, Marvin Mims, Mario Williams, and Michael Woods attack the Bears down the field. With the Sooners’ talent on the outside, the pass threat can help open things up for the running game to get some easier yards.

Getting the Running Game going

The Baylor Bears boast the 35th ranked run defense in the country. It will be no easy task running on the Bears’ defense. At the same time, they’ve got to figure something out as the Iowa State Cyclones currently have the 11th ranked run defense, and the Cowboys will put the fourth-ranked run defense on the field in Bedlam.

They’ve had subpar performances in back-to-back games against Kansas and Texas Tech, which could be setting up a trend. Kansas and Tech sold out against the run in the hopes of putting the game in Caleb Williams’ hands. As teams continue to see the dynamic ability of Williams, perhaps they’ll respect him a bit more and back off of the running game.

However, defensive coordinators are built from a similar cloth. They’ll think their scheme is the one that will confuse, frustrate, and force the true freshman quarterback into mistakes.

The running game needs to be able to take some pressure off of Caleb Williams.

The Bears’ defense loves to throw a variety of blitz looks at the quarterback. The best way to get a defense on its heels is to have balance. If the Sooners can’t get the running game going, it puts Caleb Williams and the offense in a one-dimensional state, which defensive coordinators long for.

Need to Keep Seeing it

The Oklahoma Sooners defense played great its last time out. While the final score showed 21 points, the Texas Tech Red Raiders didn’t score their second touchdown until the end of the third quarter. Their final points were scored in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter.

Effectively, the Sooners’ defense held the Red Raiders’ offense in check while the game was still in doubt. That’s the kind of defensive performance we’ve been looking for from this team all season.

Now, the healthiest they’ve been since the beginning of the season, the Sooners’ defense needs to start stacking performances on top of each other over the final month of the season. With the competition heating up as the temperatures drop, the Oklahoma Sooners need the defense to hold up their end of the bargain in games against Baylor, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State.

"Championship November" Starts Now

The Oklahoma Sooners are 9-0. Arguably the most disrespected undefeated team we’ve seen in the College Football Playoff era. It won’t matter if they take care of business in November on their way to playing for a seventh straight Big 12 championship.

The Oklahoma Sooners are in “just-win” mode. Would it be nice to collect some style points along the way? Absolutely. But all Oklahoma needs to worry about is winning and letting the playoff rankings take care of themselves.

The Sooners haven’t lost a November game since 2014. Lincoln Riley’s Sooners are undefeated in November. Now’s the time for them to play their best football.

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