No. 13 smashed the unbeaten No. 8 Baylor to Oklahoma 27-14 in perhaps the worst showing of the Lincoln Riley era. The Sooners set new bottoms in the points and yards under Riley as the Bears carried them to just 260 yards.
Quarterback Caleb Williams soon began completing just 10 of 19 passes for 146 yards and two interceptions before being cleared out in the second half for Spencer Rattler. However, Ratler also struggled to find any momentum against Baylor’s physical defense.
Eighty-yard Oklahoma came on a trash pick-up after plummeting three degrees late in the fourth quarter. Heading into this engine, the Bears held the race at just 4.3 yards per game. Baylor scored 9 tackles for a loss and 5 sacks, including a pair of sacks from midfield Terrell Bernard.
Baylor’s attack also struggled in the first half, but the game was turned upside down when quarterback Jerry Bohannon got into a jog, finishing the game with 104 yards and two touchdowns over eight innings. He also threw for 117 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Running back Abram Smith added 148 yards, including a 75-yard breakaway in the second inning.
This win complemented the impressive performance that Baylor coach Dave Aranda had against Riley. Before Saturday’s loss, the worst performance came from a Riley-led attack against Baylor 2-7 in 2020 (269 yards). Aranda’s LSU 2019 defense also halted Riley’s attack at 322 yards in the College Football Playoff semifinals, resulting in one of the Sooners’ worst performances in recent years.
Oklahoma still has to play against Oklahoma State 10 and Iowa State to earn a trip to the Big 12 Championship Game. Baylor lost to Oklahoma State, but a tiebreaker over the Sooners still gave him a path to winning the Big 12 title.
Here are the points from Saturday’s turmoil in Waco…
1. Oklahoma CFP Hopes for Life Support
The Sooners didn’t play a team with a conference winning record until Saturday. The double-digit loss to two-time loser Baylor puts Oklahoma firmly in the hot seat in terms of its playoff hopes. The loss will likely push the Sooners closer to Wake Forest than Oregon or Ohio in terms of how the selection committee views them.
Yes, Oklahoma has lost a regular season game before and played in the playoffs, but losing this time feels different.
Oklahoma still has critical encounters against Oklahoma State and Iowa State on the schedule, but that may not be enough to bring him back into the first group after several poor performances. Mind you: This is the same team that needed a miracle to beat Kansas. Time is running out in Oklahoma with only a few weeks left in the regular season.
2. Dave Aranda has the number Lincoln Riley
Good performance is instant. Three good performances is the trend. For the third time, Aranda’s defense kept Riley’s attack at historic lows. The 260 yards is Oklahoma’s worst performance since Riley took over as offensive coordinator in 2015.
Aranda Williams pursued, as the QB superstar handily carried his worst performance since taking the starting stint. Importantly, Baylor choked the Oklahoma lunge game, carrying it to 78 yards and 2.8 yards per carry. In Aranda’s two games at Baylor, the urgent team hit only 269 and 260 yards—the first came in the 2-7 season in Waco.
3. Oklahoma Issues Deeper Than QB
With the choppy attack, Riley threw both Williams and Ratler into the match to try to build some offensive momentum. But when the offensive line is bullied and their backs are contained, there’s not much any quarterback can do to fix it. Several receivers had drops and the combined run for only 55 yards sped up in 14 attempts.
Oklahoma found some offensive consistency against TCU, Kansas and Texas Tech – three of the worst defenses in the Big 12 – after switching to Williams. But with 23 goals against Nebraska, 16 against West Virginia, and now 14 against Baylor, the Sooners may be structurally flawed.
4. Baylor can win the Big 12 competition
If the Bears didn’t lose sight of the TCU a week ago, they might have a strong argument for the top 12 Big 12 team. But while the program does need some help earning a trip to the Big 12, the path is still very open for Baylor to win the Big 12.
Baylor has now racked up wins against 8th-seeded Oklahoma and Iowa State, two of the three teams vying against them to reach the big 12 title match. The only loss on the road came against Oklahoma State, which still has competitions remaining with TCU, Texas Tech and Oklahoma.
The final stretch of the Big 12 title race could turn wild, and Baylor is also poised to emerge victorious if the Sooners once again slide down the extension.
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