Friday, November 1, 2013
Quick start, Bell will be key for Sooners
By Brandon Chatmon
NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma will enter its showdown with Baylor as the clear underdog. When the Sooners arrive at Floyd Casey Stadium on Nov. 7, they will look up at the Bears in the BCS rankings and Big 12 standings.
Here are five things the Sooners need to do if they hope to pull off the upset.
Start quickly. The Sooners offense has been, er, substandard in the first quarter this season. OU has been outscored 45-33 in eight first quarters yet somehow has won seven of eight games. Their offense is averaging 4.1 points, 4.98 yards per play and converting 26.7 percent of its third down attempts in the first quarter. If they start that way against Baylor, they risk being run out of the stadium.
Quarterback Blake Bell can take a huge step forward with a solid performance against Baylor.
Control the game. OU needs to control the game in every aspect possible. By keeping possession and keeping BU's offense on the sideline, by winning the field position battle and by winning the turnover battle. OU's running game is equipped to control the clock and keep Bryce Petty, Lache Seastrunk and the Bears' high-scoring offense off the field, and its defense features the athletes to create a turnover or two, but the Sooners will need to improve their coverage units (OU allows 17.81 yards per punt return) to win the field position battle. They also cannot afford to turn the ball over on offense.
Be prepared to adapt. Baylor has something up its sleeve that the Sooners have not seen yet. Why would Baylor's offense break out anything special during its first seven games? The Bears didn't need it. So expect something new against the Sooners defense, which means OU needs to be ready to react and adapt in the middle of the game. In-game adjustments will be critical against the Bears and playing as a team will be just as important.
Bell play well. Quarterback Blake Bell came to OU to quarterback the Sooners to a championship. He can take a step toward his goal by playing well in a huge Top 10 matchup against the Bears. Bell has been up and down this season, with strong performances against Texas Tech and Notre Dame and a terrible showing in the Sooners' lone loss to Texas. Not only could an all-conference-type performance from Bell catapult OU into the thick of the Big 12 title race, it could secure his starting spot for the long-term.
Win on third down. OU's worst games offensively have been rooted in their lack of success on third down. A big reason they were able to knock off Texas Tech was their 7-of-14 third-down conversions while holding the Red Raiders to 5-of-14 conversions. The Sooners defense, in particular, must win on third down, because the chances of OU winning a shootout are slim and none. Baylor is converting 55.8 percent of its third down attempts, so that's easier said than done.
If OU can do these five things, they could have a fun plane ride home from Waco.