WACO, Texas — It's become an all-too-familiar sight for Oklahoma and its fans this season, an opposing receiver running free down the middle of the field against the Sooners.
Typically, though, it's something that happens once or twice a game. It's a blip more than anything.
But that wasn't the case here Saturday night. The exception became the norm in Baylor's 45-38 upset of OU – from start to finish, literally.
The Bears had seven plays of more than 20 yards - four of them more than 50 yards – in the 45-38 upset that ended on a 34-yard touchdown from Robert Griffin III to Terrance Williams.
At least Williams was covered, by backup safety Sam Proctor. That didn't often happen on those types of plays.
And, stunningly, it could have been worse for OU.
Safety Javon Harris was beaten on the second play of the game – what would have been a 79-yard touchdown from Griffin to Kendall Wright – but a hold negated it.
Later, in the third quarter, Williams dropped what would have been a 48-yard touchdown. Two possessions later, Griffin overthrew a wide-open Tevin Reese on what would have been an 85-yard score.
Yes. It was that bad.
Oklahoma has miserably failed both tests against the best passing offenses on the schedule so far, giving up a combined 931 yards through the air against Texas Tech and Baylor.
Against Tech, it was the corners – minus injured senior Jamell Fleming – being picked on. That was an anomaly, however. Most of the year, it's been breakdowns by the safeties.
The recurring nature of the problems is the most perplexing part of the whole thing. Remember the opener? The conversation regarding the OU defensive effort against Tulsa was largely related to Harris' play – and mistakes.
The thought was that it didn't hurt the Sooners against TU, but it could later in the year against better opponents. That turned out to be true in late November against a team that had never beaten the Sooners.
Like so many other teams in the conference – or country, for that matter – Baylor has proved to be schizophrenic, looking starkly different from week to week. There's no doubting the quality of the offensive personnel, but the Bears have looked hapless at times offensively.
Example: They scored three points in the first three quarters two weeks ago at Kansas, needing overtime – and a failed KU two-point conversion – to beat the 2-9 Jayhawks.
Baylor put it all together Saturday against the Sooners. But, boy, the Bears had help.
It's tough singling out a player, but Harris has been the goat on a number of these plays throughout the season. He gets turned around fairly easily and, by the time he reacts, the receiver is well past him.
In recent weeks, Travis Lewis has been covering the receiver, expecting help from Harris. But, each time, Harris has been out of position and Lewis – and then Harris – wind up chasing the receiver all the way down the field. It happened with Ryan Swope against Texas A&M. Happened a couple of times Saturday night.
The players then wind up bickering at one another after the play, which is no good, either. Harris caught an earful from Bob Stoops, Brent Venables and secondary coach Willie Martinez – all at the same time – at one point. He's been capable of big, big plays to help the Sooners – and equally capable of allowing big, big plays.
An ankle injury sidelined Harris late. It could provide for more snaps this week for Proctor. Perhaps OU looks at Tony Jefferson at safety, also, depending on how his knee sprain is progressing.
It's been baffling to see this happen all season to the Sooners. Especially witnessing the zenith – maybe? – of the breakdowns in Game 10. You'd think the issues would be ironed out by late November.
With a freshman quarterback still finding his way, Iowa State doesn't figure to vertically stretch the Sooners this week. But Oklahoma State is on deck.
The Sooners had better figure out something by Dec. 3, unless they want to look at Justin Blackmon's back.