WACO, Texas — Bob Stoops won't admit it, but the last time his ball team played at Floyd Casey, enough became enough.
The last straw holding Mike Stoops from returning to the Sooner sidelines? It broke a little before 11 p.m. on Nov. 19, 2011. About the time Robert Griffin scrambled around and fired a 34-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Williams with eight seconds left in a game won by Baylor 45-38.
OU's defensive vulnerability was never so exposed as that night in Waco, and soon enough, Mike Stoops was summoned from Arizona exile to help out big brother. Get the band back together.
But Thursday night, as the Sooners return to Floyd Casey Stadium for a top-10 showdown, Mike Stoops' defensive acumen won't help all that much. Baylor has an offense that rises above defensive tricks.
Art Briles' offense splits receivers almost to the sideline on both sides, often with a teammate in the slot nearby. Defenses are stretched thin, creating running lanes for a shifty tailback.
Outsmarting that offense won't work.
“You can only do so much, in that you still, when they line two guys all the way out there,” Stoops said, pointing one way, “and all the way out there (pointing another), you gotta go out and cover ‘em.
“There's only so many guys left. You gotta be able to stop the run game with what's in here.”
See what Stoops is saying? You don't outscheme Baylor. You have to outperform the Bears.
Tackle well. Stick with your man. Stay in your zone in the middle to patch up those running lanes created by Baylor's spread offense.
Briles' offense has transformed the Baptist university that not so long ago was fighting for its conference-affiliation life but now is clamoring to reach the national championship game.
The 2013 Bears remain untested — a 35-25 victory at now 4-4 Kansas State is Baylor's best win — but they have clobbered foes to the extent of 64 points and 718 yards a game.
Bryce Petty has emerged as the lone elite quarterback in the Big 12, Lache Seastrunk leads the league in rushing and the Bears have a battalion of game-breaking receivers.
It's a mission fit only for the stingiest of defenses. OU has played solid defense most of this season but has faced nothing like the Baylor challenge, and the wounds of recent defensive embarrassments — Baylor 2011, West Virginia and OSU 2012 — remain fresh.
Can OU summon a herculean performance, like the night OU swamped Florida State 13-2 in the national championship game 13 years ago? Or the 16-13 staredown with Colt McCoy and Texas in 2009. Or the several stoppages of Mike Leach's machine?
Mike Stoops at least has OU in the right alignment. The Sooners went to the 3-4-4 defense, or the 3-3-5, because of Baylor and the other spread teams. The old 4-3 just wasn't fit for this conference.
“We felt it gave us more versatility,” Bob Stoops said. “It played to our strengths better. It put more speed on the field.”
This alignment against Baylor's spread reduces the mental aspect of the game. This will be a physical confrontation.
“No question,” Stoops said. “Being able to cover people, tackle in space. Same thing inside. Being able to make plays when you're there to make plays.”
Mike Stoops, who was not on the OU payroll the last time the Sooners came to Floyd Casey, will have his defenders lined up correctly. But then it's out of his hands and up to them.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.