WACO, Texas — Baylor leads Oklahoma 24-5 at halftime of Thursday’s game inside Floyd Casey Stadium. Here are some first-half thoughts, notes and statistics as we head into the third quarter.
THREE THINGS THAT STOOD OUT
* Oklahoma’s late first-half offensive strategy
… made absolutely no sense. For that matter, the Sooners’ offensive strategy for the entire first half made no sense. An Oklahoma running back didn’t get a carry until the 3:42 mark in the first quarter. Trevor Knight randomly came into the game on a couple occasions, but didn’t stay in long enough to establish much rhythm.
Oklahoma led 5-3, then got the ball back when Baylor’s Aaron Jones missed a 52-yard field goal. The Sooners moved downfield quickly on a 28-yard strike to Jalen Saunders — by far the most impressive OU offensive play so far — but then threw four straight incomplete passes. Baylor went 69 yards in 5 plays and scored a touchdown.
The Sooners got the ball back with 7:02 left in the first half, but took only 2:49 off the clock before they punted back to Baylor. The Bears went 93 yards in nine plays — taking only 3:13 — and scored again.
Bell’s very next pass was intercepted, setting up another quick Baylor touchdown drive. And all of a sudden, the Bears had all the momentum and a huge lead going into halftime.
Consider this — the Sooners ran seven plays inside the Baylor 12-yard line, and got three points out of them. Three.
The Oklahoma defense looked spectacular early, save for a couple silly offside penalties. But because the Sooner offense didn’t stay on the field and give their defensive counterparts much of a break, Baylor was able to establish rhythm and start gashing a worn-out OU defense. Baylor is winning the time of possession battle, and you can’t beat Baylor if you lose in that category.
Blake Bell made one really nice throw. Outside of that, he’s struggled mightily in this game. Trevor Knight has come in on a few occasions, but has only recorded four rushes for 17 yards. Why not leave him in longer, let him get going a little bit and maybe run some time off the clock?
Meanwhile, Baylor’s Bryce Petty rebounded from a slow start and played excellent in the second quarter. He threw one touchdown and rushed for two.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR IN THE SECOND HALF
* Oklahoma’s fight
Oklahoma was very much in this game until the last few minutes of the first half. A comeback seems highly unlikely, but it will be interesting to see how the Sooners respond in this situation. Will they keep fighting, or will they give up and let this thing get even uglier?
* Trevor Knight
Because Oklahoma is so far behind, I think it will have to keep Blake Bell in the game because of his better arm. But after the way the first half ended, will the Sooner coaches maintain their faith in Bell?
* Baylor’s rhythm
Now that Baylor has established its offensive rhythm and gained some momentum, I’m interested to see how effective quarterback Bryce Petty and the Bears are after the break. If they keep playing the way they did at the end of the half, this thing could get really, really ugly — and fast.
Offense: QB Blake Bell; HB Brennan Clay; FB Aaron Ripkowski; WR Jalen Saunders; WR Trey Franks; WR Sterling Shepard; OT Tyrus Thompson; OG Bronson Irwin; C Gabe Ikard; OG Adam Shead; OT Daryl Williams.
Defense: DE Chuka Ndulue; DT Jordan Wade; DE Charles Tapper; LB Eric Striker; LB Frank Shannon; LB Dominique Alexander; CB Aaron Colvin; FS Gabe Lynn; SS Quentin Hayes; NB Julian Wilson; CB Zack Zanchez.
HALFTIME STATISTICAL LEADERS
Passing — OU: Blake Bell 7-16, 65 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT; Baylor: Bryce Petty 8-18, 126 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT.
Rushing — OU: Trevor Knight 4-17, Brennan Clay 3-12; Baylor: Shock Linwood 7-39, Bryce Petty 12-37, 2 TD.
Receiving — OU: Jalen Saunders 4-48, Damien Williams 2-12; Baylor: Antwan Goodley 4-40, 1 TD, Levi Norwood 2-51.
Tackles — OU: Frank Shannon 9, Quentin Hayes 7; Baylor: Ahmad Dixon 5, Eddie Lackey 5.