NORMAN— Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops insists that giving up yards in run defense is how you have to defend prolific passing attacks, and said so several times Saturday.
That philosophy almost proved costly; Baylor rushed for more yards (252) — and scored more points — than any Oklahoma opponent this season, but the Sooners still escaped with a 42-34 win on Owen Field.
“You have to make them hand the ball off and hope you can come up with your third-down stops, fourth-down stops,” Stoops said. “Overall, we did that.”
Oklahoma surrendered four rushing scores to unranked Baylor, which added a touchdown and 2-point conversion with 1:25 left to pull within eight points of forcing overtime.
Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops wasn’t nearly as positive about the performance as his brother.
“It was a tough night defensively in a lot of areas,” Mike Stoops said. “We never could grasp their run game, and anytime a team can run the football on you, it’s gonna be a long night. We got out-executed pretty badly in the run game and that’s something we need to evaluate as a staff.”
It was smooth sailing early for the Sooners. Oklahoma opened with an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, capped by Landry Jones’ 5-yard touchdown pass to Brennan Clay about five minutes into the game.
Baylor’s first series ended with 3 points — earned on Aaron Jones’ 58-yard field goal — but Bears quarterback Nick Florence completed just two of his six pass attempts, and Baylor’s two first downs on the drive were each the result of Oklahoma penalties.
Then Baylor committed to the ground game.
Baylor attempted just three rushes in the first quarter, but finished with 51 attempts. Sophomore Lache Seastrunk rushed for 91 yards and three touchdowns, and Florence’s surprising efficiency on quarterback keepers kept OU’s defense on its heels through the final three quarters.
After averaging about eight carries and 34 yards before Saturday, Florence rushed for 83 yards on 15 attempts against the Sooners.
“They ran more quarterback draw than they have all year,” Mike Stoops said.
“Their run game, we couldn’t stop it inside and we couldn’t stop it outside. That needs to be addressed, and that was the most disappointing element. Our tackling, I thought, was atrocious all night. ... They exposed some areas that we need to tighten up.”
Florence, averaging over 350 yards passing this season, finished 12 of 33 for 172 yards and no passing touchdowns.