WACO, Texas — Several Oklahoma defenders bounced around at midfield, confidently nodding their heads after a brief squabble with Baylor players during pregame warm-ups.
The Sooner defense backed that up early, holding the nation's best offense firmly in check for the first quarter-and-a-half.
By the end of the game, though, a handful of important defenders were bruised and battered on the sideline, sophomore defensive end Charles Tapper had been ejected for punching an opponent and the unit found itself exhausted and frustrated by No. 6 Baylor's 41-12 rout Thursday night at Floyd Casey Stadium.
“To beat a team like Baylor, you have to play great as a team,” said defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. “And we didn't play good enough today as a team in all aspects, really. It gets down to everything. Offense, defense, special teams.”
None of Oklahoma's players or coaches would explicitly say it, but Baylor gained all its momentum — and most of its offensive yards and points — after the Sooners' offense couldn't stay on the field long enough to give its defense time to rest.
The OU defense forced Baylor to punt on two of its first three offensive possessions, and the Sooner offense moved into the red zone after several personal foul penalties were called against Baylor late in the first quarter.
But Oklahoma's offense failed on a fourth-down attempt from the Baylor 1-yard line, getting no points out of its first opportunity to take a lead.
Two plays later, freshman linebacker Dominique Alexander sacked Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty in the end zone for a safety. Jalen Saunders returned the ensuing free kick to the Baylor 12, but the offense again bungled a golden opportunity and settled for a field goal and a 5-3 lead.
The Baylor offense continued to struggle, though, missing a 52-yard field goal attempt on the next drive. Oklahoma responded by taking just 1:27 off the clock and missing a field-goal attempt of its own, giving Baylor the ball back midway through the second quarter.