Rough night in Waco for the Sooners. The defense was good early but collapsed. The offense was awful from the start. You had to look hard for silver linings, and the grades reflect it.
Belldozer: F. The Sooners tried their once-efficient short-yardage formation three times. On fourth-and-1 from near midfield in the first quarter, Blake Bell was stuffed for a yard loss and OU punted. In the second quarter, OU had third-and-goal from the Baylor 2-yard line. Bell gained a yard. On fourth down, the Belldozer again was summoned, and Bell was gang-tackled for a yard loss.
Tackling in space: C. Early in the game, the Sooners did a good job of corralling the Bears in the open field. But the longer the game went on, missed tackles piled up. Quarterback Bryce Petty broke tackles at the line of scrimmage to bolt to a 20-yard gain on Baylor's first touchdown drive. Safety Gabe Lynn missed receiver Levi Norwood, who spurted to a 33-yard reception to set up Baylor's second touchdown. Tailback Shock Linwood broke multiple tackles en route to a 39-yard gain in the third quarter.
Atmosphere: A. Strange night at Floyd Casey Stadium. In the Big 12 era, the old off-campus coliseum has been as much empty as full. OU routinely has had almost as many fans as had Baylor. But Thursday night, a crowd of 50,537, the fourth-largest in Waco history, filled Floyd Casey for its next-to-last game. The blackout was a huge success, with most Baylor fans adorned in black. The old structure is going out in style.
Tailback run game: D. The Sooners' three tailbacks managed just 68 yards on 21 carries, including just 19 yards at halftime. Josh Heupel seemed to know the tailbacks would have trouble. The only runs the first two series were by the quarterbacks and a reverse from Sterling Shepard.
Pass coverage: B. Like most everything else involving the defense, the coverage was good early and porous late. Bryce Petty completed just three of nine passes midway through the second quarter. But Petty completed five of nine on Baylor's final three possessions of the first half, all touchdown drives, as OU's pass defense slowly withered. Still, Petty finished just 13 of 26 for 204 yards, a totally respectable showing by the OU defense.
Concentration D: The Sooners seemed oblivious in the first half. While Baylor had plenty of penalties, they were of aggression. OU's penalties were mental failures. Charles Tapper lined up offsides on each of Baylor's first two possessions, negating a stop and negating a first-down loss. Eric Striker jumped offsides on third-and-9 at the Baylor 8-yard line, extending a possession that became a 93-yard touchdown drive. Worse, the offense seemed clueless. OU got an illegal substitution penalty that was waived off only because the first quarter clock expired. After a second-quarter false starter, the Sooners were flagged for delay of game, setting up first-and-20 on a night when first-and-10 was challenge enough.
Blake Bell: D. Bell's passes were mostly off-target. He completed just 15 of 35 passes, with two interceptions, one of them the killer at the end of the first half that allowed Baylor to tack on a touchdown that made it a 24-5 game. Bell didn't get a lot of help from his coaches, who again brought him along slowly, with no throws past 10 yards until the second quarter. But Bell's running was no factor, either. He even fell, untouched, while running an old-fashioned option play that appeared to be prime for a big gain on the first snap of the second half.
Jalen Saunders: A. The Sooners were woefully shy of playmakers. But Saunders gave it a try. His 55-yard kickoff return after a safety set up the Sooners at the Baylor 12-yard line in the second quarter, though OU didn't get around to scoring. And then Heupel took off the shackles from Bell and had him air it out, Saunders made nifty grab for a 28-yard gain that led to a field goal. That about covers the offensive highlights.
Higher authority: A. Baylor called out the big dogs for what some called the biggest game in Waco history. Grant Teaff delivered the pregame invocation. The 21-year Baylor coach (1972-92) produced the Miracle on the Brazos team that won the 1974 Southwest Conference title coming off a 2-9 season. Now Teaff is executive director of the American Football Coaches Association in Waco.
Run defense: D. It's bad enough that OU allowed Shock Linwood to run for 182 yards on 23 carries. But consider that Linwood isn't even the Baylor starter. Linwood replaced Lache Seastrunk, who went down with an injury, in the first half. And it wasn't all missed tackles. Much of the time, Baylor just blocked or schemed Linwood to running room.