The Oklahoma Sooners just barely escaped against the Iowa State Cyclones on Saturday as Parnell Motley intercepted a two-point conversion attempt in the final moments that would have put the Cyclones ahead with less 30 seconds to play.
It was an ugly performance for Oklahoma really in all facets and has left a lot of people questioning if this Oklahoma team is worthy of the College Football Playoff discussion, which is certainly reasonable.
With two weeks to prepare for Brock Purdy and the Iowa State offense, to get dominated like they did in the second half is virtually inexcusable. Not to mention the sloppy play of Jalen Hurts and the Oklahoma offense, which just makes the team overall feel very vulnerable right now.
But, that being said, they did this last season too. They barely pulled out a home Bedlam win against an inferior Oklahoma State team, and allowed the pre-Les Miles Kansas Jayhawks to hang a 40-burger on them. It did not matter then and it very well may not matter now, time will tell on that front.
Turning attention to this week now, the Sooners face perhaps their toughest test of the season as they travel to Waco to take on the #13 Baylor Bears.
At the time of writing this article, Oklahoma is somewhat surprisingly a 10-point road favorite over the Bears, but should they be? Let’s break down this matchup a bit and see if OU is deserving of that spread:
Road Favorite Against a 9-0 Team?
OU has played their two worst games of the year in their last two. The defense has severely struggled and the offense has not looked the same despite going for 40+ points both times.
They are one play from having dropped two straight and this season being looked at as a disaster, but they managed to hang on by the skin of their teeth.
Baylor, meanwhile, is a bit of an enigma. On one hand, they are 9-0. You literally can’t do any better than 9 wins and 0 losses after 9 games.
Matt Rhule has done a truly insane job getting Baylor to this point after they were a 1-11 (!) dumpster fire just two seasons ago.
On the other hand, almost nobody with eyes outside of Waco thinks Baylor is very good. The committee certainly doesn’t, giving the Bears a #13 ranking despite the 9-0 record, which is the lowest any Power 5 9-0 team has had in the CFP era.
So how good Baylor actually is…is very debatable.
Baylor Has Struggled with Bad Teams at Home
The main source of the Baylor doubt really stems from their close calls this year with bad teams at home.
It took double overtime for the Bears to squeak by Texas Tech (who Oklahoma beat 55-16) and it look a fourth quarter field goal to lift them over West Virginia (who Oklahoma beat 52-14) on Halloween night.
Add in the underwhelming 21-13 win over Rice early in the season, and the Bears have led the league in unimpressive wins.
But, to be fair, they pantsed Kansas State in Manhattan 31-12 and took it to Oklahoma State in Stillwater…which is why I said Baylor is an enigma. Sometimes they look great, other times…not especially.
The Bears are in a precarious position despite being undefeated, very likely needing help to make the College Football Playoff even if they run the table the rest of the way. Meaning Baylor not only needs to win this game to be considered, but probably look pretty good doing it.
So…Does the Line Make Any Sense?
In my opinion, not really.
Oklahoma is better than Baylor and should win the game. But in Waco, with the Bears so far having literally not lost a game, I am very surprised OU is considered the solid favorite.
I think the Sooners should be the road favorites, but to say this is a slam dunk for OU feels like a bit much.
Could I see Oklahoma going into Waco and making a statement in front of a national audience? 100%. It honestly would not surprise me in the least to see Oklahoma win this game by 20+ points…but it wouldn’t exactly surprise me if they lost this game either.
The 2019 Oklahoma Sooners have been hard to read for most of the year, and especially lately it feels like you don’t know what you are getting week to week.
It seemed like last week had all the makings to be an opportunity for OU to rid themselves of the shame of the K State loss: home game, at night, after a bye week, against a solid opponent.
But that is obviously not what happened, with the general opinion of Oklahoma going down along with their CFP ranking despite the win.
OU is correctly the favorites over Baylor this weekend, but that was also true of the last two games where the opinion of Oklahoma was significantly altered in a negative way at the end of the day.
This is probably the hardest game of the season to figure out what to expect from it.
Baylor has been largely squeaking by all season long, never really having a very strong performance on their home turf. But, Oklahoma is a team that seems like they are regressing.
In past seasons, it seemed the Sooners steadily improved down the stretch and were always playing their best ball at the end of the year.
This team still certainly has time to do that, but so far “Championship November” is off to an ugly start. This is the game that likely will define what Oklahoma is going to be in 2019: a Big 12 Champion and CFP contender, or a disappointing team that had so much promise at the beginning.
As bad as the Sooners have looked the past couple of games, I expect Oklahoma to go into Waco and do what they have always done in November under Lincoln Riley: get the job done and win the football game.
The #10 Oklahoma Sooners travel to Waco to take on the #13 Baylor Bears this Saturday night at McLane Stadium at 6:30 on ABC and can be heard over the air as always right here on 107.7 The Franchise.