College GameDay will be on hand in Waco for the first time since 2015 for the Oklahoma and Baylor game on Saturday. This matchup could be a Big 12 championship preview as the Sooners and Bears are the only teams in the conference with less than two conference losses.
Oklahoma (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) suffered its lone loss of the season two weeks ago against Kansas State, but bounced back with a 42-41 win over Iowa State last week. The Sooners were ranked No. 10 in the most recent College Football Playoff rankings.
Simply put, Oklahoma has the most dynamic offense in the country. The Sooners rank first nationally in total offense, averaging 587.3 yards per game, and second in scoring offense at 48.4 points per game. Senior transfer quarterback Jalen Hurts is a Heisman Trophy candidate as he leads the nation in total offense at 401.2 yards per game, which is more than 57 major college football teams average per game. Hurts has 39 total touchdowns, 24 passing and 15 rushing, and is the only player nationally with four games of two-plus rushing touchdowns and two-plus passing scores. Hurts has the benefit of throwing the ball to one of the best receivers in the country in junior CeeDee Lamb. Through nine games this year, Lamb has posted team highs of 44 catches, 983 receiving yards and 13 receiving touchdowns. He’s tied for the national lead in receiving TDs and ranks fifth in yards per reception (22.3) and ninth in receiving yards per game (109.2).
The Sooner defense looked much improved from a year ago until the last two weeks, when Oklahoma allowed 48 and 41 points, respectively. The Sooners had held six of seven opponents under 360 total yards to start the year, but gave up 497 yards in the loss to Kansas State and 477 to Iowa State last week. The key playmaker for Oklahoma on defense is junior linebacker Kenneth Murray. A three-year starter, Murray was named the 2019 Preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and has been named a semifinalist for the Butkus and Bednarik Awards, which are given annually to the best linebacker and defensive players in college football, respectively. Murray has registered team highs of 62 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss, including 2.5 sacks and three pass breakups.
Baylor (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) is one of the biggest surprises in college football this season. Head coach Matt Rhule took over the Bears prior to the 2017 season and has taken Baylor from 1-11 in 2017, to 7-6 in 2018 and now 9-0 in 2019. The Bears were No. 13 in the College Football Playoff rankings.
On offense, Baylor is fairly balanced. The Bears rank in the top-40 nationally in passing and rushing offense, led by junior quarterback Charlie Brewer, who is among the conference’s leaders in passing efficiency, as well as rushing touchdowns. Brewer is among the greatest quarterbacks in Baylor history, but the quality of the Bears’ rushing attack has eased the pressure on the quarterback. Nine different players have scored a rushing touchdown for Baylor in 2019, and junior running back John Lovett (532 yards, 4 TD) and senior JaMycal Hasty (461 yards, 4 TD) lead a two-headed attack on the ground.
They say offense wins games, but defense wins championships. That will be the case for Baylor this season if the Bears want to win a Big 12 title. Defensively, Baylor has held nine straight conference opponents to less than 30 points for the first time in its Big 12 history. The Bears lead the Big 12 and rank 14th nationally with 29.0 sacks on the season. BU had only 25.0 sacks in 13 games in 2018. BU is also top in the Big 12 with 69.0 TFL in 2019, that total is 16th in FBS. With all of the pressure in the backfield, Baylor ranks in the top-10 nationally in passing defense and passing defense efficiency. One stat that jumps off the page for the Bears is the fact that they lead the country in blocked kicks this season with five. Special teams will play a big factor in this game and a blocked kick could swing momentum.
No team has been able to slow down the Oklahoma passing attack this season, but the Sooners haven’t played a team that can defend against the pass like Baylor. That’ll be the key matchup to watch in this game. Both of these teams have found themselves in overtime games lately, so don’t be surprised to see another OT game here.