Baylor Bears at Oklahoma Sooners, Saturday Nov. 12, Noon ET
Heading into the season it sure felt like Baylor could be heading towards a lost season with all of the turmoil, departures and distractions that the summer had involved. As it turned out, though, winning was a short-term remedy for the woes, and it wasn't until the team lost their first game that things quickly turned to feeling lost. Last week's home game against TCU was a debacle. There is no other way to put it. The team didn't try. Star running back Shock Linwood allegedly shoved an assistant coach. The body language all around was horrible. What had been a very dangerous football team waved the white flag. There was all sorts of drama around the game as fans protested the departure of former head coach Art Briles. Emotions were very high, and it had nothing to do with football - or at least not the football being played right now. Interim coach Jim Grobe did a spectacular job early on this season, but when his entire coaching staff - all former Briles assistants - tweeted out a statement in support of Briles after the game, and Grobe knew nothing about it in advance, it became clear that his situation is very tenuous. This is a team in serious turmoil.
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It's a shame, too. This game should have been a very compelling battle for conference supremacy. Up until last week that seemed likely. Oklahoma has rebounded well from those two nonconference losses, and they are cruising to another Big 12 title. Baylor looked like the biggest threat on the schedule. Now the questions are less about how the teams match up on the field and more about whether Baylor can heal their emotional wounds enough in a week to compete - or at least agree to put them aside and focus on the field. You need to be less of a handicapper and more of a psychologist to effectively handicap this one now.
Baylor at Oklahoma Betting Storylines
Even if they weren't self-destructing before our eyes, Baylor would have their hands full here. Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield entered the season as a Heisman favorite, but the opening loss to Houston and a rough outing against Ohio State ended that campaign almost before it started. In his last four games in particular, though, Mayfield is showing why he was so highly regarded entering the year. He has played four fairly weak opponents, and he has just obliterated them. He has 19 touchdowns with just two interceptions. He has averaged more than 360 yards passing per game, and his completion percentages have ranged between 67 and 80. He is dialed in, and he has one of the best receivers in the country in Dede Westbrook at his disposal. And the Sooners have crazy depth at running back as well, so it's not a one-trick pony when they have the ball. Even if Baylor was at their very best, this is an offense that was going to be tough for them to handle right now. And the Bears are far from their best - they have given up 48.5 points per game over their last two and allowed Iowa State to score 42 early on as well. It is a safe bet that Oklahoma is going to be able to score early and often.
Baylor at Oklahoma Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Oklahoma favored by two touchdowns. That has moved just slightly, with the hook added - the line now sits at 14.5. Just over 60 percent of bets have come in on the Sooners, so the line movement matches the action. Unless we see major news developments - a key injury, or some form of further protest from Baylor players or coaches - the line isn't likely to erupt in either direction.
The Bears are 18-8 ATS in their last 26 games against teams with winning records but a dismal 9-20 ATS in their last 29 games following a double-digit loss at home. They are only 2-6 ATS in their last eight games overall and 3-8 ATS in their last 11 conference games. They are 0-4 ATS in their last four road games and 1-6 ATS in their last seven in November. The Sooners are 9-4 ATS in their last 13 in the conference. but just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games overall, and 1-5 ATS in their last six home games against teams with winning road records.
Baylor at Oklahoma Predictions and Picks
I don't see how you don't take Oklahoma here. Baylor was an overachieving team that wasn't nearly as good as their record made them seem because of their schedule back when they were in the midst of their winning streak. Now they are a mess of a squad with so many issues that it seems almost impossible to imagine them focusing on what it takes to win here. Even if they were at full strength I would have struggled to make a case that they could roll into Norman and leave with the W. Now, though, it's only barely a contest. Oklahoma is going to be aggressive early in this one, and I don't expect them to let up. Teams never seem to go unbeaten in Big 12 conference play, so they surely are motivated to do so, and a big win here would be a good first step. Oklahoma is a comfortable pick here.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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