Baylor has been making headlines because of its eye-popping offensive numbers in 2013, but its the Bears defense that has been the key to an undefeated start and a No. 6 ranking in the BCS.Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, whose team plays in Waco on Thursday night, has noticed Baylors defensive improvements.Its probably the part of their team that hasnt been talked about nearly as much as it deserves, said Stoops, whose 10th-ranked Sooners lost two years ago in Waco thanks to a late touchdown pass from eventual Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. Its not surprising; they have like seven seniors on their defense. [Theyre] playing very disciplined and very aggressive how they play it.Thursdays nationally televised tilt will feature the top two defenses in the Big 12. Oklahoma (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) leads in total defense, allowing 314.2 yards per game, and Baylor is just behind at 316 yards per game. The Bears edge the Sooners in average scoring defense, 15.9 points to OUs 18.8 per game.Both teams are coming off bye weeks.As for slowing down the Bears offense? Stoops says Baylor (7-0, 4-0) isnt trying to trick opponents. The Bears are beating teams man for man with exceptionally fast receivers, talented running backs and a big offensive line.Theyre not trying to fool you a whole lot, he said. Theyre going to space you out. They have a very big and physical offensive line with two great backs. They do such a great job getting behind you, and they can hurt you that way. Its the speed and the spacing and the ability to run the ball all of it combined.Leaving no doubtIf there were any doubt Texas Tech receiver Jace Amaro was one of the best in the country, there shouldnt be anymore.In the Red Raiders loss to Oklahoma State, the senior set career highs with 15 receptions for 174 yards. Hes had four consecutive 100-yard receiving games, the most for a Tech receiver since Michael Crabtree had seven in 2007. Amaro is third nationally with 79 catches and fifth with 1,035 yards receiving.The toll of coachingIn the wake of Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak falling ill and being rushed to the hospital during an NFL game Sunday night, Stoops reflected on the stresses of the job and how he changed his habits after his fathers death on the sidelines in 1988 at age 54.I think coaches need to be very aware, Stoops said. If anybody knows the hazards of it, its myself, my family. Its the reason why I, twice a year, am very aware to be checked very thoroughly with doctors. Not that that can prevent it, but you want to use the science, medicine and doctors as much as you can because theyre available to us.Theres no getting around it. It is part of our job the stress of it, the way we push ourselves, whether it be the lack of sleep, lack of eating, the daily grind of trying to find ways to improve and push your team.Petty up for OBrienBaylor quarterback Bryce Petty is one of 16 semifinalists for the Davey OBrien Award, which honors the nations top quarterback. Petty is the only Big 12 player among the finalists.The Midlothian graduate leads the nation in passing efficiency (219.0) and yards per completion (20.1). He leads the Big 12 with 350.4 passing yards per game, 18 passing touchdowns, a 69.3 completion percentage and 360.9 total yards per game.Key stats 3 Times Oklahoma has been a double-digit underdog under Bob Stoops, including Thursday at Baylor. The others were Florida State in 2000 and Texas in 2005. 67 Yards in a scoring run by Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf in the Cowboys win at Texas Tech. Its the longest running play by an OSU quarterback since Brent Blackmans 72-yard run in 1972.QuotableWhen youre in the game, its not like youre counting snaps. You know how fast the games going, but you really dont realize how many snaps youre playing. Playing teams with spread offenses, theyve got that tempo, so everythings moving super fast. Youve just got to be ready. Oklahoma State safety Lyndell Johnson on defending spread offenses
Big 12 Players of the Week
QB Clint Chelf, Oklahoma State: The senior completed 18 of 34 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns and rushed six times for 88 yards, including a 67-yard rushing score in the Cowboys’ 52-34 win at Texas Tech.
DE Ryan Mueller, Kansas State: The junior had seven tackles, including two for a loss and a sack in the Wildcats’ 41-7 win over Iowa State. He leads the Big 12 with seven sacks.
K Josh Lambert, West Virginia: He hit all three field goal attempts of 24, 42 and 34 yards, including the game-winner in overtime to beat TCU 30-27. The freshman from Garland High has made his last nine field goal attempts.