WACO — Don’t try to tell Baylor it has no shot at knocking off top-ranked Oklahoma this weekend.
The Sooners are 17-0 all-time against Baylor, but the Bears claim that doesn’t have anything to do with Saturday’s game in Waco.
The Bears, in fact, have made so many positive strides under new coach Art Briles that offensive tackle Jason Smith and the team are feeling pretty confident.
“This win that we’re going to get over OU will get us on the right track,” Smith said.
Asked if that means he’s guaranteeing a Baylor win over OU, Smith said: “I don’t make guarantees. I just play the game of football.
“We’ve trained for this moment since the new coaches got here. We have our goals and they’re in the way.”
An upset victory over OU will snap a 12-game conference losing streak for Baylor (2-2).
“We look forward to defending our home turf,” center J.D. Walton said. “We just have to put 60 minutes on the board and defend it.”
Smith likes the challenge the Sooners present and vows the Bears won’t do anything different just because they’re facing the country’s top-ranked team.
“You don’t change what you’re doing for anybody,” Smith said. “You don’t change the shirt you wear for a different kind of girl. You wear what you wear and you be you.
“On paper, we’re at the bottom and they’re at the top. So who has the pressure?”
Running game a plus
Baylor’s running game has improved so much that in four games this season the Bears are just 38 yards shy of matching their production from last season.
“We like running the ball and we’re actually getting a chance to this year, so we’re excited about that,” J.D. Walton said. “Hopefully this game [against OU], we can get past that 38 yards by a huge number.”
The Bears have 896 yards rushing yards this season.
Walton said: “Any time our running backs get in the end zone or reach that 100-yard [rushing] mark, that’s weight off our shoulders and applause to us.”
For Baylor, running the ball and keeping the clock moving is of high importance against the quick-striking Sooners. Particularly against an OU squad that averages 49.8 points per game.
“The main thing that you have to do from an offensive standpoint is you have to be productive when you have the football,” Art Briles said. “Especially when you’re really involved in games that are high-caliber with good competition on the other side.”
OU challenge not different for Baylor
Coach Art Briles said the challenge of facing the No. 1 team in the nation is no different than facing any other team.
“What we’re looking at is we’re going to go out and play hard for 60 minutes, we’re going to play well for 60 minutes and we’re going to try to win the football game for 60 minutes,” Briles said. “Their ranking and all that stuff, that’s going to be hyped up without us getting involved with that.
“What we’re going to try to do is be a better football team than we were against Connecticut and go out there and get on our home floor and represent Baylor University. We’ve got our guys, we’ve got our people, we’ve got our university and we’ve got to protect it, so that’s the way we’re approaching the football game.”
Baylor has an eye on Bradford
OU quarterback Sam Bradford is one of the nation’s best signal-callers and has the ability to control a game by himself.
Bradford has completed 83-of-115 passes for 1,293 yards, 16 touchdowns and only two interceptions, so the Bears know they’ll have to be on top of their game if they hope to contain the 6-5, 213-pound sophomore.
“He’s calm, he’s poised, he protects the ball, he plays very intelligently, and has been very productive when he’s been on the field,” Briles said. “He does a great job for what they’re asking him to do for their offense.”
The battle in the trenches
With so many talented Baylor and OU players on the offensive and defensive lines, Art Briles believes Saturday’s game will be won in the trenches.
“We’ve got guys that’ll get after it, and they do, too,” Briles said. “I think it’s a great, great match and an interesting part of the football game, because we really believe in our people up front — on both sides of the ball — and I’m sure they feel the same way about theirs.
“So it’s going to be an interesting matchup throughout the day.”
Rebounding from UConn
Because they had a bye last weekend, the Bears haven’t played since a heartbreaking 31-28 loss at UConn on Sept. 19. The bye week made for an interesting weekend for Art Briles and his staff.
“We got to recruit a little bit last Friday,” Briles said. “And that was fun getting out in the real world for just two or three hours.”
Briles wanted to achieve three things during the bye week that he believe will benefit his squad during conference play.
“We wanted to get healthy, get academic and get strong,” he said. “And then to get right schematically on both sides of the ball — and special teams, fine-tune some things — and provide some directions with our schemes.”