Commentary

OU defense collapses in loss to Baylor

Sooners give up school-record 616 total yards of offense in 45-38 defeat to Bears

Updated: November 20, 2011, 12:23 PM ET
By Jake Trotter | SoonerNation

WACO, Texas -- As the Baylor student body cascaded onto field, the Sooners' mascot "Boomer" held his hooves on top of his head.

Still in total disbelief.

Baylor 45, Oklahoma 38.

With one final Robert Griffin III downfield lob, OU's national title hopes flew right out the Floyd Casey Stadium window Saturday.

[+] EnlargeRonnell Lewis, Frank Alexander
Jerome Miron/US PresswireThe Sooners gave up 616 total yards of offense to Baylor.
And for the second time this season, an OU defense once deemed championship-caliber by its head coach inexplicably collapsed when needed the most.

"When your offense scores 38 points, you should win," Sooners linebacker Tom Wort said. "Every time."

Twice, 38 points wasn't enough: Oct. 22 against Texas Tech; then again against the Bears.

OU quarterback Landry Jones said after the game that the offense "needed to score more points." But adjusting to life without All-America receiver Ryan Broyles, the offense played well enough to win. The defense did not.

With his school-record 551 yards of total offense, Griffin might just be the new Heisman favorite. And with seven wins already, this might be Baylor's best team since joining the Big 12. But the Sooners' defensive performance was inexcusable. Especially with how well it's capable of playing. Especially with all that remained on the line.

Considering Oregon lost to USC, the Sooners could have feasted on Thanksgiving dinner knowing full well a national championship berth was theirs for the taking. After a second meltdown defensively, OU's best-case scenario is yet another trip to the Fiesta Bowl.

"We didn't do a good job covering," coach Bob Stoops said. "It was their route-running, and us being unable to cover them."

On the second play from scrimmage, Griffin found receiver Kendall Wright wide open behind the Sooners defense for an apparent 80-yard touchdown.

The play was called back because of holding. But the tone was set. And from then on, Griffin gashed the Sooners downfield. Over and over.

"Robert Griffin is great player, and they have an explosive group of players around him, but we did a poor job playing with discipline," defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. "They did a nice job with play-action, he did a nice job extending plays. … and we didn't have an answer."

The Bears got rolling in the second quarter, when Griffin faked a handoff, then connected with Wright on a slant pattern. Wright broke past OU safety Javon Harris, then raced 55 yards. Two plays later, the Bears were in the end zone.

More big plays were on the way. On the first play of Baylor's next possession, OU's safeties bit on play-action, and Griffin lofted a pass over Harris' head to Tevin Reese for a 69-yard score.

[+] EnlargeTravis Lewis
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezTravis Lewis and the Oklahoma defense struggled to contain Robert Griffin III and Baylor's receivers.
"We have too many mental busts on the defensive side of the ball," Wort said. "That's not how it's supposed to work."

The Bears scored two more touchdowns in less than minute. And both changed the game.

After opening the third quarter with two quick touchdowns to take a 24-17 lead, the Sooners owned all momentum and seemed to be on the verge of putting the Bears away.

Instead, a Griffin pass ricocheted off Reese's shoulder pads and into the arms of Wright running full stride for an 87-yard touchdown, giving the Bears back the momentum for good.

"They got some lucky bounces, but we could have played better," defensive end Frank Alexander said. "They made big plays."

None bigger than on the final drive, when Griffin scrambled 22 yards, then eight yards before finding Terrance Williams in the back corner of the end zone.

"It's definitely frustrating," Wort said. "We didn't play the way we're capable of playing. And it's been that way a lot of the season."

A season that started out with so much promise. A defense, too.

Jake Trotter covers University of Oklahoma football for SoonerNation. He can be reached at trotterjake@gmail.com. and look for answers every Friday.

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