🏈 Winning on a bye week
Lincoln Riley might just be good at this talent evaluating thing. Plus, OU's path to the Big 12 championship game just became a little easier.
✌🏽 Happy Monday, friends. Let’s ride.
🤔 Trivia: What is Oklahoma’s current winning streak against Baylor? [Answer in footnotes]1
📈 Riley’s QBs
Here’s nothing that will shock the common Oklahoma fan: Lincoln Riley has a damn good eye for quarterbacks.
This weekend felt like a major victory for Riley’s ability to evaluate talent, despite the Sooners being off for the first time all season.
Sure, you can find the Twitter egg with a string of numbers at the end of their username handle to tell you Riley ain’t nothing without transfers.
It’s a lazy assessment for a coach that, yes, has enjoyed a QB room built mostly around transfers. But I never understood how you can deny him credit for both Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray when he had two full years to mold them before they even took the field for their respective Heisman Trophy seasons.
Then, Riley brought in Alabama’s Jalen Hurts and quickly transformed him into a Heisman runner-up. Spencer Rattler didn’t pan out the way most anticipated, but he did help OU win a Big 12 title last season after a 1-2 start and you’re kidding yourself if you don’t believe he’ll be the most coveted quarterback in the transfer portal this offseason.
Perhaps Riley’s expertise as a quarterbacks coach will begin to resonate on a larger scale with what quarterbacks that have left the program are doing.
Austin Kendall, a 2016 signee, has started for both West Virginia and Louisiana Tech since he transferred out of the program following three years in Norman.
Tanner Mordecai, another three-year project for Riley and a 2018 signee, is lighting up the American Athletic Conference with 2,887 passing yards and 34 touchdowns at SMU this season.
And now, Chandler Morris, who spent one year under Riley in 2020, just led TCU to an improbable win over No. 12 Baylor, posting 461 passing yards, 70 rushing yards and three touchdowns.2 He will have a challenging opportunity to keep it going against Oklahoma State on Saturday.
All this to say, Riley has hit on his evaluations more often than not. I’ve also somehow yet to mention Caleb Williams, whose Heisman Trophy odds have skyrocketed since taking over for Rattler in early October.
Just a remarkable run for Riley, who also has the top-ranked quarterback not named Arch Manning in the 2023 class committed to his program.
Pretty, pretty good.
🏆 Big 12 title race
The road to Arlington, Texas, is becoming simpler for the Sooners.
Winning the next two weeks would lock up a Big 12 championship berth for Oklahoma after TCU beat Baylor on Saturday. The Sooners can clinch as early as this weekend, however, with a win over the Bears and an Iowa State loss to Texas Tech.3
Here’s a look at the Big 12 championship contenders and their odds to make it to AT&T Stadium entering Week 11:
Record: 9-0 (6-0 Big 12)
Remaining games: at Baylor (Nov. 13), vs. Iowa State (Nov. 20), at Oklahoma State (Nov. 27)
Beat Baylor this weekend: 63%
Win conference: 48%
Win out: 18%
Record: 8-1 (5-1 Big 12)
Remaining games: vs. TCU (Nov. 13), at Texas Tech (Nov. 20, vs. Oklahoma (Nov. 27)
Beat TCU this weekend: 78%
Win conference: 33%
Win out: 15%
Record: 7-2 (4-2 Big 12)
Remaining games: vs. Oklahoma (Nov. 13), at Kansas State (Nov. 20), vs. Texas Tech (Nov. 27)
Beat Oklahoma this weekend: 37%
Win conference: 7%
Win out: 10%
Record: 6-3 (4-2 Big 12)
Remaining games: at Texas Tech (Nov. 13), at Oklahoma (Nov. 20), vs. TCU (Nov. 26)
Beat Texas Tech this weekend: 72%
Win conference: 11%
Win out: 11%
📺 Early kick in Waco
So, Oklahoma won’t have to play a night game on the road this weekend. The Big 12 announced the following for OU-Baylor:
Radio: Sooner Sports Network (click here for local listings)
Time: 11 a.m. CT
A few notes:
This will be Oklahoma's first time playing an 11 a.m. game at Baylor since 2008. The Sooners won that game 49-17 behind the arm of eventual Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford.
Since 2000, Oklahoma is 9-2 on the road against Baylor.
Oklahoma's last road loss to Baylor came in 2013, which was a rare Thursday night game for the Sooners. OU has played just one Thursday night game since that loss.4
Oklahoma and Baylor's meeting on Saturday will mark OU's first time playing an 11 a.m. game during the month of November since 2016.
📰 Gaining respect?
Oklahoma stayed at No. 4 in the Associated Press rankings.
To be clear, the AP poll lost most of its meaning after the first College Football Playoff rankings were released last week. But there is something worth noting about this week’s rankings.
Oklahoma was ranked No. 2 on 14 ballots, which is the most votes at No. 2 it’s received since the preseason poll.
Perhaps the Sooners, who are coming off of a bye week, are gaining more respect for their close scores and perfect record. All of Alabama, Ohio State, Cincinnati, Michigan State and Oregon certainly showed signs of weaknesses that OU’s been scrutinized for all season.
While the opinions of AP voters don’t matter to OU’s playoff hopes, it could reflect a shift in thinking with this year’s CFP rankings.
⏰ On this day
Eighteen years ago today, Oklahoma beat Texas A&M 77-0. A few stat lines…
QB Jason White: 263 passing yards, 16-of-18 passing, five touchdowns, zero interceptions
RB Donta Hickson: 131 rushing yards, 24 carries, one touchdown
RB Kejuan Jones: 120 rushing yards, 24 carries, two touchdowns
QB Paul Thompson: 79 rushing yards, six carries, two touchdowns
WR Mark Clayton: 166 receiving yards, seven receptions, three touchdowns
If only it didn’t devalue a potential quality win for the Sooners this weekend.
Wouldn’t hold your breath, but still.
2016 at Iowa State