There was pre-game focus on the way Oklahoma might start against Baylor on Saturday, with some questioning the No. 3 Sooners' potential lack of motivation against a winless team.
Starting wasn’t the problem, though. It was sustaining.
OU went up 14-0 after six plays but its last two drives before halftime went for just 11 yards total, giving Baylor a window of opportunity.
The Sooners pulled out a 49-41 win, but not without tension. Baylor scored 21 unanswered points to grab a third quarter lead.
It was OU coach Lincoln Riley’s first dose of authentic, in-game adversity in his new role.
“We hit a lot of big plays in the first quarter. I didn't do a very good job in the second quarter,” Riley said. “I got a little impatient. Didn't put our guys in a great position. They made some adjustments defensively, and it took me too long to catch up. So I've got to do better.”
OU quarterback Baker Mayfield didn’t fight the notion that maybe the Sooners relaxed after such an explosive start.
“We say it all the time around here: ‘All gas, no brakes.’ So you can never let your foot off the pedal, especially playing a team like that, because they can score in a second. Doesn't matter their record or anything. It's still a high-powered offense that Baylor's had for a while. So you can never take your foot off the gas,” Mayfield said.
• Depth issues: OU left guard Ben Powers hasn’t been 100 percent while playing for the injured Cody Ford. The offensive line was hit with the loss of Alex Dalton early in the season and can’t afford more setbacks.
Still, the thinning depth there pales in comparison to what’s happening on OU’s defense.
Senior cornerback Jordan Thomas was helped off the field in Saturday’s game and was later seen wearing a protective boot. OU has already lost cornerback Jordan Parker for the season due to injury, making true freshman Tre Norwood the next man up if Thomas should miss time.
Thomas’ status moving forward wasn’t immediately known.
OU is also without its top two free safeties Will Johnson and Robert Barnes, who missed their second straight games.
Matt Romar missed the game due to an undisclosed injury.
“Maybe the bye comes at a good time for us,” Stoops said. “We’re not a deep team.”
• Flowers back: After not receiving a touch against Tulane, fullback Dimitri Flowers had a triumphant return.
The senior from San Antonio caught a 52-yard touchdown pass on a seam route in the first quarter and took a direct snap for a 3-yard touchdown run 10 minutes before halftime.
It was Flowers’ first multi-touchdown game, and his role in the wildcat formation was a new wrinkle in the offense.
• Standing still: OU’s frighful experience at Baylor didn’t cost it a thing in the Associated Press poll.
The Sooners (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) remain No. 3 in the latest ranking.
Elsewhere in the Big 12, TCU vaulted to No. 9 after its convincing 44-31 win at then-No. 6 Oklahoma State. OSU dropped to 15th.
OU plays at OSU (Nov. 4) and hosts TCU (Nov. 11) in back-to-back weeks.
West Virginia entered the poll at No. 23 after a 56-34 win at Kansas.