NORMAN The last time I covered one of these Bob Stoops press conferences, I previewed the OU-Notre Dame game and almost exactly predicted the final score. And when I say that, I mean I was off by 38 points.
So for this week's OU-Baylor preview, I'll stick to the facts and sit on the bench for the prediction portion of the column.
The past three games have not been the best test of Oklahoma's defense. Notre Dame ranks 61st nationally in scoring offense, while Kansas and Iowa State are 98th and 92nd, respectively. Of course the Irish, and to a lesser extent the Cyclones, have a more-than-worthy defense, but none of those teams is capable of lighting up the Sooners the way Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma State did last season. So far in 2012, the OU defense hasn't been the major culprit in either of the team's losses.
But now the Sooners embark on what is surely the toughest three-game stretch that any defense in the country will face all season.
Normally, you wouldn't think Baylor would qualify for that list, but in fact Baylor has the No. 1 offense in the country in total yards (581.5 per game) and passing yards (392.1). After hosting the Bears this Saturday, Oklahoma faces West Virginia and Oklahoma State, which are both ranked in the top 9 in scoring offense.
"Baylor has a really explosive offense," Stoops said on Monday. "It's going to be a big challenge to our defense. It's tough to have to face the explosive offenses in this conference week in and week out."
Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops has done a great job working with essentially the same guys Brent Venables had last season. So far, this year's unit has been much better – 12th nationally in pass defense and 17th in total defense – but it's wise to wait until this three-week gauntlet is over before truly judging this defense.