Inside the Top 25

Updated: November 19, 2004, 5:49 PM ET
Scouts Inc.
Most of the Top 25 is in action this week. No. 3 Auburn, No. 4 California and No. 7 Michigan all face dangerous games against bitter rivals. In other top games, No. 9 Wisconsin travels to No. 17 Iowa and No. 8 Florida State hosts Florida.

Saturday, Nov. 20

No. 2 OKLAHOMA SOONERS  at
BAYLOR BEARS
Waco, Texas
12:10 p.m. ET
When Oklahoma has the ball: Baylor lost last year's meeting by 38 points, but it gave up only seven in the second half when it went after QB Jason White with an all-out blitz. The Bears sacked White five times and essentially created a blueprint for Kansas State and LSU to follow in the Sooners' consecutive season-ending losses. With that in mind, look for Oklahoma to focus on the ground attack. RB Adrian Peterson is likely to play, but his effectiveness and durability are big question marks. If he can handle 20-25 carries, the Sooners should absolutely roll against a Baylor run defense that ranks 98th in the nation. If Peterson can't go, or if he can shoulder only a limited load, the Sooners still will look to impose their will on the ground, but backup RB Kejuan Jones won't be nearly as effective.
When Baylor has the ball: The Bears' spread offense can help neutralize the massive size and speed advantages Oklahoma has in this matchup. If the quarterback gets into a rhythm and can spread the ball around like Shawn Bell did against A&M, the system can be effective. However, when the Bears get inconsistent QB play, like they did in their last two games, the scheme can lead to a lot of quick three-and-outs that put pressure on the defense. Bell (broken hand) will not play. His replacement, redshirt freshman Terrance Parks, is a big, strong-armed quarterback who played well under the circumstances last week. The Sooners' biggest weakness is their pass defense, so Parks will have a chance to play a starring role on Saturday. Baylor has, however, done a terrible job recently of protecting its quarterbacks. If Oklahoma DEs Shaun Cody and Jonathan Jackson (combined 14 sacks) can get to Parks, he will struggle to distribute the ball against seven-men in coverage.
Bottom line: The Bears obviously will be outclassed from a size and athleticism standpoint. They will have a terrible time matching up in the trenches on both sides of the ball, and their inability to stop the run will ultimately be fatal. However, while the Sooners will win this game decidedly, it won't be the blowout that some expect, especially if Peterson doesn't play or is limited. The Bears will blitz White and should get pressure on him like they did last season. Furthermore, if Parks can make some accurate throws early on against a suspect Oklahoma pass defense, the Baylor crowd may surprisingly have something to cheer about in the second half.
Prediction: Oklahoma 41, Baylor 13

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