NORMAN, Okla. (AP) – In case you haven’t heard, Bryce Petty is “ready for OU.”
After a blowout win over Kansas last weekend, Baylor’s quarterback deflected question after question in the same manner, reiterating succinctly that he was ready to play Oklahoma. His 10th-ranked Bears meet the 16th-ranked Sooners on Saturday with a lot to prove.READ MORE: Synagogue Hostage-Taker Malik Faisal Akram Had Stayed In North Texas Area Shelters
“It’s a big opportunity for us and a big opportunity for them, so there’s a lot of hype around it,” Petty said this week. “So I didn’t mean anything by it. I didn’t mean to come off as rude or obnoxious or mocking you guys’ profession at all. Like I said, I’m excited.”
Baylor coach Art Briles said he had no problem with Petty’s approach.
“He’s focused and ready, and he’s in a no-nonsense attitude, which I appreciate whole-heartedly, and that’s the way our whole football team needs to be,” Briles said. “We’ll play around in January. Right now it’s business.”
Petty’s postgame media session underscores the odd dynamic between programs that appear headed for a rivalry, despite the dramatically different histories involved.
Baylor is the defending Big 12 champion, in part because the Bears rolled past Oklahoma 41-12 last season. Baylor has won two of the past three games between the teams. Between the two programs, Baylor has the most recent Heisman winner, Robert Griffin III.
Yet, Baylor is on the attack, fighting for respect because of perception. Oklahoma has won seven national titles, five Heismans and eight Big 12 titles. Baylor is the new kid on the block, a program that went nearly two decades between bowl appearances before Briles led the Bears to the Texas Bowl in 2010.
The Sooners’ 11-0 record at home against Baylor and 21-2 overall mark in the series illustrates the dramatic historical difference between the programs — and why Baylor considers it so important to measure up.
“We put a lot of stock into it, because they are a storied program without a question,” Briles said. “If you’re a casual football fan that keeps up with college football, the name Bud Wilkinson may mean something to you. Barry Switzer, Bob Stoops may mean something to you. They’ve done a tremendous job for decades as a program up there.”
It’s not just about the Sooners, though — the Bears also want to stay in the mix for the playoff. They are No. 12 in the College Football Playoff rankings and still have No. 7 Kansas State on the schedule, so they have two great opportunities to move up.READ MORE: Security Expert Shares 'Run, Hide, Fight' Guidance In Wake Of Colleyville Synagogue Hostage Situation
“It’s important for us,” Petty said. “Not to be clichΘ, but it really is about us. It’s all about Baylor. We can’t get in that spot unless we take care of what we do. It doesn’t really matter who helps us out or who doesn’t help us out. We’ve got to take care of what we can take care of, and the rest will take care of itself.”
The Bears have won 36 games the past four seasons under Briles, matching the school’s victory total from the nine years before that. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops compared Briles’ success at Baylor to what Bill Snyder did while turning around the Kansas State program.
“I’ve always respected what they’ve done,” Stoops said. “And of course, the more you win, obviously, the perception from the other people comes around. But I’ve always felt they’ve done a great job, and in particular what Art’s done there.”
Oklahoma is still smarting from last year’s loss. The Sooners aren’t used to getting whipped, and certainly not by Baylor. In a strange twist, the Sooners are taking an underdog’s approach.
“Everybody’s counting us out right now, so really, we get to go into the game with everything to gain and nothing to lose,” Oklahoma cornerback Julian Wilson said. “So we just go out there and do our jobs. That’s it. That’s all it’s going to come down to.”
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