By The Sports Xchange
NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma’s offense led the way through much of a six-game winning streak to begin Big 12 play.
On Saturday against Baylor, it was the defense’s turn to come through with some big plays for the No. 11 Sooners.
Oklahoma forced three turnovers, its most of the season, and had several more interception chances in a 45-24 win over the Bears in front of 86,249 at Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
“Sometimes you get them in bunches,” Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. “Fortunately we were able to get quite a few turnovers.”
Linebacker Jordan Evans had two critical interceptions, one on the goal line early that ended a Baylor scoring chance and another that he returned to the Baylor 1-yard-line to set up a touchdown one play later in the third quarter that put the Sooners firmly in control.
“It’s championship November; defense wins championships,” Evans said. “Our offense has been carrying us all year, so I felt like if we can do our part, we should be able to steamroll through these last games.”
The Sooners’ offense did plenty as well, most notably the running back tandem of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine.
Neither played a week earlier in a win over Iowa State — Mixon due to a one-game suspension and Perine because of to a hamstring pull that kept him sidelined for three games.
Mixon and Perine combined for 290 all-purpose yards, with Mixon rushing for 124 yards and a touchdown and pulling down five catches for 63 yards.
Perine rushed for 100 yards.
While things kept rolling for Oklahoma (8-2, 7-0 in the Big 12), they got more difficult for Baylor.
After winning their first six games, the Bears (6-3, 3-3) have dropped three consecutive games.
It got even worse for Baylor when quarterback Seth Russell sustained a dislocated ankle in the third quarter.
At the end of a 9-yard run, Russell landed awkwardly as he was taken down by Oklahoma linebackers Evans and Caleb Kelly.
“Heartbreaking,” acting head coach Jim Grobe of Baylor said “He’s worked so hard to come back from the neck injury and it’s not about losing the talent and production at quarterback, it’s more just like having one of your own children hurt.
“It breaks your heart to see a really, really good guy get hurt like that.”
Grobe said he expected Russell’s injury to be season-ending.
Russell had passed for 148 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions, and rushed for 70 yards at the time of the injury with 5:48 remaining in the third.
Russell was fitted with an air cast and held his right arm in the air and clapped as he was given an ovation by the crowd as he was driven to the locker room.
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield got to know Russell over the summer at the Payton Manning Passing Academy.
“You hate to see anything like that,” said Mayfield, who offered some encouraging words to Russell before he was carted off.
Russell was replaced by freshman Zach Smith, who passed for 144 yards and a touchdown to close the game.
“It’s his opportunity to step up and he should be excited about that,” Grobe said. “Because of when it was that Seth got hurt, he got the opportunity to get enough snaps so that he shouldn’t be too nervous next week when he takes the field.”
KD Cannon of Baylor had seven catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns.
Oklahoma’s top receiver, Dede Westbrook, didn’t put up the numbers that he had during the last six games, as he was held to fewer than 100 yards for the first time in conference play.
However, Westbrook still was one of the offensive stars, with four catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns.
Both of Westbrook’s touchdowns were of the highlight-reel variety.
In the first quarter, Westbrook caught Mayfield’s pass just outside the 10 and stumbled toward the goal line as Baylor’s Chance Waz ran past him.
Westbrook braced himself and spun toward the field and stayed inbounds as he ran into the end zone.
On the second, Mayfield slipped between two Baylor linemen in the backfield and then let the ball fly from the 45 as he jumped to avoid another Bears defender.
With his back to the goal line, Westbrook leaped and came down with the ball over Baylor safety Henry Black and rolled backward over the goal line to put the Sooners up 28-10.