A long week and a couple days after Baylor’s Thursday night road game in West Virginia, Baylor football will return to Waco on November 3rd to take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Oklahoma State plays Baylor right in between Texas and Oklahoma, definitely creating a potential trap game.
Offensively, Oklahoma State has a ton of weapons but some important question marks. Prolific running back, Justice Hill, returns. He will almost certainly be the “go to” guy of the 2018 Cowboys offense. However, there is a lot of turnover at WR and QB. Outstanding wide receiver, James Washington, is gone and so is their great quarterback Mason Rudolph. While those losses will obviously hurt, the plus side for the Cowboys is that they have a lot of talent to fill those spots. Quarterback looks like it might be a five-headed race entering fall camp between Taylor Cornelius, Dru Brown, John Kolar, Keondre Wudtee, and Spencer Sanders. All are very talented, but it remains to see who will win the job. While there could be some early season splitting of snaps, I expect they will have narrowed down their QB choice by the time the Cowboys play Baylor.
Defensively, expect a new look, aggressive attack from the Cowboys. Coach Mike Gundy has been displeased with the defensive performances of the past years, and thus made a defensive coordinator change during the off-season, bringing in Jim Knowles from Duke. That isn’t great news for Baylor, since he already saw Matt Rhule’s Baylor offense last year when the Bears played Duke (granted, the attack should look much different and better this season). Unlike offense where there is a lot of talent but new faces, the defense has a lot of returners, especially in the front seven, but whether they’re athletic enough to fit with Knowles’s more aggressive approach is yet to be seen. The secondary might also be a weak point, relying heavily on young players.
Coming off of a disappointing 10-3 season (which I don’t think should ever be that disappointing), Oklahoma State is projected to go 8-4. Finishing at 8-4 or below could start moving Gundy to the hot seat once again, given how little credit he seems to get from the Oklahoma State administration for the incredible job he does. However, I think the Cowboys will overachieve, especially if they can get the QB spot locked down. FPI gives Baylor a decent shot at beating the Cowboys, with a 42.2% win chance. Projecting this far into the season in the preseason is hard, but I definitely think the Bears have a great opportunity to defeat Oklahoma State, especially given their recent success against the Cowboys at home. This is a very winnable game for the Bears in 2018.