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Baylor vs. Oklahoma State: Preview/Prediction Thread

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Baylor faces off against Oklahoma State on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. CST, and it's time for a Blackout.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
vs.
6/6/7 BAYLOR (8-1, 5-1) vs. NR/NR/NR OKLAHOMA STATE(5-5, 3-4)
Nov. 22, 2014 | 6:30 p.m. CT
Waco, Texas | McLane Stadium (46,140)

TV: FOX
Listen | Gametracker Gametracker | Game Notes Notes | Tickets | Gameday Central

OPPONENT: Oklahoma State Cowboys
ODB GAME HUB: Baylor Bears vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys 2014
ADVANCED STATS PREVIEW: Baylor vs. Oklahoma State
OURDAILYPODCAST PREVIEW:
Gotta Stay Hydrated: A Sort of Preview of Oklahoma State
MEET THE PRESSBaylor vs. Oklahoma State
SB NATION BLOG: Cowboys Ride For Free, at right
SPREAD: Baylor -28.5 (Open: Baylor -24.5)
TV COVERAGE: FOX Network, 6:30 p.m. CST
WEATHER FORECAST: ALL THE RAIN. 97% chance of rain at game time. High of 59° F (Wunderground puts the temp at 63º at game time).
BAYLOR UNIFORMS: #EveryoneInBlack (or very very dark gray)

SB Nation OkSt Preview
BaylorBears.com Preview
Cowboys vs Bears coverage

Weather Update

I've been tracking weather for this game all week long, and the forecast doesn't look good. According to Conley Isom, the Baylor Weatherman, there will be rain during the game, tapering off in the second half. Fortunately for us, it looks like most of the severe storming will be before the game, supposedly with the greatest threat between noon and 5:00 p.m. So, while we're looking at quite a bit of rain during the game, at least we won't be looking at lots of lightning during that time. Or so we hope. Regardless, bring your BLACK rain gear.

#EveryoneInBlack

The details are simple, folks, and they're all up in the video up above. This is the blackout game of the year, and everybody attending should be in black. If you're not attending, you should be wearing black anyway. Or very, very dark gray.

Before last year's BlackOUt, I expressed skepticism about how a blackout would look. I'd been part of one at a Dallas Stars hockey game a few years back and it wasn't all that impressive. I shouldn't have been worried. The moment I walked into The Case, I was awestruck. Every Baylor fan that I could see was wearing black. Everyone got the message. The student section was full a good 90 minutes before the game started (unprecedented) and the stadium full well before kickoff. It was spellbinding. Even with the weather threat, I cannot wait to see how Baylor Nation responds for this game. McLane Stadium should be rocking.

Injury/Suspension News

We all know that Daxx Garman is listed as doubtful for this game with concussion-like symptoms. Whether they pull the redshirt off true freshman QB Mason Rudolph looks likely. If we get word of any confirmation either way, we'll let you know. Also questionable for this game is junior CB Ashton Lampkin with an ankle injury.

From the Baylor side of things, aside from those that are out for the season, this may be the healthiest we've seen the Bears all season long. The folks that were banged up in the Oklahoma game two weeks ago are healed, so that shouldn't be an issue.

Advanced Stats

Category

Baylor (8-1)

OkSt (5-5)

EDGE

Overall F/+ Rk 9 (28.60%)
76 (-5.90%)
BAYLOR
Overall FEI Rk 6 (..244)
87 (-.100)
BAYLOR
Overall S&P+ Rk 6 (247.7)
73 (195.6)
BAYLOR
Field Position Advantage 7 (.561) 64 (.497) BAYLOR

According to this week's look at the Advanced Stats, the Bears are a massive favorite over Oklahoma State. The Bears look dominant in every aspect of the game from a statistical perspective, with the exception of Special Teams. As I said in the post, Tyreek Hill is a special talent with the ability to explode on the kick return. For a more thorough breakdown of how the stats see the game, check out the post.

Mark's Thoughts on the Game

I ... honestly don't have many this late in the week.  As Peter has so ably shown, Baylor is a huge favorite tomorrow and probably for good reason.  OSU's offense has been abjectly terrible for most of the season, incapable of running or passing the ball with much, if any, success and almost totally reliant on big plays.  A lot of that can be blamed on an offensive line that FootballOutsiders' metrics rank 71st in the country, with huge problems protecting the QB (125th in adjusted sack rate), power running (90th), and generally doing their job (91st in "opportunity rate," the percentage of carries that get five yards when five are available).  OSU's biggest offensive problem is arguably that they just can't run the ball.  There, we'll see their biggest offensive weakness against our biggest defensive strength in elements that could demand they run the ball in order to have any success, particularly if true freshman Mason Rudolph gets the start in relief of Daxx Garman.

Speaking of the weather-- how the potential for significant rain immediately before or during the game could affect things is guesswork, at best.  As I've said before, I strongly believe that teams with more balance fair better in bad conditions, since they can always lean the other direction without losing too much of who they are.  On the other hand, if a team does just one thing really well, the weather can completely change the game.  This comes up most often with teams that have to throw and find out they can't due to rain, wind, or some combination.  Then they have to go against their tendencies, often to disastrous effects.

Of these two teams, Baylor is clearly the most balanced by both desire (in terms of plays called) and result.  We're a better running and passing team than Oklahoma State, meaning that if we can't do one or the other, we still have a strength to fall back on.  Furthermore, Baylor will throw the #28 OL in the country against the #67 DL while bringing the #6 DL against the aforementioned #71 OL for the Cowboys.  In conditions that will probably be wet and wild, I like those two matchups quite a bit.

One thing to keep an eye on that Peter already mentioned in the advanced stats post is something that often contributes greatly to teams trying to pull big upsets: special teams.  If you don't like it when Baylor pooch kicks, I don't think this game will make you very happy.  Briles and company have to know that their main goal on kickoffs will be to keep the ball away from Tyreek Hill.  They also know that if their defense does what it should, field position shouldn't matter all that much to keeping OSU from scoring a lot of points.  What does that mean?  Pooch kicks.  Lots and lots of pooch kicks.  I'm just warning you now.

A couple more things to think about:

  • Rudolph is supposedly significantly more athletic than Garman, and we've had some trouble with dual-threat QBs.  Since it's his first game, it seems reasonable to expect a relatively simple passing game plan, but good offensive coaches often use the run as a way to build confidence for young QBs, since it is so much more instinctive and requires fewer reads. 
  • Despite a lackluster DL, OSU is actually pretty good against the run because of an extremely good havoc rate from their front seven (7th in the country).  Based on the foregoing, I'm going to bet a lot of that is LBs.  That makes our OL getting to the second level and establishing their blocks extremely important, particularly early. 
  • On the flip side, OSU is 100th in DB havoc rate, and that's really, really bad for them.  Their best hope defensively is that it absolutely pours during the game, taking the air out of the ball completely and forcing us to run, run, run.  We're good enough at it that I'd still expect to win the game, but that's obviously their best-case scenario.
  • A slippery or outright wet field with high winds?  Field goals could be a bit of an adventure tomorrow, as could tackling in space.  I wonder if you won't see a lot of shorter throws like slants or screens that won't get caught in the wind and will make the defender cut on wet turf.

Overall, I think Baylor fans have plenty of reason to be confident going into tomorrow's game, but I will say that I see the weather being a big factor in the overall number of points scored.  The O/U per VegasInsider is 67.5, and I think I'm going to take the under if only barely, although I do have Baylor covering the slightly insane 30-point spread.

Final Score: Baylor 52, Oklahoma State 14