MATCHUP: #9 Baylor Bears (10-2, 7-2) vs. #5 Oklahoma State Cowboys (11-1, 8-1)
LOCATION: Arlington, TX
ODB GAME HUB: Big 12 Championship: Baylor Bears vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys 2021
OPPONENT’S SB NATION BLOG: Cowboys Ride for Free (CRFF)
KNOW YOUR ENEMY: BAYLOR BEARS (BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP EDITION): From CRFF.
PODCASTS: OurDailyPodcast | Between Two Bears | SourGrapesPod | Please Bear With Me | Bear Den | SicEm365’s Bear Cast | Travis and Jeff
COLLEGEFOOTBALLDATA.COM TEAM PAGES: Baylor | OSU
WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE: OSU, BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP EDITION
GAME NOTES (INCLUDING DEPTH CHART): Here.
BAYLORBEARS.COM PREVIEW: Here.
THREE STATS THAT WILL DECIDE THE GAME: Big 12 Championship.
SPREAD: OSU -5.5, O/U 46.5
TV COVERAGE: FOX, 11 AM Saturday
UNIFORM: POLAR BEAR—H/T TO MAX GARNER
WEATHER: Doesn’t matter—the game is indoors. But it will be gorgeous in DFW tomorrow.
Once again I was completely jammed this week with #reallifestuff, so I’m combining First Look elements into this post as well as some other stuff.
How Did We Get Here?
|1||4-Sep-21||7:00 PM||Sat||Baylor||Texas State||Sun Belt||29||20||1||0||W 1|
|2||11-Sep-21||7:00 PM||Sat||Baylor||Texas Southern||Non-Major||66||7||2||0||W 2|
|3||18-Sep-21||3:30 PM||Sat||Baylor||Kansas||Big 12||45||7||3||0||W 3|
|4||25-Sep-21||3:30 PM||Sat||Baylor||(14) Iowa State||Big 12||31||29||4||0||W 4|
|5||2-Oct-21||7:00 PM||Sat||(21) Baylor||(19) Oklahoma State||Big 12||14||24||4||1||L 1|
|6||9-Oct-21||12:00 PM||Sat||Baylor||West Virginia||Big 12||45||20||5||1||W 1|
|7||16-Oct-21||3:30 PM||Sat||Baylor||(19) BYU||Ind||38||24||6||1||W 2|
|8||30-Oct-21||12:00 PM||Sat||(16) Baylor||Texas||Big 12||31||24||7||1||W 3|
|9||6-Nov-21||3:30 PM||Sat||(14) Baylor||Texas Christian||Big 12||28||30||7||2||L 1|
|10||13-Nov-21||12:00 PM||Sat||(18) Baylor||(4) Oklahoma||Big 12||27||14||8||2||W 1|
|11||20-Nov-21||5:30 PM||Sat||(11) Baylor||Kansas State||Big 12||20||10||9||2||W 2|
|12||27-Nov-21||12:00 PM||Sat||(9) Baylor||Texas Tech||Big 12||27||24||10||2||W 3|
Yes, the dream is real. For the second time in the last three seasons, and under a completely new regime rebuilding off a 2-7 COVID campaign last season, the Baylor Bears are back in the Big 12 Championship Game with a chance (albeit an outside chance) at the College Football Playoff. And to make things even better, we won’t play against either of the schools that tried to kill the rest of the conference, both of whom are enjoying a little rest and relaxation this weekend. Instead, we get:
Oklahoma State 2021
|1||4-Sep-21||7:00 PM||Sat||Oklahoma State||Missouri State||Non-Major||23||16||1||0||W 1|
|2||11-Sep-21||12:00 PM||Sat||Oklahoma State||Tulsa||American||28||23||2||0||W 2|
|3||18-Sep-21||9:00 PM||Sat||Oklahoma State||Boise State||MWC||21||20||3||0||W 3|
|4||25-Sep-21||7:00 PM||Sat||Oklahoma State||(25) Kansas State||Big 12||31||20||4||0||W 4|
|5||2-Oct-21||7:00 PM||Sat||(19) Oklahoma State||(21) Baylor||Big 12||24||14||5||0||W 5|
|6||16-Oct-21||12:00 PM||Sat||(12) Oklahoma State||(25) Texas||Big 12||32||24||6||0||W 6|
|7||23-Oct-21||3:30 PM||Sat||(8) Oklahoma State||Iowa State||Big 12||21||24||6||1||L 1|
|8||30-Oct-21||7:00 PM||Sat||(15) Oklahoma State||Kansas||Big 12||55||3||7||1||W 1|
|9||6-Nov-21||3:30 PM||Sat||(11) Oklahoma State||West Virginia||Big 12||24||3||8||1||W 2|
|10||13-Nov-21||8:00 PM||Sat||(10) Oklahoma State||Texas Christian||Big 12||63||17||9||1||W 3|
|11||20-Nov-21||8:00 PM||Sat||(9) Oklahoma State||Texas Tech||Big 12||23||0||10||1||W 4|
|12||27-Nov-21||7:30 PM||Sat||(7) Oklahoma State||(10) Oklahoma||Big 12||37||33||11||1||W 5|
The 1-loss Oklahoma State Cowboys fresh off a huge Bedlam win over Oklahoma and still basking in the glow of not only beating their biggest rival but probably contributing directly to his decision to flee west. He’s not the first person that has ever left Oklahoma headed west looking for greener pastures, and he won’t be the last.
Obviously, we have played Oklahoma State already this season, since we’re in the Big 12 and don’t duck each other by only playing 8 conference games a year. And they beat us in that game in Stillwater way back in early October, if you recall. Let’s talk about that.
What Happened The First Time?
Oklahoma State won 24-14 in Stillwater despite giving up three turnovers on Spencer Sanders interceptions and not generating any of their own. Simply put, our offense lost this game in the first half, when our possessions went punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, and punt. Really, it was the first quarter itself that did it, when Baylor put up a -.371 in predicted points added, and OSU put up .407. The rest of the game was more or less even, but we went into halftime down 14-0, and that was just too big a hill to climb, although we did have the ball down 17-14 in the fourth quarter with about 6 minutes to go. If you pull up the advanced box score for this game on CollegeFootballData.com, it becomes clear what happened—Baylor only passed Oklahoma State’s 40 yard line three times in the game and scored just 7 points on those drives. As Cody pointed out earlier in his stats post, we were just 3/15 on third down.
I blame our offense for this, but it’s important to remember that Oklahoma State’s defense is really, really good at #3 in the country in combined F+, as you’ll see below. That probably had something to do with our offensive struggles, although that was hardly limited to this game when we left the friendly confines of McLane Stadium. Against us the first go-round, they were particularly good at stopping the run in short yardage, with a stuff rate over 30% in our game. We were particularly bad on passing downs throughout this game, with a Success Rate of just 14% against OSU’s 36%. That means we were only successful on one play in seven against OSU’s defense. That’s incredible on their part and the second-worst (or best, from their perspective) rate of the season against their defense: only Texas Tech was lower at 11% in the game in which they got shut out completely.
Advanced Stats Overview
Baylor vs. OSU II (F+)
Did you notice in the spread part above that the O/U for this game is 46.5? That’s right, 46.5 points is the combined bar FOR THE BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME! Didn’t think that would happen again any time soon, did you? You had good reason.
This is largely because of OSU’s defense, which I’ve already noted is good, but also our own, which is a not-too-shabby 17th in F+. It just isn’t 3rd like OSU’s behind just Georgia and Wisconsin.
Baylor vs. OSU II (FEI)
OSU is really good, ok? I don’t know how else to say it.
- You’re going to find out my prediction for this game in a little bit below, but putting all of that aside—I am really excited for this game tomorrow. If you had told Baylor fans coming into this season we would be 10-2 and playing Oklahoma State for the Big 12 Championship with a realistic chance to go to the Sugar Bowl regardless of how tomorrow turns out, they would have taken it. Even if if meant losing to TCU. I can’t wait to get to the game, even if it is at 11, and see as many of you as possible when I do. My lovely 8+ month pregnant bride will be with me, and please be sure to tell her how amazing she looks.
- I don’t think Gerry Bohanon is going to play again for the same reason as last week. It’s only been two weeks since the KSU game where he hurt his hamstring, and as far as that kind of injury goes, that’s not a ton of time. I think you’ll see Blake Shapen take the field for Baylor again, and I hope—and pray—they give him the chance to run the ball rather than just hand it off hoping we can lean on OSU like we tried to do against Tech. That being said, I also hope he takes better care of himself than last week, when I thought he had died watching on my phone in somewhat real time.
- Speaking of Shapen, it will be critical for Baylor’s success tomorrow that he protect the ball. Thankfully, if OSU’s defense has a weakness, that’s it. They are 90th in the country in defensive turnover rate. Asking him to go completely without turnovers against a defense. like OSU’s may be too much, particularly since he appears to have a little gunslinger in him, but I expect solid drives to be a premium tomorrow, so we can’t give them away.
- Oklahoma State’s defensive dominance starts on the line, where they are elite across the board except for passing down line yards. Strength-on-strength in this game will be OSU’s defense trying to generate sacks and our OL trying to prevent them. Given how much our offense relies on running the ball, sacks may as well be automatic drive-killers.
- I think Baylor has to try to take away Jaylen Warren and/or limit him as much as possible and make Spencer Sanders beat us. That may sound weird when you’re talking about the First Team All-Big 12 QB, but it’s probably the way to go against this OSU offense. Something like what we did against Caleb Williams, forcing him to go through progressions, make reads, and actually run the offense, is probably the way to go.
Players To Know:
- #3 Spencer Sanders—The first-team All-Big 12 QB this season and starter for OSU since the Missouri State game (first of the year). Sanders finished the regular season 178/294 for 2,211 yards and 16 TDs passing and added 510 yards on 116 carries and 6 TDs rushing.
- #7 Jaylen Warren—The Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year and OSU’s leading rusher with 237 carries for 1134 yards and 11 TDs.
- #1 Tay Martin—A second-team All-Big 12 WR and the #3 in the conference in receiving yards with 51 receptions for 854 yards and 7 TDs.
- #80 Brennan Presley—OSU’s #2 WR with 38 receptions for 462 yards and 5 TDs.
- #20 Malcolm Rodriguez—OSU’s leading tackler with 106, including 14.5 for loss and 3 sacks. Also has 2 fumble recoveries and a defensive TD.
- #30 Collin Oliver—#2 on OSU’s defense in tackles for loss with 12.5. Listed in an OR arrangement at DE. I’m not going to give them all entries, but I will note that OSU has 5 different players with 10 or more TFL, including Rodriguez, Oliver, DE Brock Martin, LB Devin Harper, and DE Tyler Lacy.
- #24 Jarrick Bernard-Converse—First-team All-Big 12 at DB and OSU’s leader in passes defended with 9. Starting corner.
- #31 Kolby Harvell-Peel—Also first-team All-Big 12 at DB and OSU’s leader in interceptions with 3. Starting safety.
One of my big concerns going into this game is what is going to happen if/when we generate a successful drive against OSU’s defense, the field gets smaller inside the 20, and the zones and lanes get smaller. Finishing drives has been a problem for the Baylor offense at times this season, and if possessions with scoring opportunities are limited as I expect them to be, we have to take advantage. Kicking field goals is not going to win the game.
How you feel going into this one largely depends on what you think the Texas Tech game represented. If you believe it was a Texas Tech team playing over their heads (maybe with a little inside information) against a flu-depleted, distracted Baylor team, then you probably don’t expect that kind of performance to be replicated against the vastly superior Oklahoma State. With the Aranda talk dying down this week and something very real to play for tomorrow, you might even believe in a bounce-back game of sorts, particularly from the defense. Or, on the other hand, you might be concerned that the offense has struggled to establish the run, opposing defenses are selling out to stop it (those things are related), and Shapen may not be able—or trusted—to win the game on his own.
I’m somewhere in the middle. I think there’s something to last week’s performance against Tech being an aberration given that they were uniquely posed to be able to counter us, especially on offense. I also have big concerns about Shapen going against the OSU defense, which is good at just about everything. This OSU team is the best we have faced this season with an absolutely elite unit on one side of the ball. To win we are probably going to have to play our best football of the season—and best since OU, for sure—and come out of the gate stronger than we did in Stillwater.
The lineup changed a bit this week, as you might have expected, and we added some new faces to the ranks:
- Peter Pope (@pbpope): He said 24-21 somebody, but he didn’t know who.
- David Fankhauser (@dfank_bu): OSU 23, Baylor 16.
- Amy Pagitt (@amygrahampagitt): “Baylor 21, OSWho -2”
- Jeff Davis (@penland365): Baylor 23, OSU 20
- Matt Wilson (@mattisbear): Baylor 69, OSU 14 (fairly sure he was joking).
- Etta (@bayloretta): OSU 24, Baylor 21.
- Max Garner (@MAXgBU21): Baylor 21, OSU 17.
- Deonte Epps (@DEppsRightStepS): Baylor 20, OSU 17.
- Joe Goodman (@the_joe_goodman): Baylor 24, OSU 16.
- Evan Hebert (@evanhebert): Baylor 31, OSU 17.
- Cody Orr (@cody_orr): Baylor 20, OSU 17 in OT.
- SPECIAL GUEST KENDALL KAUT (@kendallkaut): Baylor 17, OSU 14.
I’ll be there yelling my head off in AT&T Stadium in the morning, but I just don’t think Baylor is going to have the offense it needs against OSU.
OSU 27, Baylor 17.
Predict the outcome of tomorrow’s Big 12 Championship Game between Baylor and Oklahoma State.
This poll is closed
Baylor, big (17+)
Baylor, comfortable (11-16)
Baylor, close (4-10)
Baylor, squeak (1-3)