OSU vs. Baylor: Matchups, Prediction
WACO, Texas - Baylor has made a surge toward Big 12 relevance the past few years, highlighted by last season's 10-3 record and Robert Griffin III's march to the Heisman trophy.
But if any program has been completely unfazed by the Bears' growth, it's Oklahoma State.
Not only has OSU beaten Baylor every time since a 2005 loss in Mike Gundy's first year, but also the games have hardly been competitive. OSU beat the Bears 66-24 in 2006, 45-14 in '07, 34-6 in '08, 34-7 in '09 and 55-28 in '10.
And last season, in by far Baylor's best campaign since the Big 12 was formed, OSU was put on upset alert by national pundits before facing the Bears. OSU responded with a resounding 59-24 beatdown of BU, a game the Pokes led 35-0 at halftime and 49-3 when the starters came out late in the third.
Safe to say OSU should have plenty of confidence riding into Waco for an 11 a.m. kick on Saturday. Motivation certainly shouldn't be an issue, either, as a Cowboy victory would place OSU firmly in the mix for berths in the Alamo or Cotton bowls.
Baylor has the nation's No.2 total offense at 575.45 yards per game. OSU ranks No. 5 in total offense at 547.9. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State ranks 72nd in total defense, while Baylor comes in second-to-last nationally at 119th.
This has all the makings of an offensive shootout.
Now that the obvious is out of the way, here are some of the key matchups that will determine which high-powered offense will experience enough success to earn the victory.
Quarterback Nick Florence has had a phenomenal season for the Bears with 3,825 yards and 30 touchdowns and has one of the nation's top receiving corps at his disposal, headlined by Terrance Williams who has 89 catches for 1,693 yards and 11 TDs. This will be a massive challenge for a struggling OSU secondary that was picked apart by OU last Saturday.
Adding to the offensive arsenal in recent weeks has been transfer running back Lache Seastrunk. Seastrunk has burst onto the scene with rushing totals of 103, 91, 185 and 136 in the past four games, in which BU has gone 3-1. The 185 total came in an upset over No. 1 Kansas State. If OSU is to stop the BU offense it will start in the trenches. The Cowboy run defense has been one of the nation's best in recent weeks and will need to be again in Waco in an effort to make the Bears one dimensional.
Another big key will be the turnover battle. With both teams possessing elite offenses, it is in the Cowboys best interest to limit miscues and take advantage of any mistakes Baylor makes. OSU won the turnover battle 5-1 in last season's romp at Boone Pickens Stadium.
As for the Cowboys' offense, Clint Chelf will be making his second-career road start after passing for 253 yards and a touchdown with 63 rushing yards and 36 receiving yards against OU. Chelf has been efficient and has limited his turnovers better than OSU's other two quarterbacks. If Chelf can again limit miscues, OSU's receiving corps should be able to chip away fairly easily against BU's porous defense. This also presents a good opportunity for Joseph Randle to control the game on the ground. Randle has his seventh 100-yard game of the season with 113 yards in OSU's Bedlam loss.
This meeting sure looks like it will be close on paper if you chose to throw the series history out the equation. The Pokes' much-maligned secondary will be tested mightily on the road and the recent emergence of Seastrunk will be an additional challenge. Baylor's defense shouldn't provide much of a test for the Cowboys' offense but if the Pokes turn it over and have trouble defending the Bears, it could get interesting. But here's thinking history will repeat itself:
Prediction: Oklahoma State 55-41.