The Bears have raced out to a 3-0 start in conference play following last week’s controversial overtime win against Texas Tech. Speaking of the Red Raiders, they torched the Cowboys in their last outing, leaving OSU head coach Mike Gundy to pick up the pieces during their open date. At 1-2 in the Big 12, the Pokes are running out of time to get back in the league race.
An OSU win over the Bears would go a long way towards building some confidence for a reeling team. If Baylor can steal a victory in Stillwater, it will continue to solidify their standing as a top contender in the conference race.
Baylor at Oklahoma State
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 19 at 4 p.m. ET
Spread: Oklahoma State -4
When Baylor Has the Ball
The Baylor passing game is rolling behind underrated QB Charlie Brewer. He's averaging 8.7 yards per attempt distributing the ball to targets such as receivers Denzel Mims and Tyquan Thornton.
That spells trouble for OSU's beleaguered pass defense, which currently ranks ninth in the Big 12 in passer rating at 137.31. The last time out, the Pokes surrendered nearly 10 yards per pass to mercurial Texas Tech QB Jett Duffey. A repeat of that performance will likely go even worse for OSU versus the Bears.
When Oklahoma State Has the Ball
The Cowboys had a week off to tinker around the edges with their offensive scheme. Did Gundy and offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson do anything to help Spencer Sanders protect the ball?
Opponents have picked off OSU’s redshirt freshman quarterback eight times already this year. Three interceptions in the Cowboys' last game versus Texas Tech played a big part in putting OSU into an insurmountable hole with five turnovers for the game. All in all, it sounds as though Sanders could use some help seeing the field.
A bigger concern for the Baylor defense: OSU running back Chuba Hubbard. He has already passed 1,000 yards for the season, and now he gets a chance to take advantage of a unit that lost leading tackler Clay Johnston for the season during last week’s game. Linebackers Jordan Williams and Terrel Bernard need to pick up the slack in Johnston’s absence.
Can Spencer Sanders avoid another error-filled outing? That’s the operative question for OSU in this matchup. Baylor has built its spotless record in large part on opponents' mistakes. In three conference games, the Bears have secured a total of seven turnovers.
Look for Mike Gundy and Sean Gleeson to try to manufacture easier throws and reads for their QB this week. Chuba Hubbard should open up some chances for big gains off of play-action as well as he capitalizes on Baylor’s shorthanded linebacking corps.
Desperation can be a powerful motivator. Add in the fact that Oklahoma State was idle last week, and this is shaping up as a much-needed victory for the Cowboys.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 41, Baylor 34
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.