Have the Cowboys turned their season around?
The Pokes were riding a two-game losing streak into an open date after getting shellacked by the Kansas State Wildcats. Baylor had just taken the Texas Longhorns down to the final whistle in a 23-17 loss that showed the Bears could play with one of the top teams in the Big 12.
What a difference one game makes. When the two squads meet on Saturday, the Bears (4-4, 2-3 Big 12) will be coming off a blowout loss at West Virginia, while the Cowboys (5-3, 2-3) just knocked off Texas in a thriller.
Can Baylor get back on track, or will the Pokes sustain their momentum?
Oklahoma State at Baylor
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 3 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Oklahoma State -7.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Sandwich game for Oklahoma State
The Cowboys are coming to Waco fresh off a win over the then-No. 6 Longhorns and looking forward to the Bedlam game a week later against the seventh-ranked Oklahoma Sooners. That makes this a tough spot for them from an emotional standpoint. An early kickoff suggests a sluggish start could be in the making for Mike Gundy’s team.
2. Charlie Brewer’s status
Baylor’s second-year quarterback went down early in the Bears’ game at West Virginia and started the week in concussion protocol. Naturally, his status bears watching.
If the Bears end up going with backup Jalan McClendon, head coach Matt Rhule will have a chance to build a game plan that best suits his second-string QBs skill set, which differs from what Brewer brings to the table. Also worth noting, before Brewer was taken out of the game, he was nothing short of disastrous against the Mountaineers, completing just one of his eight pass attempts for 22 yards and throwing three interceptions. He also was sacked three times.
3. Baylor’s secondary versus OSU’s receivers
Cowboys wideout Tylan Wallace stole the show against Texas with an array of impressive receptions, ending the game with 10 catches for 222 yards and two touchdowns. He has plenty of skilled pass catchers around him to help keep the heat on BU’s lackluster secondary.
Baylor enters this game fifth in the Big 12 in passing defense at 240.3 yards per game allowed, but the more concerning number is the conference-high 19 touchdown passes with just five interceptions. That and a 60.2 percent completion rate allowed are why the Bears are last in passing efficiency defense (146.2). Although to be fair, Oklahoma State has given up more yards through the air per game (256.0) and is not too far behind Baylor with 17 touchdown passes allowed and just four interceptions.
This matchup feels like it will come down to focus. Specifically, how much of it do the Cowboys have?
With or without Charlie Brewer, the Bears should come out firing after a truly awful showing last week in Morgantown in primetime. That’s dangerous for a team like Oklahoma State facing an obvious sandwich spot.
Equally dangerous for the Pokes are the assortment of weapons among BU’s skill positions. If OSU isn’t sharp to start the game, the Bears could capitalize quickly on offense. That’s how upsets happen.
Prediction: Baylor 35, Oklahoma State 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.