OSU-Baylor: Key Matchups and Prediction

Art Briles said, "We need to put a stop to the OSU streak." The Baylor head football coach gave a long answer when asked earlier this week if he and his team were confident going into Saturday's game with Oklahoma State. The reference came after a question about feeling confident against the Cowboys following the upset win over Kansas State, in which the Bears were said to be confident.

Briles mentioned several times that he had not had a win over OSU since coming to Baylor. In fact, Briles-coached Baylor teams have wins against every Big 12 opponent other than Oklahoma State and West Virginia, and they have only played West Virginia once.

"We are overdue with them," Briles said of the Cowboys.

That right there is a good reason for the Cowboys to win again. It's nice to have an opponent smashed against the mat. The Cowboys should keep them there.

1. OSU corners Brodrick Brown, Justin Gilbert,
Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin
vs. Baylor wide receivers Terrance Williams and Lanear Sampson
This has become a regular each week on the key matchups as opposing teams have often taken advantage of the Oklahoma State corners. So much so that we've added the two freshmen, Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin, to the match up because they have started to play more and more snaps.

Playing conervative coverage and working to keep plays in front of you doesn't mean just constantly allowing receivers to catch the passes and move up and down the field.

Give Gilbert credit as he took a big chance on that one touchdown in the second quarter that later became an ESPN Sportscenter Top 10 Play of the Day. Gilbert broke in front of OU's Kenny Stills but whiffed on the interception attempt and Stills tipped the ball around before making the grab.

The Cowboys corners still have to take some chances but at some point you have to convert. Last year Brown and Gilbert combined for 10 interceptions; this season they have none. Ashton Lampkin has the only interception by a cornerback this season.

For Baylor, Williams is a Biletnikoff Award finalist with 89 catches for 1,693 yards and 12 touchdowns. Sampson has 48 receptions for 616 yards and 6 touchdowns. Williams averages 19.0 yards per catch and Sampson averages 12.8 yards a grab.

The Bears will try to stretch the field more than most teams, but they will likely try to copy the OU game plan from a week ago as the Sooners made it look too easy against the OSU corners.

Stats show Baylor is running the ball more and more (with success), and likely a lot of that has to do with burning more possession time and protecting their defense. Either way the Cowboys must be better at corner against the Bears.
Edge: Big to Baylor's Williams and Sampson

2. OSU defensive tackle Calvin Barnett
vs. Baylor center Ivory Wade
This is just a good ole fashioned one-on-one battle. Turn your to these two battling in the center of the formation when Baylor has the ball.

Wade wears No. 78 for the Bears, and Barnett is No. 99 for the Cowboys. Both have a mean streak and seem to love the hand-to-hand combat in the middle of the trenches. It will be worth you while to catch these two slugging out some during the game.
Edge: Too Close to Call

3. Cowboys offensive line and all blockers
vs. Baylor linebackers Bryce Hager and Eddie Lackey
and nickelback Ahmad Dixon
The trio of Hager, Lackey and Dixon have combined for 285 of the 835 tackles that Baylor has had this season. That is 34 percent of all the tackles made this season. That is an unhealthy number, and Baylor's defensive outlook is not too healthy.

The Bears still employ a consistent four-man front on defense with a conservative coverage, usually cover four most of the time. One change is that they will blitz more, all of the three defenders mentioned above and the corners, and sometimes they bring the house.

The OSU offense needs to account for these three players and make the effort to produce big plays. It is big plays they will turn the Bears heads and keep that Oklahoma State win streak intact. Remember that the stats show the Cowboys are at their best when they are showing off their big-play ability.
Edge: Solid to the OSU offensive line and all of the offense

OSU-Baylor Prediction
The key is to create big plays on offense and force some turnovers or empty possessions on defense. The Bears are a classic case of a team that gets better and better and creates a better opportunity for an upset the longer they hang around.

The Cowboys must score consistently and keep piling on points. They need to be sound on special teams. On defense, they need to not allow the Bears so many easy yards as they did Oklahoma last week.

There are many intangibles on the Baylor side. Baylor won in overtime last week, and OSU lost. Baylor is at home for Senior Day, and OSU is on the road, where they have won just once this season (at Kansas).

The Cowboys are the better team; the key is simply to play like it and you should be okay. Muck it up and it could be a very long day as Baylor is dangerous.

No. 24 Oklahoma State 55, Baylor 38

Week 14 Predictions
No. 11 Oklahoma 31, TCU 21

West Virginia 41, Kansas 28

No. 6 Kansas State 38, No. 18 Texas 10

Last Week's Predictions
TCU 24, No. 16 Texas 20
Actual Score: 20-13 TCU

West Virginia 42, Iowa State 28
Actual Score: 31-24 West Virginia

No. 21 Oklahoma State 28, No. 13 Oklahoma 27
Actual Score: 51-48 (OT) Oklahoma

Baylor 38, Texas Tech 31
Actual Score: 52-45 (OT) Baylor

Last Week: 3-1 SU/4-0 ATS

Record: SU 58-13/ATS 40-22 (Games involving FCS teams don't have point spreads.)

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