OSU-Baylor: Key Matchups & Predictions

Okay, here you go as the new world order of the Big 12 goes into play with Oklahoma State hosts Baylor for the showdown to decided the conference title. No OU, no Texas, this is a sign of the way things may be in the future. Kansas State won it last year, OSU the year before that, and it looks like OSU or Baylor this year. There will be some that don't like it, but I love it.

1. OSU cornerbacks Justin Gilbert, Kevin Peterson,
Tyler Patmon and Ashton Lampkin
vs. Baylor wide receivers Antwan Goodley, Jay Lee,
Robbie Rhodes and Darius Jones
This is the huge matchup on defense where Baylor, by formation, forces opposing defenses to go man on the outside with the wide receivers. Or, if they chose to play zone, give up strength in the box against the Baylor run game that averages 300 (very controlling) yards a game.

The good thing is the Cowboys are more aggressive in the secondary than a year ago and they are better equipped and more confident in their man coverage. That said, Baylor is good with Goodley averaging 22.4 yards a catch and Rhodes developing into a sensational young playmaker.

The Cowboys are a little beat up and Baylor is missing Tevin Reese, who was averaging 25 yards a catch. The Cowboys corners need to maintain short memories as Baylor will win some plays, but the Cowboys corners need to win more.
Advantage: Too Close to Call

2. OSU defensive ends Tyler Johnson, Jimmy Bean, Sam Wren and Trace Clark
vs. Baylor offensive tackles Kelvin Palmer, Troy Baker and Pat Colbert
The bad news for the Bears came out on Tuesday when it was learned that starting left tackle Spencer Drango's bad back had developed into a ruptured disc and required surgery. Drango is arguably the Bears second best offensive lineman behind Outland Trophy finalist Cyril Richardson. Drango had racked up 22 consecutive starts.

The Bears rush for more than 300 yards a game and they have only given up 13 sacks. The apparent replacement for Drango will be Colbert, who has not started a single game, or they might move over one of the right tackles. If the left tackle position becomes a problem then left guard Richardson could be moved out. Either way those are a lot of moves and can be detrimental to an offensive line's continuity.

Tyler Johnson and his gang of OSU defensive ends need to be smelling blood, including advancing playmaker Sam Wren. I believe they might be able to make more of an impact on pressuring Bryce Petty than anybody has this season.
Advantage: OSU defensive ends Tyler Johnson, Jimmy Bean, Sam Wren and Trace Clark

3. OSU quarterback Clint Chelf
vs. Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon and the Baylor secondary
Very simple here as Dixon and the Baylor secondary have turned into a snarling ultra-aggressive band of brothers that don't mind a yellow flag or two or three during the game. They play a beat or two after the whistle and they have intimidated receivers, runners, and quarterbacks into mistakes.

Chelf needs to make sure he doesn't make any mistakes. The margin for error is razor thin. OSU head coach Mike Gundy said it the other day, you have to score. Baylor is going to score and your offense has to score too. In the red zone, get touchdowns and not field goals. No turnovers, no three-and-outs.

Chelf needs to take the fight to the Baylor defenders and do it with a calm, cool and calculating demeanor that is very capable of exhibiting. Chelf got a raw deal in Waco last season as he did throw a pick six to linebacker Eddie Lackey, but he also had a couple of touchdown passes dropped. Clint needs to make sure he encourages full cooperation, leads efficiently, and eliminates mistakes while making plays.
Advantage: Too Close to Call

Oklahoma State-Baylor Prediction
To be totally honest, last Sunday I seriously thought Baylor would win by two touchdowns. But I knew that I would pick Oklahoma State because after seeing what these players have accomplished and the way they have come together since the disappointing loss at West Virginia, I cannot pick against Lavey, Lewis, Lowe, Gilbert, Barnett, Castleman, Johnson, Chelf, both Moores, Stewart, Graham, Webb, Jenkins, Staley, and all the rest.

Now, after watching tape and drawing a bead on how these two teams match up, I believe that Oklahoma State will win. The defense will give Baylor more problems on offense than the Bears have had in any game this season. Both teams will win their share of plays and in the end Oklahoma State will need to win a few more.

The critical matchup is the Oklahoma State offense and the Baylor defense. The Cowboys have to score points and they will need to max out the effort from the offensive line to all the skill positions. Clint Chelf, as mentioned above, does not need to do any more than he has in any game so far this season. In fact, he needs to do less of one thing. He cannot turn the ball over. He needs to eliminate those one or two turnovers he seems to have in each game.

The Cowboys need to win special teams and they are capable of that. The home stadium needs to help some and I believe the cold weather will favor OSU a little as well.

I picture this being very similar to the Kansas State game in 2011 as one of the two teams will likely be trying to win the game in the final seconds. I'm predicting OSU either holds on or makes the play if the Cowboys are the ones knocking on the door at the end.

Oklahoma State 41, Baylor 35

Big 12 Predictions
(Rankings are from USA Today Coaches Poll)
Kansas State 24, No. 18 Oklahoma 20
Oklahoma playing a little sluggish last week and the Sooners are now without some needed suspended playmakers on offense. Kansas State wasn't great last week but the Cats are at home and have the better defense in some tough weather.

Iowa State 17, Kansas 14
It will be brutally cold and windy at Jack Trice and the Cyclones with a trip ahead to West Virginia get their best chance for a Big 12 Conference win. Jayhawks can't carry momentum in the cold.

Last Week - Straight Up: 4-1; Against the Spread: 3-2
For the Season - Straight Up 53-12; Against the Spread: 30-26

Last Week
No. 10 Oklahoma State 35, No. 24 Texas 27
Actual Score: Oklahoma State 38, Texas 13

West Virginia 35, Kansas 16
Actual Score: Kansas 31, West Virginia 19

No. 17 Oklahoma 42, Iowa State 21
Actual Score: Oklahoma 48, Iowa State 10

Kansas State 28, TCU 20
Actual Score: Kansas State 33, TCU 31

No. 4 Baylor 56, Texas Tech 21
Actual Score: Baylor 63, Texas Tech 34

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