The roller-coaster ride was more fun last Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium. In the end, after the weather delay, the Cowboys strung together a few plays on both sides of the ball – and had the better punter – for a 45-38 win over Pitt. That was a good win! I think Pitt will end up winning eight or nine games this season and I think they may get the best of North Carolina and Larry Fedora on Saturday in Chapel Hill.
On to the Big 12 and the sea of gold in Waco as Baylor has planned a "gold out" for the Cowboys trip to McLane Stadium on Saturday.
I think Mason Rudolph will be able to throw the ball against Baylor and the Bears will have trouble covering James Washington and the entire fleet of Cowboys receivers. I think Rennie Childs and Justice Hill will get some things done in the run game. But if Oklahoma State is going to win, as I predict, the Cowboys will have to have a better effort on defense and they will need to win the special teams. On the surface, you would think those two things could and would happen, but never trust the surface because there is always a leak, an earthquake, a thunderstorm, or some other happening to make these type of games interesting.
I think it is a game where the last team with the ball and the kicker with the best foot wins. I'm thinking that will be Oklahoma State and Ben Grogan.
Here are the key matchups for Oklahoma State at No. 16 Baylor.
OSU Defensive Tackle #96 Vincent Taylor
vs. Baylor Offensive Center #55 Kyle Fuller
This is good old-fashioned mean and ornery as Fuller has shown this season that although experienced and counted on for leadership and to be an example he has a temper. Fuller has drawn a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in each game. Just one, because two gets you shown to the locker room for the rest of the game. Taylor has scouted this out and he's looked for the buttons to push. You see, Taylor has discipline, is a leader on the Oklahoma State defense, and loves to tick-off opposing offensive linemen. Taylor can do that just with his play as he has been really good at getting penetration and causing plays to go afoul. This is a big challenge because Fuller is 6-5, 315 pounds and full of mean himself. It is two players picked as preseason All-Big 12 at their positions going head-to-head to see who is the best. They will each win some battles and it will be well worth skipping watching the ball every play to catch a few of the mano-y-mano battles between these two.
My Call: I'll call it a draw, but give the edge to Taylor if Fuller gets called for his fourth personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
OSU Wide Receivers #28 James Washington and #81 Jhajuan Seales
vs. Baylor Cornerbacks #3 Tion Wright and #11 Jameson Houston
Baylor may be in trouble here as its best corner in Ryan Reid is hurt and likely not to play. Reid would have been the guy to cover Washington as much as possible. The other issue for Baylor is the Bears are a strong team at the safeties, down the middle of the field, but Orion Stewart went out in the second period of the Rice game with a rib injury and did not come back. I think Stewart will play, but will he be compromised some. Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett loves to play 4-press and will run Cover 0 behind many of his blitzes, but that may be hard to do because of the injuries. Most of the time Baylor loves to be in a track meet, but not on Saturday night. Oklahoma State has the better 4x100-relay team in this one.
My Call: Even if Baylor brackets and uses top coverage on Washington the Cowboys win because Seales, Chris Lacy, Austin Hays and Jalen McCleskey will tear up the coverage.
OSU Kicker #19 Ben Grogan
vs. Baylor Kicker #40 Chris Callahan
I couldn't believe it last week as Baylor's Chis Callahan missed two field goals in a row and ended up exchanging shoves with a teammate on the sidelines in the second half. Ben Grogan missed one last week from 49 yards and that is likely the extent of his range. He came back and nailed a 45-yard field goal. Grogan has been really good at hitting the game winners as he did it twice last season at Texas and at home against K-State. A senior that seems really confident after having two hip surgeries, one on each side, Grogan should be sliding into a rhythm about now like he has the last three seasons. If it comes down to the wire and a field goal kick, anywhere further than 35 yards and inside 50, well, I like Grogan, and Baylor should worry if it is Callahan. Hints around Waco are the Bears have been looking at other kicking candidates. That is never a good sign.
My Call: Grogan has been money for the win and Callahan has been shaky.
Oklahoma State-Baylor Prediction
I've said all week that this game is going to be close, but it is also still a battle of teams with a lot of unknowns. Baylor is really an unknown as the Bears have failed to score in the first quarter of two consecutive games for the first time in years. SMU and Rice are not to be confused with the Monster of the Midway or any other rock 'em, sock 'em defensive dynasties. The losses of attrition in part due to the off-the-field issues have hurt Baylor in the offensive and defensive lines and in depth. They still have top-flight skill players and good starters but they are not as good as the last six or seven years. We know that Oklahoma State can throw the ball deep. We know the running game is improving, but the defense has me mystified and maybe the defensive staff as well. I thought this was a really strong collection of players on that side of the ball. Answers will come on Saturday night. On the road, at the end of the game, I really think Oklahoma State will take over and have the last chance to win. It could come down to a kicker and as shaky as Ben Grogan has been sometimes early in the season, he has lately been money on game-winning kicks. Baylor's Chis Callahan has been getting made fun of by teammates and then getting in sideline tussles. I like the Cowboys in this one right at the wire.
Oklahoma State 41, No. 16 Baylor 38
Big 12 Predictions
Record: Last Week, SU 7-1 ATS 5-3; This Year, SU 19-8 ATS 11-9.
SMU 20, @ #21 TCU 38
TCU will wear the Mustangs down, but it might take three quarters as that's how long it took Baylor.
San Jose State 14, @Iowa State 24
Give Matt Campbell the game ball as he notches his first win at Iowa State.
West Virginia 31, BYU 27 (at Landover, Md.)
Mountaineers stay unbeaten and alive as my sleeper in the Big 12 Conference.
Missouri State 6, @ Kansas State 42
Wildcats still have some more cupcake to chew on before getting back to a team that hits back in WVU next week.