No. 23 Oklahoma State will look to build some bowl-game momentum as they travel to Waco, Tex., this weekend to face off with the newly bowl-eligible Baylor Bears.
Baylor is coming off of two impressive wins over Big 12 opponents, beating No. 1 Kansas State two weeks ago and knocking off Tommy Tuberville's Texas Tech squad at Cowboys Stadium in Week 13.
The two teams have a common opponent in Oklahoma. Oklahoma State gave the Sooners everything they wanted in the Bedlam game in Week 13, but like Baylor, couldn't slam the door down the stretch to beat the highly ranked OU squad.
This is a big game to see where these two teams land in the bowl projections. We've got you covered with this early week preview for both teams, including television information and an early prediction for which team will come out on top.
When: Saturday, Dec. 1 at Noon E.T.
Where: Floyd Casey Stadium; Waco, Tex.
Listen: Cowboy affiliates, Bears affiliates
Betting Line: Oklahoma State -5 (according to Vegas Insider)
Injury Report via USA Today (as of 11/27/12)
QB Wes Lunt - Questionable with a head injury he suffered against Kansas State. He did not play against Oklahoma last week.
S K.J. Morton - Questionable with a groin injury that has kept him out the past two weeks.
What They're Saying
Baylor's offense is always the focus of opposing teams, and this year the Bears are doing it on both the ground and through the air. Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy knows his team is going to have to be prepared for both.
#Big12 Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy: “Baylor has a balanced attack and if you can force a team to be one dimensional it helps.”— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) November 26, 2012
While Baylor accounted for more than 800 total yards against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State has been no slouch this season, either. These two teams are the top two offenses in the Big 12, and find themselves in the national rank in the offensive category, too.
Not surprisingly, the over/under opened up at a ridiculous 81.5, as noted by Sean Callahan of Rivals.com:
Wow...the over/under for Oklahoma State at Baylor is 81.5 points! That has to be a record and I bet it still goes over.— Sean Callahan(@Sean_Callahan) November 25, 2012
Oklahoma State managed to shut down Baylor the last time these two teams met, so you can bet Gundy will draw on experience with turnovers and third-down stops to do the same. As reported in this Associated Press primer for this week, Oklahoma State has to get over the fact that they felt somewhat robbed against Oklahoma after being in a position to win:
''They should have been celebrating,'' running back Joseph Randle said. ''You should celebrate when you get lucky. We feel like they got lucky and, you know, they won the game and we lost, so they deserved to celebrate that win.''
Oklahoma State can't afford to overlook Baylor, or dwell on that loss any longer as they prepare for this weekend's game.
BCS/Top 25 Implications
Baylor has a chance to creep back into the Top 25 with a win over the Pokes this weekend, and Oklahoma State has a chance to stay there before bowl season gets underway. There's a lot of talent at the bottom of the BCS Top 25, but both teams have proven they can play with anyone in the country due to their talented offenses.
Oklahoma State Player to Watch: RB Joseph Randle
Baylor gave up 208 yards on the ground to Texas Tech, disappointing considering that Tech doesn't have a true No. 1 back and that running the ball hasn't been a priority for Tommy Tuberville. To make matters worse, Seth Doege got loose for an early touchdown run against the Bears.
They'll have their hands full against Randle, clearly one of the top three backs in the conference. He's got pro speed, potential and the stats to back it all up.
With Baylor surrendering 38.5 points per game and still struggling to tackle in space, Randle could have a field day if he plays his cards right. Baylor too will have to prepare for both the run and the pass with more diligence than usual.
Baylor Player to Watch: WR Terrance Williams
Williams broke the single-season receiving record held by his former teammate Kendall Wright against the Red Raiders, and did so by being the most dynamic guy on the field at all time.
Williams makes plays that other receivers just can't, including a few pretty sideline catches against double coverage where he was able to drag his foot to complete the catch.
The Cowboys' corners will have to double- and triple-cover the WR to keep him from being the focal point of the passing game, but that opens up holes for RBs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin and also helps Tevin Reese and Linear Sampson on the outside.
With so many weapons, can Oklahoma State afford to double-cover Williams? If they don't, he's poised for another big day.
Key Matchup: Front Sevens vs. QBs Nick Florence and Clint Chelf
Pressure always helps a defense succeed. It helped Baylor force three Doege turnovers in Week 13, and it will help both of these teams win the game when the score is on the line.
Neither Chelf nor Florence (like most college QBs) is good when pressure is in his face. Florence played turnover-free football against Texas Tech largely because he didn't have much pressure in his face all afternoon. The same goes for Chelf against the Sooners.
Who wins on the final week of the regular season?
Whichever team wins the battle in the trenches will likely force turnovers and get out to an early lead, something both teams have struggled to overcome. As usual with high-powered offenses, it's the defenses that are the key factor down the stretch.
Baylor keeps on rolling at home, using a big passing attack from Florence and the balanced offense to put up big numbers. This is a revenge game of sorts, after Baylor put up 600 yards of total offense last year and got blown out. Hard to bet against the Bears right now.
Baylor 61, Oklahoma State 51
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.