The eyes of America descend upon Stillwater to the Big 12's biggest game of the year. Oklahoma State and Baylor will go to war for a chance at the Big 12 title and a trip to Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl.
The Pokes are riding high after rolling over the Longhorns in Austin and the Bears are still enjoying the fruits of an (so far) undefeated season. The two high-octane offenses are a highlight to the game's appeal, but that doesn't mean the defense isn't ferocious as well.
Baylor has the second best scoring defense in the conference, allowing an average of only 22.3 points per game. Not good news for a team like OSU that loves to rack up the points. Clint Chelf's job definitely isn't going to be easy, as the Bears have the No. 1 pass defense in the Big 12 allowing an average of only 5.4 yards per attempt and 191.8 yards per game.
A pair of linebackers, Bryce Hager and Eddie Lackey, are the first two threats to Chelf's passing game. Hager has completed 71 tackles on the season and averages a sack a game. Lackey, while he has only recorded 66 tackles through nine games, averages an astounding three sacks per game. Chris McAllister will too be looking to join the sack party as he's recorded six thus far.
Another threat to the Cowboys' passing game comes from safety Ahmad Dixon. The Waco hometown hero is quick on his feet and will just be waiting to attack anyone who's trying to catch the ball.
Now, while the Bears have the best total defense in the Big 12 (average of 4.4 yards per play and 336 yards per game) and a strong front line, there is a definite silver lining for the Pokes. Baylor's running defense is middle of the conference, allowing an average of 144.2 yards per game. Chelf and Desmond Roland should be licking their chops at the chance to take on the Bears rushing D.
I'm not going to sugar coat this one, folks. It's going to be tough. But if OSU can limit mistakes (isn't that always a point of emphasis?), get key blocks (paging Kye Staley) and run a rut into the artificial turf in the Boone, the Cowboys just might earn themselves a big time win in primetime.