This isn't last year's Baylor defense that Oklahoma State was able to burn in Stillwater.
This is an improved unit that is becoming more formidable each game. That means the Cowboys anemic offense won't be catching a break in Waco this weekend. It is only going to get worse from here though. This game could very well be unwatchable for all four quarters.
The Cowboys have talent to run the ball, but the offensive line has held them back from being able to open up the field. Baylor inside their new digs are only allowing about 53 yards a game to opponents on the ground. That does not bode well for a team trying to find something that will work. Note though, that Baylor's home schedule has been a weak one overall. That is skewing some of the numbers. Even overall, the Bears are only allowing about 108 yards a game. The last time the Cowboys hit that mark was against Kansas State, but they had to run the ball 40 times to get to 112 yards.
An interesting stat to keep in mind during the game is Baylor's third and short defense. On third downs with three yards or less to go, the Bears allow on average 7.21 yards. That is huge. If the Cowboys can play for third and short, maybe they can move the ball across the field some.
Against conference opponents, the Bears are allowing 243 yards passing per game. The Iowa State game was the last time that the Cowboys surpassed 243. Without the run game, Daxx Garman, if he plays, will again have no options to pass to besides going long and hoping for the best. The Bears will probably have one or two interceptions by the end of the game Saturday.
The two that will likely come down with those picks are Orion Stewart and Xavien Howard. Both have three interceptions this season and lead a younger Bear defensive back corps.
Most fans will remember Eddie Lackey from last year's Bear defense, but this year it is all about Bryce Hager. Hager leads the team in tackles and averages over eight a game. He will be flying around the field, much like Lackey did during his career.
There are freaks of nature, and then there is Shawn Oakman. Oakman, is 6'9 and is starting this year for the first time. Oakman has been a force in the backfield, recording 12.5 tackles for loss this season. Daxx Garman will likely become well acquainted with Oakman if the season's history holds true.
The players that need to step up for the Cowboys are pretty obvious. The offensive line in general. They have been thrown around all season and maybe they'll have had enough come game time in Waco. It won't likely happen though. Garman will need to be calm if he does play. Being worried about an injury and the sea of green that will be coming through his offensive line will test him mentally. If he can overcome that, then there might be a ballgame after all.
I don't see it going well though, and the final score will reflect that.
Baylor wins 63-10
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