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Preview: Oklahoma State vs. Baylor

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The 2-1* Cowboys begin conference play in Waco, Texas.

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

When: Saturday, September 24th, 6:30pm CST.

Where: McClane Stadium (Waco, TX)

Watch: FOX

Listen: Cowboy Radio Network

Oklahoma State University vs. #16 Baylor University

After bouncing back against Pitt last week, the Cowboys are on their way to Waco, Texas to begin conference play against the Baylor Bears. As you all know by now, Baylor is under quite a bit of scrutiny, but their off-the-field problems have yet to make their way onto the field, as Baylor enters Saturday as one of the two undefeated teams in the Big 12.

Oklahoma State will be Baylor’s first major battle of the season after the Bears have faced Northwestern State, SMU and Rice. Oklahoma State hasn’t beat Baylor since 2013, so expect a confident Baylor team.

Things to watch for — OSU

Pitt v Oklahoma State Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images
  • Mason Rudolph set records last weekend against Pitt, but yet, left many slightly unsettled. In the past two games, Mason Rudolph has been struggling with overthrowing, underthrowing, throwing balls to the moon, putting his wide receivers in tough spots, and fumbling the football. These issues will need to be tightened against an opportunistic Bears defense.
  • Score, score, score. Last week, Mason Rudolph hit James Washington on a 92-yard bomb to start the game. The Pitt game was filled with big plays down the field, and we will need to do the same tomorrow against Baylor. The Baylor offense is bound to score a lot of points, so the Cowboys will need to keep up.
  • A major key for the Cowboy’s defense tomorrow will be to contain Baylor wide receiver, KD Cannon. Cannon had a HUGE game last week against Rice, catching nine passes for 213 yards and 2 touchdowns. Him and Seth Russell seem to be getting on the same page, so expect Cannon to be targeted often tomorrow. The Cowboys secondary are due for a tough battle.

Things to watch for — Baylor

SMU v Baylor Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images
  • Over the past two weeks, Baylor has been slow to start the ball game. Baylor vs. SMU First half drives — Punt, Punt, FG, Punt, INT, FUM, FG. Baylor vs. Rice First four drives — Punt, punt, interception, punt. Baylor may be able to get away with a slow start against teams like SMU and Rice, but with OSU’s explosive scoring ability, Baylor may not be able to afford to start slow.
  • Get the ball in playmaker’s hands. Baylor has ability at the skill positions. We know about the big play ability of guys like Shock Linwood and KD Cannon, but Baylor will need some plays from guys like Terence Williams, JaMycal Hasty and returning wideout, Ishmael Zamora. JaMycal Hasty is guy who has really impressed me early this season. If you let this kid get to the outside, he’ll be standing in the endzone in the blink of an eye.
  • Baylor will look to get Seth Russell into a rhythm. Going back to a point above, Baylor has struggled in the beginning of games, and a large part of that is on Seth Russell’s shoulders. After Russell’s neck injury that sidelined him last season, Baylor will look to give him some confidence-boosting passes in order for him to find his footing. Once he finds his rhythm, the Cowboy defense needs to buckle up.

Key to the game

How will the Baylor pass defense hold up against Mason Rudolph and his many receiving weapons, and vice versa. Through three games, the Cowboys have passed for 1,081 yards and seven touchdowns. That is on pace for 4,324 yards and 28 touchdowns on the season. Not too shabby.

On the flip side, Baylor’s defense is among the stingiest in college football. Last week against Rice, Baylor allowed 31 total yards passing... Yes, 31 yards. Now, I don’t expect Baylor to hold OSU anywhere close to that number, but this is clearly a defense that will keep Yurcich awake tonight.

Prediction

Baylor is good. They have explosive athletes that are able to score at will. However, they have not looked as sharp as I expected them to look coming into the season. Seth Russell still looks to be finding his groove, Shock Linwood has been (injured?) a step slow, and they have yet to show what exactly they have against an opponent like Oklahoma State. Baylor still has some figuring out to do, and I think Oklahoma State finds themselves on top of an Art-less Baylor.

Oklahoma State — 42 Baylor — 36