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Game Preview: Oklahoma State vs. Baylor

The Bears come to town for the first ranked-vs-ranked matchup in BPS this season.

Baylor v Kansas Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

After three weeks of shaky play and wins best characterized as by the “skin-of-their-teeth,” Oklahoma State finally put together a dominant performance in a 31-20 win against K-State.

The Cowboys scored 31 first-half points before putting two zeros up on the scoreboard in the second half. The offensive line play was much better and so was the offensive play calling, for the most part. But OSU still scored just 24 offensive points while the defense scored seven and let up 13 — K-State returned a punt for one of its touchdowns.

Kansas State may have been ranked when the Cowboys beat them last week, but the Wildcats hadn’t played anyone particularly impressive. That will be a different story this week with Baylor — new to the rankings at No. 21 — coming to town after a big 31-29 home win against Iowa State. Here’s everything you need to know to get ready.

Game Info:

When: Saturday, October 2 at 6 p.m. CT.

Where: Boone Pickens Stadium; Stillwater, OK.

Watch: ESPN 2

Listen: Cowboy Radio Network

Line: Oklahoma State (-3.5) according to Caesars Sportsbook. This means the Cowboys are 3.5-point favorites against Baylor on Saturday.

Get to know the Baylor Bears:

Baylor (4-0, 2-0) travels to Stillwater as the No. 21-ranked team in college football after an upset win at home against then-No. 14 Iowa State last weekend. Each team is coming off a home win against a ranked team to enter the AP top 25.

The Bears got off to a slow start in week one, taking down a paltry Texas State squad 29-20. But the Bears bounced back with big — but expected — wins against Texas Southern, 66-7, and Kansas, 45-7. That was followed by the win against Iowa State last weekend.

Quarterback Gerry Bohanon is having a great year in his first full year as Baylor’s starter. The junior has thrown for 823 yards and seven touchdowns against no interceptions and is completing 73.3 percent of his passes (66-90).

Abram Smith is pacing the Bears on the ground with 413 yards and five scores on 57 total rushes — good for 7.2 yards-per-carry. R.J. Sneed leads Baylor in receiving with 18 catches for 317 yards and a score, so Bohanon does a good job of spreading the ball around.

Perhaps the easiest way to understand what Baylor might do is to look at its performance against Iowa State — the only respectable team it has played so far, with all due respect to Texas State, Texas Southern and Kansas.

Baylor’s play selection broke down to 19 passes and 33 rushes against Iowa State. Bohanon completed an accurate 14-of-19 for 159 yards and two scores. His average completion went for 8.8 yards, so the passing game was effective but not as much of a big plat threat. For comparison, Spencer Sanders threw for 344 yards (10.1 yards per completion) on 22-of-34 and two scores through the air against Kansas State last week. At 64.7 percent, Sanders was a full nine points less accurate than Bohanon last week, but was more of a big play threat.

Similar to what we know Sanders to be, Bohanon is also a running threat. He totaled 36 yards and a score on 10 carries last week, compared to nine carries for 18 yards and a score for Sanders. The Oklahoma State run game was about equal to Baylor’s last week. OSU’s leading rusher (Jaylen Warren) totaled 123 yards on 27 carries while Smith racked up 47 yards on 10 carries to pace the Bears. That’s 4.6 YPC for Warren and 4.7 YPC for Smith.

Baylor tops OSU in most statistical categories partly due to a poor start for the Cowboys in their first three games. Baylor operates a methodical offense that doesn’t put up attention grabbing numbers, but is efficient and grinds opponents into the ground. Oklahoma State will need another superb defensive showing and will need the offense to find a rhythm early to have a chance.

What else to read:

Picks From Joes by Robert Whetsell

Week Five CFB Preview (to be posted later, check the site) by Ryan Harris

Who to follow on Twitter:

Cowboys Ride For Free

Matt Harris

Micah Allen

Phillip Slavin

Ryan Harris

Robert Whetsell

Jacob Ingalls

Ian Nikkel

OSU Cowboy FB

Baylor follows:

Baylor Bear FB

Our Daily Bears

Final Prediction:

This is a tough game to pick. Oklahoma State looked listless on offense through the first three weeks of the season but seemed to find itself last week. Still, just 24 offensive points and none in the second half is worrying. If OSU doesn’t score in the second half for the third week in a row, I think Baylor wins this game.

The Bears have been playing good football for the last few weeks against mostly inferior opponents. Of course, OSU played some of those games too, and looked less than impressive. Knowing the type of coach that Dave Aranda is and looking at the numbers, this feels like a game OSU will lose if it can’t put together a mostly complete game.

Baylor has played fairly consistently all season long save for the season opener against Texas State. But Baylor is still a hard team to get a read on. The Bears struggled in 2020 and in the season opener before doing what they were supposed to do against two bad teams. Then came an impressive win against Iowa State, but the home crowd certainly helped in that and one can wonder how good the now unranked Cyclones are after a 2-2 start that includes a narrow win against Northern Iowa and two ranked losses to Iowa and Baylor.

Oklahoma State feels like the more talented team but Baylor feels like the more consistent team in my opinion. I’m 2-2 picking the Cowboys this season and I feel like they’ve done enough for me to give them the benefit of the doubt in this one. However, I think the game will be close and I like consistent teams in close games.

Keep an eye on the offensive line play and the defense. If the offensive line has a good game, this offense can score enough points to win and that’s going to be the key to the game. If the offensive line play isn’t good, well... the defense can only do so much. I think the offensive line play will be somewhere in between, so I’ve got Baylor covering the small spread but losing late as the Cowboy defense steps up:

Oklahoma State, 27 — Baylor, 24