With just three games left on their 2013 college football schedule, Baylor still very much in the hunt to reach the BCS National Championship Game. On Saturday night, they’ll face their toughest test in their quest to compete for a title.
The Bears will visit No.10 Oklahoma State in the biggest matchup of Big 12 play. The Cowboys are second in the conference at 6-1, while Baylor, who is ranked No.4 in the BSC Standings (No.3 in the AP Poll) is undefeated on the year.
Throughout the season, Baylor has clearly been the best team in the conference. Oklahoma State was predicted to be the Big 12’s top team in the preseason.
"We got our work cut out for us this week, playing the best team in the league," Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. "Baylor's pretty much had their way with everybody they've played this year, I think everybody would agree with that. They're very deserving of being ranked third or fourth in the country. A lot of credit goes to them, so it should be a lot of fun Saturday night."
Baylor is not ranked No.1 because of the level of competition that they’ve faced, but they’ve arguably been the most dominant team in the country. All of their nine victories have come by double-digits and only one has come by less than 29 points.
Oklahoma State has its share of big wins, defeating both Texas Tech and Texas handily, each of whom were ranked at the time of their matchup. Just one of their wins has come by less than 14 points.
The Cowboys have the 14th best defense in the nation terms of points allowed, but they haven’t come close to seeing an offense like that of the Bears. Baylor leads the country with 61.2 points per game, reaching the 70-point mark four times, as well as a 69-point performance. They are on pace to break several NCAA records, led by Heisman Trophy candidate Bryce Petty. The quarterback has been virtually perfect this season, throwing just one interception, compared to his 24 touchdowns. He has the best passer rating in the country, ahead of Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel.
It’s not just the Bears’ passing attack that the Cowboys need to worry about. Their running game also ranks in the top 10. Both Lache Seastrunk and Shock Linwood have individually totaled more than 800 yards on the ground and eight scores.
“Everyone talks about their quarterback, but they average 300 yards rushing a game -- I don't think people really realize that,” Oklahoma State safety Zack Craig said. “Their passing is great, but their running backs are some of the best in this league.
The Oklahoma State defense, though, will present Baylor with its biggest challenge of 2013, as well. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Cowboys rank sixth in percentage of drives that result in touchdowns and seventh in red-zone efficiency.
On the road, Baylor is still a big favorite. The betting line at most Las Vegas casinos has Oklahoma State listed as 9.5-point underdogs. The Cowboys have been very good against the point spread, covering it seven out of 10 times. For the Bears, though, the odds-makers have struggled in coming up with high enough numbers. They have failed to cover the spread just once.
Betting Odds: Baylor-9.5, 78
Prediction: Baylor 48, Oklahoma State 37