When No. 4 Oklahoma State (10-0, 7-0) hosts No. 10 Baylor on Saturday night in Stillwater, they'll be playing for more than just their undefeated record. The Cowboys' College Football Playoff lives are at stake as the Bears roll into town looking to deal them their first loss and a blow to their hopes for a national championship.
The Big 12 was left out of the top four last year and is in danger of falling victim once again. In a conference without a championship game, it’s imperative that Big-12 teams impress the selection committee with their in-conference resume enough to warrant a spot in the CFP. Oklahoma State has won every game but lacked style points along the way and likely needs to go unbeaten in order to find themselves with a shot at a national championship. The first step is beating Baylor before the Bedlam game with Oklahoma on Nov. 28.
After a resume-boosting 49-29 trouncing of TCU, the Cowboys narrowly escaped a 17-point hole against Iowa State (3-7) last week, 35-31. Oklahoma State moved up to No. 6 in the latest CFP rankings while Baylor's postseason hopes were dealt a severe blow as they dropped to No. 10 after losing to No. 7 Oklahoma in Waco.
The Cowboys are second in the Big 12 in scoring defense (24.5 points) but may have their hands full with the most prolific offense in the nation. Baylor leads the nation in points (54.8) and total offense (637.9 yards) per game. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham has 11 touchdowns on the season and just two interceptions, both coming in the loss to Oklahoma, while wide receiver Corey Coleman leads the nation in touchdown catches (20). Baylor has an advantage on the ground with the conference’s No. 2 rusher Shock Linwood (1,149 yards, 9 TD) pacing a unit that runs for 292 yards per game.
While goal-line runner and backup quarterback J.W. Walsh has 10 scores, Oklahoma State ranks ninth in the Big 12 in rushing. However, they could look to the run a bit more this week as they face a Baylor defense that has surrendered 499 rushing yards over the last two weeks. Through the air, Mason Rudolph has thrown 18 touchdowns to eight interceptions with his top two targets being the Big 12’s No. 5 and No. 6 receivers in James Washington (820 yards) and James Glidden (714 yards). Over his last four games, Rudolph has thrown for nine scores and just one interception.
Early Outlook: With everything on the line and knowing they were lucky to escape last week, Oklahoma State should feed off the energy at Boone Pickens Stadium. This should be a high-scoring game, and the Cowboys defense probably has enough to hold off the Bears.
Predicted Score: Oklahoma State over Baylor, 38-30.