It’s time for our preview and prediction for the Big 12 Championship Game between the Oklahoma Sooners and Baylor Bears.
11:00 a.m. CST, December 7th, 2019, AT&T Stadium, Arlington Texas
TV: ABC (Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe)
Radio: Baylor Sports Network/ESPN Central Texas (John Morris, J.J. Joe); Sooner Sports Network (Toby Rowland, Merv Johnson); Sirius 84, XM 84
Opening Line: Oklahoma -9.5
Fun Fact: Saturday’s game will mark the first AP top-10 matchup between the Sooners and Bears. OU has made 602 all-time appearances in the AP’s top 10, while Baylor has made 77.
QB Charlie Brewer
Is it too cliche to pick the quarterback for you? Well, I’m sorry. But the reality is that this is uncharted territory for this Baylor team. And in moments like that, a team needs to look to its leader. That’s Brewer. He has been through the bad times (one win in 2017) and now to the good times, playing in 33 games in his career with 28 starts. Brewer ranks fifth in the Big 12 with 250 passing yards per game and is third in the conference in passing efficiency with 19 touchdowns and just six interceptions on the season.
DL James Lynch
Lynch was just named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and it’s well deserved. He finished first in the Big 12 with 10.5 sacks, third with 14.5 tackles for loss and had two forced fumbles on the season. According to SportsInfoSolutions, Lynch leads all of FBS with 62 total quarterback pressures on the year. Against OU last month, Lynch was relatively quiet with three tackles, zero sacks or tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries, plus one fumble recovery. He’ll look to rack up some bigger numbers on Saturday.
QB Jalen Hurts
Oh, it’s still cliche to pick a QB? Oh well. Hurts was named the First-Team All-Big 12 QB of the Year after finishing first in the Big 12 in total offense, second in rushing yards per game, and second in passing yards per game. It’s a different offense under Hurts compared to Baker Mayfield or Kyler Murray, as Hurts has made it a run-heavy offense, especially down the stretch. After averaging 12 carries per game in the first half of the season, Hurts averaged over 20 per game in the second half of the season. However, Hurts was vulnerable against the Bears, he had an interception and two lost fumbles.
CB Parnell Motley
Motley has come on strong this season in his senior campaign. Just last week against Oklahoma State he was all over the field, with six tackles (five solo), two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, an interception and a pass breakup to earn Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors. Motley got the turnaround started against Baylor last month as well with a forced fumble on Baylor’s first play of the third quarter, which kicked off the OU comeback. He’s likely to be matched up against Denzel Mims, which will be a ton of fun to watch.
In the second half of the game against OU, the Sooner shut down Charlie Brewer’s ability to run the ball. I don’t see OU letting Brewer have those lanes on Saturday, meaning he’s going to have to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers like Denzel Mims and Tyquan Thornton on the outside and let JaMycal Hasty and John Lovett try and do some damage on the ground. With the fast track at AT&T Stadium, I would challenge the Sooners through the air out of the gates. Yes, OU’s pass defense has looked strong in recent weeks, but it’s been against the least efficient passing team in the Big 12 this season (TCU) and an Oklahoma State team that was without it’s starting QB and star wide receiver. As much as OU’s secondary has appeared to improve, I want to see it with my own two eyes to believe it if I’m Matt Rhule, Jeff Nixon and Glenn Thomas.
Entering the Nov. 16 Baylor game, OU ranked 118th by averaging just 63.2 plays per game. Over the last three contests, it ranks sixth nationally by averaging 80.3 plays (95 at Baylor, 85 vs. TCU, 61 at Oklahoma State). This is what did the Bears in in the second half in Waco. OU’s offense was its best defense, putting together drives of 12 plays, 11 plays, 13 plays, 13 plays and nine plays to seal the comeback. OU’s defense is definitely getting better as well under Alex Grinch, but if Lincoln Riley can slowly wear down a Bears defense that has been stout all season long, then the Sooners will end up with a similar result to last month.
Oklahoma 31, Baylor 28
I think this is going to be the closest Big 12 Championship Game since its rebirth. Both these teams are playing very good defense at the moment, but I ultimately need to take the team with the most dynamic player (Jalen Hurts) and, by far, the most experience in these big games. This game is going to be more of a slugfest than even the final score may indicate, but eventually, OU will wear down the Bears just enough to win a fifth-straight Big 12 title for the first time since the 1970’s under Chuck Fairbanks and Barry Switzer.
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