There were plenty of important games this weekend in the Big 12 but perhaps none were bigger than the Baylor/Oklahoma State game. It was the only conference matchup between two ranked teams.
Baylor came into the game undefeated at 4-0 fresh off a surprising win against Iowa State while Oklahoma State was also undefeated at 4-0 coming off a key win over Kansas State.
It was a primetime matchup in Stillwater but there could only be one team to walk out of Boone Pickens Stadium unbeaten. That team would be Oklahoma State as they won 24-14. Here are my three thoughts from Saturday night’s game.
1. Oklahoma State is a Big 12 Title Contender
It is not always pretty at times but 5-0 is 5-0. Oklahoma State relies on their outstanding defense to bail them out and once again, they defense did as they held Baylor to just 14 points and 280 yards. Despite being put in some tough spots, the defense held strong and only gave up three third down conversions out of fifteen attempts. Without this good defense under Jim Knowles, I am not so sure the Cowboys are undefeated.
The offense needs to be worked on but when Tay Martin is healthy, the passing game looks different. Spencer Sanders had some bad interceptions early on but somehow they managed to do enough to win the game. Running back Jaylen Warren and wide receiver Tay Martin are crucial for this team and when they are on the field, they can do enough offensively to win games as long as Spencer Sanders limits his turnovers.
2. Too Many Missed Opportunities for Baylor
Baylor was gifted three Oklahoma State turnovers and somehow the Bears offense managed to have nothing to show for it. Early on they got two of them and not only did they not get any points out of them, but they failed to score a single point in the first half. Outside of the big 55-yard touchdown run by Abram Smith, this offense was very stagnant for most of the night. Baylor failed to keep drives alive as they went 3/15 on third down and Gerry Bohanon was under pressure many times. He never got comfortable tonight and the offense suffered. The Bears have a great defense but if they want to be a serious Big 12 contender, they are going to need to be more consistent on offense.
3. Welcome to the New Big 12
Years ago, this game would have been a shootout with a 45-42 type of finish. That is not the case in 2021. The Big 12 has been trending as a defensive conference slowly and that was on full display tonight. Both of these teams want to establish a run game and play great defense. Neither offense likes to sling it around a ton like they did back years ago. If people screamed the Big 12 didn’t play defense back then I don’t want to hear them say the Big 12 doesn’t play offense now. After this weekend, I do wonder if there is an elite offense in the Big 12. I would say no however, there are plenty of good defenses in this conference.