Here is everything you need to know about the Big 12 Championship in our Oklahoma State vs. Baylor preview and prediction.
Saturday, September 4th, 2021; 11:00 a.m. CST; AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
TV: ABC (Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge and Molly McGrath)
Radio: Cowboys Radio Network (Dave Hunziker), Baylor Sports Network/ESPN Central Texas (John Morris); Sirius 83, XM 83
Spread: Oklahoma State -5.5
Fun Fact: Saturday’s game marks just the second AP top-10 clash between Oklahoma State and Baylor (2015). It is also the 13th time in OSU history that the Cowboys have played in a game against any opponent in which both teams were ranked in the AP top 10.
Who is at QB?
Gerry Bohanon is considered “uncertain” for Saturday’s game. That would mean Blake Shapen would get the nod again for the Bears. Bohanon left the K-State game two weeks ago with a hamstring injury after effectively leading this team in 2021 as a first-year starter. He’s thrown for over 2,100 yards with 17 touchdowns to six interceptions, while rushing for more than 300 yards with nine rushing scores. Shapen is a freshman who has a solid arm, but doesn’t have the dual-threat ability of Bohanon. In a win over Texas Tech last week in his first career start went 20/34 for 254 yards and two touchdowns, with 24 rushing yards.
DB Jalen Pitre
Jalen Pitre is the leader of one of the best defenses in not just the Big 12, but the nation. Pitre leads the Big 12 Conference with 15.5 tackles for loss. Pitre also ranks in the Top 11 in the Big 12 in passes defended and interceptions. And he’s Top 5 in forced fumbles and No. 1 in the league in fumbles recovered. In fact, Pitre is the nation’s only player with 3+ forced fumbles, 3+ fumble recoveries and 2+ interceptions.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
QB Spencer Sanders
Sanders played the game of his life in Saturday’s win over the Oklahoma Sooners. He finished 19/30 for 214 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, while also rushing for a team-high 93 yards on 16 carries with a score. Sanders showed up and performed in the dual-threat manner that many Cowboys fans had expected and been hoping for since he stepped on campus. It hasn’t always been a smooth ride for Sanders during his Oklahoma State career, but under the brightest lights on Saturday night, the coaching staff’s confidence in him payed off in a big way. Can he continue that play against Baylor?
LB Malcolm Rodriguez
The veteran All-American candidate leads Big 12 linebackers with 107 tackles in 2021 and ranks 6th in the league with 13.5 tackles for loss. He also ranks No. 4 among all active FBS players with 238 career solo tackles and No. 6 with 386 career tackles. The two-time All-Big 12 selection is the leader of this team off the field as well and will play a huge role in guiding this team on the biggest stage any of these players have been on.
The Bears need to figure out a way to make sure their running game gets going early. The Bears have the top rushing offense in the Big 12 at nearly 230 yards per game, but they’re going up against the No. 1 rushing defense in the Big 12, as the Poke are giving up only 93 rushing yards per game, which is 27 fewer than the No. 2 rushing defense in the league (which ironically is Baylor). Especially given the uncertainty at quarterback, this team can’t be forced to potentially rely on a freshman quarterback to lead them to victory.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Cowboys need to cause chaos in the Baylor backfield. The Pokes have racked up 49 sacks in 12 games, that’s 17 more than anyone else in the league (Baylor is tied for No. 2 in that category). But the Bears have protected their quarterback(s) all season, given up the fewest sacks (12) in the league this season. But for Oklahoma State, if they’re getting into the backfield early and often, it will create panic by the Baylor offense and lead to a key turnover or two that will turn this game in the Cowboys’ favor.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 24, Baylor 20
The Cowboys have already picked up one win over the Bears this season and they’ll make it two on Saturday. They’ve been more consistent in recent weeks and have absolutely dominated and overwhelmed teams with their defense. They’ve got the edge and experience at quarterback, which in a game between two stud defenses, will end up being the difference maker in Arlington.