The Big 12 Championship Game kicks off on Saturday between Oklahoma State and Baylor. The Bears are playing for the title for the second time in three years, while it’s the first Big 12 Championship game for the Cowboys.
It’s a sign of a new era for the Big 12, which has undergone a lot of changes during a rollercoaster few months. So with that being said, the HCS staff has decided to go ahead and make their Big 12 Championship Game predictions.
Here you go.
Pete Mundo: Oklahoma State 24, Baylor 20
The Cowboys will 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). And while the Bears have protected their quarterback(s) all season, giving up the fewest sacks (12) in the league this season, but the fact that Baylor may be playing a freshman QB in Blake Shapen only benefits Oklahoma State in this spot as they look to cause chaos and create a key turnover or two.
Ultimately, 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.
Derek Duke: Oklahoma State 28, Baylor 17
First off, congrats to these two football teams for what they have been able to accomplish this year. When many (including myself) had Oklahoma and Iowa State in, it’s easy to forget about what other teams are capable of but I didn’t see either one of these teams making it to the title game.
As for the game itself, both teams have outstanding defenses. Oklahoma State’s defense is first in the Big 12 against the run and first in scoring defense. Meanwhile Baylor is second against the run and also second in scoring defense. Each offense will have their fair share of struggles but there is one big difference that sticks out which is the quarterback position.
Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon’s status is still uncertain and even if he does manage to play, he is not 100% healthy with a bad hamstring. Blake Shapen has been serviceable, but I am not sure if I would trust him in a game like this against a defense like Oklahoma State’s. As for Spencer Sanders, he has played in big games and has the experience. Will he make a mistake or two? Maybe but I think that Oklahoma State will generate a big play or two that puts them over. Last time these two teams met, Baylor won the turnover battle 3-0 and still were dominated by the Cowboys. If Gerry Bohanon were fully healthy, I would feel much better about Baylor chances but since he is not, I am sticking with Oklahoma State.
Matthew Postins: Oklahoma State 27, Baylor 23
As I was telling the Sirius XM Big 12 radio show Friday morning, it’s rare to have two teams that are relative mirror images of each other in a championship game like this. Both Baylor and Oklahoma State want to run the ball and want to use their defense to control the game. Both of them have done that all season. Both of them have had impressive performances recently. But I think Oklahoma State’s defense is just a cut above Baylor’s right now. Plus, with the lack of clarity around who will play quarterback for Baylor, I think that helps me make my decision. Oklahoma State takes the title game, and we’ll see what happens on Sunday.
Robert Graves: Oklahoma State 24, Baylor 23
Oklahoma State and Baylor are both extremely good, well coached teams, but I have concerns about both entering this game.
My big concern for the Cowboys is that the weight of how much they have to lose with a single loss is starting to get to the them. My theory is that we saw the effects of this through the first half and into the beginning of the second against the Sooners. The OSU defense wasn’t the same in the first half, and the team made several gaffs to begin the second. Oklahoma fans will likely be angered to hear this, but the Sooners aren’t good enough to have Oklahoma State on the ropes: I think Oklahoma State put itself on the ropes against Oklahoma due to the pressure of the moment.
My concerns for Baylor, aside from the status of Gerry Bohanon, is that the running game has been seriously slowed over the last two games by K-State and Texas Tech. Both the Cats and the Raiders have good rushing defenses, but niether is as good as Oklahoma State’s. To make matters worse, Texas Tech’s offense got rolling a bit against Baylor’s defense in the 4th quarter, and the Raiders had a chance to win the game on their final possession.
I have gone back and forth on who I think wins this game. In the end, I think Oklahoma State is just too good on defense.
Bryan Clinton: Oklahoma State 27, Baylor 24
Does Baylor have Gerry Bohanon and is he at full strength? I think that could make the difference in this football game, because if he is the Baylor offense is as dangerous and dynamic as there is in the Big 12 this year. Bohanon’s ability to make plays with his legs is what led to Baylor dominating Oklahoma in Waco a few weeks ago and he can present issues for Oklahoma State as well. If he can’t go, freshman Blake Shapen will play the toughest defense in the conference in just his second start. That’s not a good combination.
For Oklahoma State, my only concern is a letdown after last week. Their win over Oklahoma was a thriller and came down to the final seconds, but they ultimately prevailed because of a dominant defensive showing. This game was close back in early October, but Spencer Sanders also threw three interceptions in that game. If he can play a clean game, OSU can allow the running game to control the flow offensively, and lean on a stout defense.
Baylor looked distracted last week against Tech, but I don’t see that being the case this week. If Gerry Bohanon plays, he will likely be less than 100%, and that matters. Both teams show up and execute great game plans, but the Cowboys take home the Big 12 trophy with a stop late in the fourth quarter.