A potential preview of the Big 12 Championship Game is on tap for Saturday night when the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners travel to take on the No. 13 Baylor Bears. The two teams are currently in the top two spots in the Big 12 standings, with the Bears at 6-0 in league play and the Sooners at 5-1. Texas is just a game behind Oklahoma at 4-2.
Baylor barely got to this contest without a blemish on its record, eking out a triple-overtime victory over TCU last week in a game that it scored just nine points in regulation. The Sooners bounced back from their only loss of the season with a narrow 42-41 win over Iowa State that wasn’t clinched until the Cyclones went for a two-point conversion and the win with 24 seconds left but didn’t convert.
The moneyline for this contest has the Oklahoma Sooners -370 and the Baylor Bears +300. Oklahoma is favored by 10 points on the road, while the over/under for the game has been set at 68.5.
The Oklahoma offense has yet to be shut down this season, as the Sooners have scored at least 34 points in every game they’ve played. Quarterback Jalen Hurts has fallen back a bit in the Heisman Trophy race, but he still has fantastic stats, throwing for 2,742 yards and 24 touchdowns with just four interceptions while also rushing for 869 yards and 15 scores. He also has one of the most dangerous receivers in the game in CeeDee Lamb, who has 44 catches for 983 yards and 13 touchdowns and is coming off an eight-catch, 167-yard, two-touchdown performance against Iowa State.
As good as the Sooners’ offense has been, the defense hasn’t been bad in its own right, though over the past two games, they’ve allowed Kansas State and Iowa State to score a total of 90 points. Junior linebacker Kenneth Murray will be important for the Sooners in this one, as he leads the team with 62 tackles, including 7.5 tackles for loss. One thing Oklahoma doesn’t do is force turnovers, as the Sooners have a total of six on the season while giving up 10.
The Bears are unscathed so far, but they have their two toughest conference games this week and next, with Texas coming to town. To get past the Sooners, Baylor must put more points on the board than it did last week, using the ground game to control the clock and keep the high-powered Sooners’ offense off the field. Not that quarterback Charlie Brewer can’t throw the ball — he has 2,338 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions — but he also has been sacked 22 times. The combination of John Lovett (532 yards, four TDs) and JaMycal Hasty (461 yards, four TDs) need to play well in this one and not force Brewer to have to be the leading rusher as he was last week against TCU.
Baylor can get after the passer, leading the Big 12 with 29 sacks, with defensive tackle James Lynch leading the conference with 8.5. Linebacker Terrel Bernard is fifth in the conference with 68 tackles, and he and the rest of the Bears will have to be mindful of Hurts’ running ability on every play. Baylor is second in the Big 12, allowing 337.4 yards per game, but they’ll have their hands full with the Oklahoma offense in this one.
Another Close One
It’s hard to say which team is going to win this game, but I don’t see it being an Oklahoma blowout. The Sooners barely escaped last week with a win, and now they’re playing on the road. If Baylor can win its final three conference games and the Big 12 Championship Game to finish 13-0, it would have quite an argument for being included in the College Football Playoff. That should be motivation enough for them to keep this within the 10-point spread. I’m taking Baylor +10 to at least keep this one close.