The no. 18 Baylor Bears will put their undefeated record on the line when they hit the road this weekend to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00 EST on Saturday, October 19 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The game will be televised nationally on Fox.
The Week 8 college football odds list Oklahoma State as 3.5-point home favorites. The over/under for the game is set at 66 points.
Two years after going 1-11, Baylor is 6-0, nationally ranked, and already bowl eligible midway through October. In other words, it’s been an incredible turnaround for Matt Rhule in Waco. That being said, the Bears have already had some close calls on their way to being 6-0. They only beat a winless Rice team by eight points last month. The Bears needed a late field goal to avoid a loss to Iowa State. Last week, Baylor needed double overtime and a dreadful call from the officials to survive an upset bid from rival Texas Tech.
The Bears have played with fire a few times this season, which will become more difficult to do during the second half of the season. Technically, Baylor is in the driver’s seat for a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game. But they have plenty of challenging games ahead of them, including a road trip to Stillwater this week.
Oklahoma State, meanwhile, is hoping to get back on track after having last week off. In their last game, the Cowboys suffered a 45-35 loss at the hands of Texas Tech, turning it over five times in a disappointing loss. It was already OSU’s second loss in conference play, dropping them to 4-2 overall and 1-2 inside the Big 12.
The Cowboys shouldn’t be too worried about breaking Mike Gundy’s 13-year bowl streak. However, Oklahoma State will probably have to run the table to have any chance of reaching the Big 12 title game. That won’t be easy, although the Cowboys should be favored in most of their games until the season finale with Oklahoma, leaving the door ajar for OSU to make a late-season run.
Oklahoma State is also hoping to turn the tide in their series with Baylor. After dominating the Bears for over 15 years, the Cowboys have lost five of their last seven meetings with Baylor, including a 35-31 loss last season. The silver lining is the Cowboys crushed Baylor 59-16 two years ago the last time the Bears visited Stillwater. Of course, that was during Baylor’s 1-11 season and Rhule has taken the program a long way since that game.
Based on last week’s close call against Texas Tech, it looks Baylor’s undefeated run could be coming to an end sooner rather than later. The Bears are a solid team, but their only road wins this year were against Kansas State and that close call with Rice. I think they’ll stumble against the Cowboys, who should be good enough to cover the 3.5-point spread.
Like most years, the Oklahoma State offense is one of the most potent in the Big 12. In fact, in their loss to Texas Tech, the Cowboys proved that one of the only teams that can stop them is themselves. Without those five turnovers, OSU probably turns a 10-point loss into a win. Obviously, turning it over five times in one game is a bit of a red flag. But even careless teams aren’t going to make it a habit of committing five turnovers in one game.
When the Cowboys aren’t turning it over, they are tough to keep contained for 60 minutes. Running back Chuba Hubbard is proving to be one of the most dynamic backs in the country, already eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark and scoring 13 touchdowns. Also, when he’s not throwing interceptions, Spencer Sanders is one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12 outside of Jalen Hurts and Sam Ehlinger.
The Baylor defense is steady, but they haven’t faced an offense like this all season. The closest they’ve come was facing Texas Tech last week, and at times, the Bears had their hands full. That bodes well for Oklahoma State’s chances of putting up points and making this game a track meet.
If this game turns into a classic Big 12 shootout, I’m not sure Baylor has the firepower to keep up. Quarterback Charlie Brewer has taken some big steps forward this season. But he’s not the kind of gunslinger who excels in high-scoring games. He’s also coming off a three-interception performance against Texas Tech. Even with a solid backfield and an all-Big-12-caliber receiver in Denzel Mims, Baylor isn’t necessarily built to win games that require scoring over 30 points. That’s a concern for me, especially on the road.
At home, I think the Oklahoma State defense will get just enough stops to get some separation from the Bears. The Cowboys have played just two home games this year, yielding no more than 14 points in both games. The home fans should be excited for Oklahoma State to face an undefeated team. That should give the Cowboys just enough of a lift to cover the 3.5-point spread.