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Big 12 Schedule: Three Hurdles OSU Needs to Overcome to Beat Baylor in 2022

The Bears are filthy along both sides of the line of scrimmage.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

Last fall, Oklahoma State stood at the precipice of winning its first conference championship in a decade, but came up just inches short. If the Cowboys want to make their way back to the Big 12 title game, they’ll will need to exorcise their Arlington demons against the reigning champs. And that starts in the league opener.

With that ultimate goal in mind, let’s take a game-by-game look at OSU’s conference slate to see what might trip the Cowboys up on their journey back to the Big 12 Championship. Again, that starts with the reigning champs.

Baylor Hurdle 1: An Experienced (and Stout) Offensive Line

The Bears return four of five starters on a stout offensive line that might be the best in the league this fall. That front line is anchored by a pair of seniors in returning First-Team All-Big 12 left tackle Connor Galvin and center Jacob Gall, who was an All-Conference Honorable Mention. Baylor also returns sixth-year senior Khalil Keith at the right tackle spot and fifth-year senior guard Mose Jeffery.

Behind those behemoths, Baylor led the Big 12 in rushing offense last year and was No. 10 nationally at just under 220 yards per game. And under their protection, Blake Shapen was able to win a Big 12 trophy in just his second start. The Cowboys did log six sacks at Jerry World, but the Bears’ O-line kept Shapen upright enough to post the highest passer rating of any QB against the vaunted Cowboys defense last year.

Baylor Hurdle 2: A QB with Some Momentum (and Moxy)

Shapen came in for an injured Gerry Bohanon late in the season and, despite riding the bench in the Bears’ bowl game, he did enough to win the QB competition this spring and send the elder passer to USF via the transfer portal.

It’s a small sample size, but Shapen has yet to throw an interception to his five touchdowns. He spelled Bohanon for a good chunk against Kansas State and then went 2-0 as a starter.

There is always the chance of a sophomore slump, and defenses will be much better prepared for Shapen this go around. But, as we’ve seen, Shapen has the skill and the protection to make plays against any defense.

Baylor Hurdle 3: An Even More Experienced Defensive Front

Baylor returns its entire two-deep on a defensive front that ranked second only to OSU in sacks, tackles for loss and third-down defense last season. And the Bears add graduate transfer defensive tackle Jaxon Player from Tulsa. Player had a nice outing against OSU last year, logging two QB hurries on Spencer Sanders and tackling Jaylen Warren for a loss (not easy). He included the Cowboys in his Top 5 schools when he hit the market but the Waco native ultimately decided to head back to his home town.

Player will add to a defensive interior that includes Siaki Ika, who is an absolute game-wrecker. Ika’s stats aren’t all that eyepopping with 4.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss last season, but the 6-foot-4, 358-pound junior causes teams to put a lot of resources into stopping him, which frees up the rest of the Bears’ defense.

Spencer Sanders was the preseason pick to repeat as Big 12 First-Team QB, but the defensive front that gave him the most trouble (one TD to seven INTs in two games), will do it’s best to dismantle his run to Arlington before it begins.

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