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Five Things to Know about Oklahoma State-Baylor

Is Baylor’s defense legit? Does OSU have the firepower to score on anyone?

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The Cowboys are planning to cap their regular season in Waco this Saturday night. Assuming there is an actual game to play, here are five things you should know ahead of the Pokes’ finale against the Bears.

1. There might not be a game

We’ll start here because this one point might make the next four points moot. On Thursday, Baylor shut down football activities because of COVID concerns. The Bears have already had three games canceled or postponed because of coronavirus-related issues, this being one of them. OSU and Baylor were originally supposed to meet on Oct. 17.

There have been 151 positive cases in Baylor’s football department since June 1, according to an ESPN article, and during Baylor’s most recent weekly update on Monday, the school reported seven active cases in all sports, six were new from the previous week.

It should be pointed out that Baylor AD Mack Rhoades stated that their “focus remains” on playing the game as scheduled. It should also be mentioned that before that news came out, the Big 12 announced the cancelation of both OU-West Virginia and Texas-Kansas, both because of COVID concerns.

2. The Cowboys are 20-18 all-time against the Bears, but worse as of late

A series that was once pretty one-sided started to swing back Baylor’s way with the Art Briles era and the Bears surging in the Big 12 over the last decade. But OSU is just 2-6 against Baylor over the last eight years and 1-3 against Baylor since Briles was ousted, with the Pokes’ only win over Matt Rhule’s 1-11 team.

Basically, the Cowboys haven’t been great against the Bears, even when the Bears weren’t great. We’ll see if Gundy can get the better of Dave Aranda in his first year in the Big 12. Gundy is just 8-7 all-time against Baylor.

3. OSU is just breaking even in the Big 12

Over the last three seasons, OSU is 13-13 in conference games. During the three years before that, from 2015-2017, the Pokes were 20-7 against Big 12 teams. That’s a sobering drop-off.

The Cowboys need a win in Waco to stay above .500 in conference play over this three-year stretch, a small consolation for a disappointing 2020, to be sure.

4. Cowboys’ secondary locks teams down

Baylor doesn’t make its money on big plays, but I guess at 2-6, one could argue the Bears don’t make money at all.

The Bears are in the bottom half of the league in most offensive categories (last in rushing offense, ninth in scoring offense and ninth in long scrimmage plays).

But if the Bears do have plans on breaking loose for some chunk yardage, they’ll face a tough test against OSU. The Cowboys’ secondary graded out at No. 3 nationally. How about three Big 12 teams in the top 10??

Conversely, the Bears back end comes in ranked 80th out of 127 teams and, according to PFF, it’s because of a safety group that ranks 112th in coverage grade. Hopefully that lends itself to big plays from the Cowboys’ offense.

5. Baylor’s defense found something that works

While the Bears haven’t been world-beaters by any stretch, Aranda’s defense found a way to bottle of the Oklahoma’s offense in Norman last week — a rarity this century. The Bears held the Sooners to a season-low 27 points, and OU’s lowest yards-per-play average in five years (4.6).

The Cowboys have had their own offensive struggles this year, and that was accentuated with the absence of Tylan Wallace from the field late against TCU. It’s unclear if he’ll play in Waco, and that’s reason for even more concern for the Pokes offense as they try to rebound.

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