Oklahoma State vs. Baylor Odds, Predictions: Debating This Big 12 Spread
Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Mason Cobb (Oklahoma State)
- Oklahoma State takes on Baylor in a rematch of last year's Big 12 Championship game.
- Will the Cowboys get their revenge?
- Well, we have two of our experts on both sides of the point spread.
Oklahoma State vs. Baylor Odds
These two teams faced off twice last season. In the regular season, Oklahoma State won 24-14, despite three turnovers. In the rematch in the Big 12 Championship game, the Cowboys fell inches short in a loss where they outgained the Bears by almost 100 yards.
In the two games, Oklahoma State outgained Baylor 734-522.
Spencer Sanders is back at quarterback for this fourth season and is one of the most veteran leaders in college football. He has improved each season, and currently leads the Big 12 with 305 yards per game.
Sanders has tossed 10 touchdowns to just one interception this season. He continues to use his legs well, leading the team with three rushing touchdowns.
He is the heart and soul of this team.
Receiver Braydon Johnson has been in this program since 2017, but played just one game last season before an injury ended his year. He has returned and has quickly broken out as the Big 12’s second-leading receiver with 100 yards per game.
This offense is 12th in the country in Passing Success Rate, and when it moves the ball, it finishes in the end zone. Oklahoma State is the second-best team in the nation at points per opportunity.
Baylor ranks just 65th at defending the pass the year, and the best passing attack it faced was BYU without its top two wide receivers.
When you need a big play, this Bears team lacks weapons capable of creating one. They don’t have a single receiver that ranks in the top 20 in receiving in the Big 12. They are a run first team that is 42nd in the country in yards per carry.
With a spread under a field goal, I’ll take the better quarterback and the team with guys who can make plays on the outside when it’s needed.
Baylor is just better in the trenches.
The offensive line brought back four starters and a career 119 starts. The defensive line brought back all three starters and added an impact transfer in former Tulsa defensive end Jaxon Player.
You do not want to get dirty in the trenches with the Bears.
Through four games, Baylor is eighth in Rush Success Rate and fifth in Rush Success Rate Allowed. The Bears are top-40 in Line Yards on both sides of the ball and top-40 in both Pass Blocking and Pass Rush grades. They’re 32nd in PFF’s Tackling grades.
Oklahoma State’s defensive stats look good, but its non-conference schedule featured Central Michigan, Arizona State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
This is the first real test for a linebacking unit that lost Malcolm Rodriguez, Devin Harper and Tanner McCalister. Mike Gundy lost seven defensive starters and his top four tacklers. Plus, don’t forget that Jim Knowles is currently coaching in Columbus.
Offensively, Oklahoma State lost two starters in the offseason and tackle Cole Birmingham to injury. The Pokes rank 74th in Line Yards and 86th in Rush Success Rate.
Spencer Sanders is more important than ever in Stillwater. But let’s not forget his ability to just throw games away. Remember the four interceptions he threw in the Big 12 Championship game last season?
What kind of throw is that?
Say what you want about Blake Shapen, but he ranks 30th in PFF’s Passing Grades while Sanders ranks 50th. Meanwhile, the Bears are 22nd in PFF’s Coverage grades while the Sooners are 110th.
Baylor rolls at home and easily covers a two-point spread.
Ianniello: Baylor might be better on the offensive line, but that is where Sanders' mobility is such a key asset. The Oklahoma State offensive line has allowed just one sack this season thanks to Sanders’ ability to escape trouble.
But don’t sleep on this Pokes' defense up front. This 4-2-5 defense rotates four good edge rushers in Tyler Lacy, Brock Martin, Collin Oliver and Trace Ford. They have combined for 27 pressures and five sacks in three games.
Oklahoma State is 12th in the country in creating Havoc on defense.
Oklahoma State lost some key pieces, but every college team does these days. Sure, the Cowboys ranked seventh in the Big 12 in TARP, but the Bears sit eighth.
Abram Smith was the Bears' whole offense last season at running back, and they lost their top three leading receivers. They also lost three of their top four tacklers. They lost three starters from their secondary and five of their top seven snap leaders on the back end.
Tanner wants to use clips to make a quarterback look bad? How about this throw from Shapen?
ANOTHER TOP 10 TEAM FALLS‼️
NO. 21 BYU DEFEATS NO. 9 BAYLOR 😳 pic.twitter.com/2hPa7KRLeK
— ESPN (@espn) September 11, 2022
With a chance to win the game in overtime and avoid falling out of the top 10, Shapen throws it into the third row. In the final 10 minutes of regulation — plus two overtimes — Baylor trusted Shapen to throw the ball just four times in its final 24 plays.
If the Bears don’t trust him to win a game, why should we?
McGrath: Do the Bears really need a big play? They rank 42nd in YPC, but all they do is continuously move the ball and the chains. They average over 10 rushing first downs per game and are also the third-best team in the nation in Finishing Drives.
They drive the ball down the field and punch the ball in.
Oklahoma State, however, might rely too much on needing the big play. The Pokes cannot run the ball, currently ranking outside the top 80 in both Rush Success Rate, Offensive Line Yards and Rush EPA per play.
And the Cowboys spend too much time in passing downs as a result. The Pokes spend one in every third play in a Passing Down, which ranks about 80th in FBS.
That means they rely on Sanders to be, as you said, the "heart and soul" of the team. But while he’s led an offense that’s sixth in Passing Downs Explosiveness, he also leads one that is 56th in Passing Downs Success Rate.
And if Oklahoma State spends time behind the chains, Sanders might feel the need to force it — and force mistakes.
Considering Sanders threw four interceptions in the Big 12 title game, three interceptions in his regular season game against Baylor last year and two interceptions in his regular season game against Baylor in 2020 (nine interceptions in three games if you’re counting), that is not what you want, Michael.
Meanwhile, the Bears don’t ask Shapen to do too much. Guess who has the higher PFF Passing grade this season?
Shapen 84.4. Sanders 76.2.
Ianniello: Baylor might have had success continuously running the ball to this point. But Oklahoma State’s defense is 27th in the nation, allowing just 3.1 yards per carry. The Cowboys are 10th in the country in Line Yards up front.
Obviously it is not ideal for the Cowboys to continuously be in Passing Down situations, but they rank 22nd in PPA and sixth in Explosiveness when they do get into passing downs.
When you have a good veteran quarterback, it’s not the end of the world to have to pass the ball.
When Baylor is forced to throw, that might be the end of the world though. Against FBS opponents this season, Shapen has just one Big Time Throw and three Turnover Worthy Plays.
I give Oklahoma State the edge on offense. Even if you want to give Baylor the nod on defense, it’s very close. When you look at the third element of the game though, the Cowboys have a huge advantage.
SP+ ranks the Pokes' special teams as the fifth-best unit in the nation. They rank Baylor as the 80th-best special teams unit. In a game projected to be close, that is a huge advantage for Oklahoma State.
Baylor forced a ton of turnovers last season, and was able to overcome being outplayed by capitalizing on other teams' mistakes.
That is not sustainable.
Sanders has been able to cut down on the turnovers as he has gotten more experienced, and if he can protect the football, the Pokes are the better team here.
McGrath: I’m sleeping on the Pokes' defense because, again, this is their first real test. It sure is cool to create 27 pressures and rank 12th in Havoc, but Gundy’s defense has played:
- Central Michigan: 116th in PFF’s Pass Blocking grades
- Arizona State: 95th in PFF’s Pass Blocking grades
- Arkansas-Pine Bluff: Who knows because it's literally an FCS team
The Bears, meanwhile, created eight Havoc plays and three QB hurries against BYU, then created 14 Havoc plays and another three QB hurries against Iowa State.
And both games were on the road!
Let’s see if Sanders can shake them all off — and do it on the road — considering his recent history.
To Smith, I say who needs him. Richard Reese is averaging 5.7 YPC and has six touchdowns. He is PFF’s 28th-ranked running back (min. 20 carries).
To the top targets, I say who needs them. Ben Sims has 14 receptions through three games. Hal Presley and Gavin Holmes have combined for 300 receiving yards at 18.8 YPR. The three have five touchdown catches.
Shapen won’t need to make overtime throws to beat Oklahoma State. The Bears' offensive line is going to truck Gundy’s defense and Baylor will win by a touchdown in regulation.
Ianniello: Bet Oklahoma State +2.5
Look Baylor got the Big 12 Championship victory last season over the Cowboys by less than one yard. Oklahoma State likely had a trip to the College Football Playoffs stuffed on the goal line.
You don’t think the Cowboys have been waiting to get revenge on the Bears all offseason?
This is an excellent spot for the Pokes to do so. Oklahoma State is not only coming off of a bye, it's coming off of an FCS opponent before that. The Cowboys have had essentially three full weeks to prepare for this Bears team.
Baylor is coming off of a conference game on the road against a physical Iowa State team.
Our Action Network Power Ratings make Oklahoma State a two-point favorite on a neutral field. Bill Connelly’s SP+ makes the Cowboys a one-point favorite on a neutral site.
They are telling you that Oklahoma State is the better team. Even if you want to give Baylor a couple points for home field advantage, that makes this a coin flip at best.
Give me the Pokes as the short underdog, and I trust the veteran quarterback to make a play late to give Oklahoma State its revenge.
McGrath: Bet Baylor -2.5
Baylor has won six of the last nine against Oklahoma State. Dave Aranda has Sanders' number. The Bears are better on both sides of the trenches and have home field.
I’m low on Oklahoma State overall, having already purchased an under 8.5-win total ticket on it. I’m especially low on the Cowboys this week.
The Pokes are walking into Waco to face their first test of the season after being embarrassed in the Big-12 title game last season.
That is a scary proposition.
Mike’s hope … ahem, excuse me … only hope is that Sanders carries his Pokes to a victory. Considering he’s thrown nine interceptions against Aranda’s defense, I’m not buying it.
The sharp money is buying Baylor. Our good friend Stuckey is buying Baylor. And I’m buying Baylor.