By Ben Everett | Sports Writer
Baylor football will take on No. 14 Oklahoma State at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Stillwater, Okla.
The Bears (0-5, 0-2) and Cowboys (3-1, 1-1) are both coming off bye weeks.
Baylor head coach Matt Rhule said the team is as healthy as its been this season with multiple offensive weapons coming back from injuries, including senior tight end Ishmail Wainright and sophomore running back JaMycal Hasty.
“It is nice to have some of those guys back,” Rhule said. “We’ll see what kind of role Ish Wainright will play after being out for a while, coming back from mono. JaMycal [Hasty] is [practicing fully] today. He practiced last week, limited and then he practiced today. So we think JaMycal is ready to go, and if so, we’re going to use him.”
Hasty began the season as the starting running back before spraining his knee in the season opening loss to Liberty on Sept. 2.
Wainright served as backup tight end in the first two games of the season before missing three games due to Mononucleosis.
Meanwhile, the defense might be without veteran leaders in senior safeties Davion Hall and Taion Sells, as well as sophomore safety Chris Miller, who are all questionable to play against the Cowboys due to undisclosed injuries.
As a result, junior cornerback Verkedric Vaughns and sophomore safety Rajah Preciado will start against senior receiver James Washington and the Oklahoma State passing game.
Sophomore cornerback Graylond Arnold said it’s an honor to go up against Washington and the talented Cowboys’ receiving corps.
“He’s a great receiver,” Arnold said. “He’s probably one of the top receivers in the country. It’s a privilege to go out and compete against some of the best. I feel like it’s going to be a great experience for all the corners and [defensive backs].”
Rhule said the combination of Washington, senior quarterback Mason Rudolph and sophomore running back Justice Hill makes for a tough assignment for the Baylor defense.
“James Washington is a dynamic playmaker,” Rhule said. “Mason Rudolph is accurate. And more importantly than anything else, he’s calling the game with the line and getting them the right play. He looks like a pro quarterback. They do a great job up front with a physical, rugged offensive line, and Justice Hill is really a special back for a sophomore. It’ll be a challenge for our defense.”
Defensively, the Cowboys are led by senior defensive tackle DeQuinton Osborne, who leads the team with three sacks and six tackles for loss on the season.
Rhule said Osborne is one of his favorite players and loves watching him play.
“They have some really talented defensive players, my favorite of which is DeQuinton Osborne,” Rhule said. “I think he’s one of the best defensive linemen in the Big 12. I love the way he plays, and I look forward to shaking his hand after the game.”
Sophomore quarterback Zach Smith and the Baylor offense will look to avoid that pressure and continue to make big plays.
The Bears lead all of Football Bowl Subdivision, (FBS), with seven plays of 60 and 70-plus yards.
Sophomore receiver Denzel Mims is second in the nation with seven receiving touchdowns and ranked No. 15 nationally with 533 receiving yards. Sophomore receiver Pooh Stricklin will look to continue his hot streak, having posted back-to-back 80-plus yard receiving games.
Stricklin said picking up a road win would be big for the Bears.
“Getting a road win would get a little bit of pressure off our backs,” Stricklin said. “But we have confidence. It’s just about going out and executing.”
Baylor has won three straight against Oklahoma State, but the Cowboys lead the all-time series 19-16.
The Bears return home to take on West Virginia at 7 p.m. Oct. 21 at McLane Stadium for Homecoming.