By Shehan Jeyarajah
The games just keep on keep on getting bigger for Baylor. Only two weeks ago, fans were hoping Baylor could get some legitimacy as a program with a test against No. 10 Oklahoma. After passing that test with flying colors, Baylor destroyed Texas Tech. Every test that Baylor has been given, it has aced.
The eyes of the nation will be on Stillwater this Saturday night as No. 4 Baylor (9-0, 6-0) puts everything on the line in a program-altering matchup with No. 10 Oklahoma State (9-1, 6-1). Baylor has not won a game in Stillwater since 1939.
Baylor comes into this game with the highest-powered offense in the history of college football up to this point in the season. The Bears are on pace to be the only team in FBS history to average both 300 yards through the air and on the ground.
Baylor leads the nation in total offense with 684.8 yards per game, more than 100 yards better than second-place Oregon. The Bears also average 61.2 points per game. Florida State is second in scoring at 52.7 points per game.
Junior quarterback Bryce Petty is top five in the country in passing yards with 332.4 yards per game on 25.9 passing attempts per game. Petty has also added 34 all-purpose touchdowns to go along with only one interception on the season so far.
Baylor has relied on a running back by committee with senior running back Glasco Martin and junior running back Lache Seastrunk limited with injuries.
With more opportunity, freshman running back Shock Linwood has exploded.
In his last three games, Linwood has rushed for 475 yards and three touchdowns on 7.8 yards per carry.
With the huge performances, Linwood has moved to 11th in yards per rush and 27th in yards per game list. No team in the nation has multiple players who average more than 100 yards on the ground per game. Linwood and Seastrunk have been essential to Baylor staying in the top 10 in rushing yards.
Senior wide receiver Tevin Reese was lost for the season with a dislocated wrist against Oklahoma, but there have been multiple players to step up in his absence. Junior wide receiver Antwan Goodley is top-five in the nation with 119.4 yards per game. With Reese gone, junior inside receiver Levi Norwood has posted 234 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games. Norwood also added a 58-yard punt return for a touchdown against Tech.
Baylor’s defense has been the biggest surprise of the season in the Big 12. The defense ranks 11th overall in the nation and first in the Big 12. Baylor only allows 323.0 yards per game and 17.4 yards per game.
Baylor will have its work cut out for it against an Oklahoma State team that is dynamic on both sides of the ball. The Cowboys put forth a balanced offense that averages 429.2 yards per game. The Bears also rank top 15 in the country with 40.4 points per game.
The quarterback platoon of senior Clint Chelf and sophomore J.W Walsh has combined for 258.2 yards per game, which ranks 38th in passing offense in the FBS.
The Cowboys also boast a balanced rushing attack behind senior running back Desmond Roland’s 565 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.
Oklahoma State’s defense ranks in the top 50 in the FBS and holds opponents to an average of 373.1 yards per game and merely 19.0 points per game. Despite the modest offensive and defensive rankings, the Cowboys are outscoring teams by more than 20 points per game.
Seastrunk and Martin are questionable to play this Saturday for Baylor with groin and knee injuries respectively. Junior linebacker Bryce Hager will miss the game with a groin injury, and sophomore left tackle Spencer Drango will be out after undergoing back surgery.
Oklahoma State wide receiver Josh Stewart is questionable for the game with a foot injury.
Baylor dismantled in-state rival Texas Tech 63-34 on Saturday. Oklahoma State went into Austin last week and embarrassed No. 24 Texas 38-13. Both teams come into this game with huge momentum.
Oklahoma State is one of the most consistent scoring teams in the Big 12 this season, behind only Baylor. To ensure victory, it’s vital for Baylor’s defense to force takeaways. The Cowboys also lead the Big 12 in interceptions, so Petty will have his work cut out for him making sure he doesn’t turn the ball over.
Baylor has more talent than Oklahoma State, but it will come down to execution in a hostile road environment.
The Bears have never won in Stillwater, including a humbling 59-24 loss during Robert Griffin III’s Heisman season in 2011. For the Bears to stay in the national championship picture, that will have to change.
No. 4 Baylor football will travel to Stillwater to play No. 10 Oklahoma State at 7 p.m. Saturday. The matchup will be broadcast live on ABC nationwide. ESPN’s College Gameday will also be at OSU.