Levi Norwood and the Bears look to continue their march towards the BCS on Saturday night in Stillwater.
Photo: USA Today
No. 3 Baylor at No. 11 Oklahoma State
Saturday, 8:00 PM, ABC
Line: Baylor -10
Baylor’s run through the gauntlet to the Big 12 Championship and a BCS bowl appearance continues thus week with a visit to Stillwater, Oklahoma to take on a surging Oklahoma State team. The Cowboys have won six in a row and are in the midst of the Big 12 title race, a race they were favored to win when the season started. A slow start, particularly on offense helped hold Oklahoma State back at first. However, changes in the backfield and a commitment to the running game have made huge changes.
Baylor overcame a 14 point deficit at the start of the game last week against Texas Tech to blowout the Red Raiders 63-34. Shock Linwood, the third string running back for the Bears, got the start because of injuries and rushed for 187 yards against Tech.
The atmosphere will be electric. Can the Bear deliver a big game one more time? Or will the string of November upsets of top ranked Big 12 teams continue again this season?
For Baylor to win: Avoid a slow start. Baylor is a team that likes to play fast and score early and often. The last two weeks, that has not been the case. The Bears have struggled and stumbled out the gate against Oklahoma at home and Texas Tech on a neutral field. If you get off to slow starts there, as they have demonstrated, it can be easily rectified. However, Baylor will not want to get down early against Oklahoma State at home, especially if it is a cold night as the forecasts say it will be.
For Oklahoma State to win: Play ahead of the chains. Oklahoma State will want to take advantage of the situation, playing at home on a Saturday night on national television. A fast start and staying on schedule on offense will help the Cowboys not only control field position and momentum, but if they can take advantage of time of possession and limit the access that the Bears have to ball, the Cowboys have a chance to stay in the game and pull the upset.
Key Player, Baylor: Levi Norwood, wide receiver. The junior wide receiver has almost equaled his yardage output from last season, and most of that yardage has come over the last three weeks. In particular, last week against Texas Tech, Norwood went for 156 yards and two touchdowns. Most of the attention is paid to the running game, but with wide receiver Tevin Reese out with a dislocated wrist, Norwood has shown his value as another cog in the Baylor offensive machine.
Key Player, Oklahoma State: Caleb Lavey, linebacker. The senior linebacker and his compatriots will be busy against Baylor. Maintaining defensive discipline against the running game and being prepared to defend the intermediate routes will be crucial to maintaining a chance in the game. The Cowboys defense is first in the Big 12 and number 12 nationally in third down conversion rate, only allowing 32 percent of third downs to be converted against them. Lavey is the leading tackler for the Cowboys, so expect him to be heavily involved in most plays.
Key Stat: 46-5. Under Mike Gundy, the Cowboys are 46-5 when they win the turnover battle. Going back over the last six season, OSU was won 33 of the last 34 games when winning the turnover battle.