Baylor vs. Oklahoma State Big 12 Championship Game Picks and Odds Analysis

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Gerry Bohanon #11 of the Baylor Bears. Tom Pennington/Getty Images/AFP

Odds for Saturday’s game between Baylor and Oklahoma State have been released by top Sportsbooks. This game will not only be played for the Big 12 Championship, but the game has playoff implications as well because a one-loss Big-12 team has a legitimate chance of making the College Football Playoffs.

Oklahoma State, to be clear, only has one loss, while Baylor has two, but is only ranked one spot behind the Cowboys at number eight. For reasons that I will explain, you should play the total as your NCAAF pick for this game.

Baylor Bears vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Saturday, December 4, 2021 – 12:00 PM EST at AT&T Stadium

The First Meeting 

The Big 12 Championship between Baylor and Oklahoma State is a rematch of a Week 5 meeting that took place on October 2 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Oklahoma State was a four-point favorite in that game and the over/under was 47. The Pokes won 24-14 and the game stayed "under." It is impressive that they allowed 14 points considering the number of turnovers that their offense committed: quarterback Spencer Sanders had three interceptions.

These turnovers gave Baylor more opportunities and great opportunities. For example, Sanders’ first interception placed Baylor at Oklahoma State’s 36 yard-line. But instead of progressing into closer field goal range, the Bears moved back eight yards.

Defensively, Oklahoma State found success by playing its safeties aggressively, close to the line of scrimmage. The Pokes knew that the Bears were a run-first team and they strategized accordingly. They wanted Baylor starting quarterback Gerry Bohanon to be the one to beat them. But as we saw in Bedlam, Oklahoma State will follow a strategy aggressively and this aggressiveness will lead to big plays for the opposing offense.

Last Saturday, for example, the Pokes were devoted to man coverage, which allowed Sooner quarterback Caleb Williams to accomplish a 56-yard rushing gain that put his team dangerously close to the end zone on his team’s final drive.

Against Baylor, the Cowboys allowed Bohanon to amass nearly half of his passing yards on two completions. At the end of the day, though, Oklahoma State’s defense can live with allowing a couple of big plays when it still achieves its aims. It was a success for the Cowboy defense, to allow 14 points from the Bears, and, in the process, to limit Baylor to 3.7 YPC on 29 rushing attempts.

Third- and fourth-down efficiency was key in that game with Oklahoma State converting eight of its 19 third-down attempts and both of its fourth-down attempts. Running the ball was a consistent source of offense for the Cowboys, which amassed 219 rushing yards on 59 attempts. While both teams ran for the same YPC average, the Bear rush offense -- like its pass attack -- was too dependent on the sporadic big play, while Oklahoma State’s consistency running the ball allowed it to sustain drives and score more points.

What Changed: Pertaining to Baylor’s Offense

Of course, tons of tiny things change throughout the course of a season. Players improve a bit upon certain things and so forth.  But for Oklahoma State, nothing significant has changed and this is a great thing for the defense. As measured by opposing rushing yards per game, the Cowboys’ run defense ranks fifth nationally.

Bedlam -- the first half specifically, generated an exception to Oklahoma State’s run defense dominance, to be sure. But this exception required a strong passing threat from the Sooners. OU’s wide receivers were winning battles with Cowboy defensive backs downfield, which did not allow the Cowboy defense to zero in on the also dangerous Sooner ground game. Jim Knowles, Oklahoma State’s defensive coordinator, made second-half adjustments, though, and his defense shut out the Sooners.

Rest assured for your Sports Betting that Baylor does not have the passing impetus to punish a Cowboy defense for zeroing in on its ground game. Not only is Gerry Bohanon frequently a problematic passer who has thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns in Baylor’s past five games, but he is suffering a hamstring injury, which caused him to miss his team’s last game, a near-loss, against Texas Tech. Bohanon might not play in Saturday’s game and, if he does, his hamstring might not permit him to do much scrambling.

The Change In Baylor’s Defense

Baylor’s run defense has improved since its loss to Oklahoma State. Statistically, the Bears have significantly reduced the average rush yards per game that opponents are accruing. Their success is apparent against multiple recent running backs. Oklahoma’s Kennedy Brooks, for example, mustered 55 rushing yards on 3.9 YPC against Baylor, although he averages six YPC and has amassed 1,111 rushing yards this season.

Given performances like this one against Brooks, the Bears rank 18th nationally in limiting opposing rush yards per game. They’ve thus improved well over 10 spots in this statistical ranking. Since Oklahoma State, like Baylor, is a run-first team -- both teams rank top-25 nationally in rushing play percentage -- the Bears’ improved run defense is a critical factor to note.

The Verdict 

Both run-first teams meet strong run defenses that will take away what the opposing offense does best. As each offense will have to rely primarily on its weakest aspect, passing, it will struggle to score.

For the above reasons, expect another "under" between these two teams for your NCAAF Picks.

NCAAF Pick: Under 46.5 at -110 with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.