The title game matchup between the No. 9 Baylor Bears (10-2) and the No. 5 Oklahoma State Cowboys (11-1) is not your typical Big 12 matchup. A league known for high octane offenses will have a championship game between two programs that are outstanding defensive teams that like to play grind-it-out football.
Oklahoma State ranks fifth nationally in scoring defense while Baylor ranks 17th. Neither played great in their most recent games, but you can expect this to be a physical football game.
Here are our staff predictions.
BRYAN DRISKELL, PUBLISHER
Prediction: Baylor 23, Oklahoma State 16
There are two Power 5 championship games that are rematches, and I'm picking the loser to win both. It's not easy beating a good team twice, and that's what Oklahoma State has to do. The Cowboys dominated the first matchup, winning 24-14 in a game that could have been more convincing had they not turned it over three times.
Outside of a 55-yard touchdown run by Abram Smith the Bears couldn't move the ball in the opener. Obviously they'll need to perform better in this matchup, but the key won't necessarily be Smith continuing his great season. If Baylor is going to pull off this upset and get redemption it will need quarterback Gerry Bohanon to be healthy and to make plays with his arm.
Oklahoma State's offense has picked it up a big down the stretch. After failing to score more than 32 yards in any of its first seven games the Cowboys have averaged 40.4 points in their last five games. Baylor will need to pressure and contain Cowboy quarterback Spencer Sanders. If it can do that and force turnovers I can see Baylor coming out on top.
VINCE DEDARIO, FOOTBALL ANALYST
Prediction: Baylor 24, Oklahoma State 21
This game has a ton of intrigue whether you are an Irish fan or not. Can Oklahoma State finish off the improbable rise to the CFP by beating Baylor for the second time this season? Or can the Bears erase the 7 point loss from their memories and play spoiler? I really like this Baylor team and I think they may be more complete than the Oklahoma State team using the eye test. Call me crazy but I am taking Baylor here in the title game.
ANDREW MCDONOUGH, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Oklahoma State 27, Baylor 20
Can Oklahoma State rack up another top-ten win and crash the College Football Playoff? The Cowboys checked in at #5 in the rankings and with a win and Alabama loss are projected to make the field. They'll need to get by a tough Baylor team for the second time this season. Baylor comes into the game with the top rushing offense in the Big 12, while Oklahoma State has the top rushing defense. I expect the Cowboys to make one more stop and position themselves for the first playoff berth in program history.
SHAUN DAVIS, ESPN CHICAGO
Prediction: Oklahoma State 27, Baylor 17
Oklahoma State is more than likely one win away from a berth in the college football playoff. The Cowboys are coming off a thrilling win over archrival Oklahoma that ended a six-game losing streak against the Sooners. Baylor is looking to avenge an earlier 24-14 loss at Stillwater, where their rushing attack was held to a season low 3.7 yards per carry. The Bears normally put 227.4 yards per game on the ground led by quarterback Gerry Bohannon, who is still listed as questionable for the Big 12 Championship game.
Dave Aranda’s defense will have to shut down the Cowboys rushing attack and create the same number of turnovers from the first meeting. Jaylen Warren was a battering ram for the Cowboys against the Sooners rushing for 125 yards on 36 carries and 2 touchdowns. Look for this contest to be like a heavyweight boxing match where both teams are cautious, but it won’t last long. The difference could very well be the Oklahoma State defense staying true to form as they sport three defenders with at least 6 sacks and a third down defense holding teams to 27% success. The first score will open up a flood of scoring and the fourth quarter should be fantastic drama.
RYAN ROBERTS, RISENDRAFT
Prediction: Baylor 28, Oklahoma State 24
Oklahoma State and Baylor are playing extremely well on the defensive side of the football - but both have their inconsistencies offensively. The Baylor rushing attack is the key difference.
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