Oklahoma State likely won’t take winless Baylor for granted.
A quick glance at the records, rankings and point spread would indicate the Cowboys should win Saturday’s game easily. No. 14 Oklahoma State (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) is still chasing championships while Baylor is trying to simply give itself a chance for a winning season in the fallout from scandal.
There are a few reasons the Bears should have Oklahoma State’s full attention.
For one, Baylor has beaten the Cowboys three straight years. For all Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph has accomplished, he hasn’t beaten the Bears.
“This is kind of one I’ve had circled on the schedule for a while now,” Rudolph said. “So I’m preparing hard, getting ready to go and lead my team and play my butt off.”
Second, Baylor pushed Oklahoma before falling 49-41 last month , and the Bears were within a touchdown in the fourth quarter at Kansas State the next week before losing 33-20 .
“They are definitely a good team,” Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill said. “Coming back when they played OU, they had a good game. Kansas State was a good game. They are a good team.”
The Cowboys also want to remain in contention for a College Football Playoff spot and the Big 12 title. Oklahoma State already had a costly home loss to TCU and can’t afford to slip again.
“We don’t have a lot of margin for error right now,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said.
The Cowboys have the No. 2 offense in the nation, and even though they will face one of the nation’s worst defenses, they want to come out sharp following their bye week.
“I think we’ve got enough leadership and guys who will be catalysts for this team and bring energy and enthusiasm,” Rudolph said. “It’ll seem like we haven’t played a game in a while come Saturday, but that doesn’t matter after you get out there and snap that first play and get things rolling.”
Here are some things to watch when the Cowboys host the Bears:
LOVE FOR LOVETT
Baylor coach Matt Rhule said true freshman John Lovett will start at running back Saturday, even with JaMycal Hasty and Terence Williams back from injuries. Lovett ran for 95 yards against Kansas State, including an 74-yard burst for a score, the longest touchdown run for a freshman in school history. Rhule expects Hasty (MCL sprain) and Williams (shoulder) to be able to play and said he’ll go with the hot hand once the game settles in.
For all that is said about Oklahoma State’s passing game, Hill is the No. 2 rusher in the Big 12, and he is just behind receiver James Washington for the team lead in yards from scrimmage.
“What’s not talked about enough is their run game, which is fantastic,” Rhule said. “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 real challenge for our defense.”
JUST FOR KICKS
Drew Galitz was injured on the opening kickoff against Kansas State. Rhule said Connor Martin will be ready to step in, with Peter Webster as the backup. Rhule said he’s gotten calls from potential kickers, but he prefers that Martin does the job, even though he’ll have multiple duties.
“I think Connor can do a good job,” Rhule said. “It’s just more the strain that puts on his leg of kicking off, punting, and kicking field goals. That’s hard.”
Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington needs one receiving touchdown to move alone into third place in school history in that category. He is tied with Hart Lee Dykes with 31 touchdowns and trails Rashaun Woods (42) and Justin Blackmon (40).
Rudolph has passed for at least 300 yards in six consecutive games, including all five games this season. Baylor allows 237.6 yards passing per game.