Battle for the Big 12 Championship odds: Oklahoma vs. Baylor
When the college football season began, had anyone said that the Oklahoma Sooner would be playing for the Big 12 title, few (if any) would have argued. But if someone had tried to proclaim the Baylor Bears as serious conference title contenders, the suggestion would have been met with laughter—and lots of it.
Yes, Baylor’s Big 12 Championship odds were not bad to start the season (+1400 on August 12; fourth best in the conference). But with Oklahoma being Oklahoma and considering Texas ‘was back,’ Baylor (or anyone not named Oklahoma or Texas) was taken seriously as contenders.
However, Baylor didn’t just luck into the title game because Texas was not actually ‘back.’ They earned the right by playing well on both sides of the ball and by making fewer mistakes than the other guy.
As for the Sooners, when Lincoln Riley lucked into Jalen Hurts, there was little doubt about what their Big 12 Championships odds would be this season. But there is more than just a conference title on the line this weekend.
The winner will have an excellent shot at making the College Football Playoffs.
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Oklahoma vs. Baylor Over/Under: If You Like Touchdowns
If there is one thing that can always be counted on in a Big 12 game, it is that points will be scored. The last time these two teams met, they combined for 65 points. That was with Oklahoma struggling in the first half.
Assuming the Sooners can get on track earlier offensively and Baylor doesn’t struggle, there is a chance the over/under (64.5 points) could be covered by half time. If either team starts to play defense, though, there could be trouble (but probably not).
Defense is rarely the name of the game in the Big 12, but to a degree, it is for the Baylor Bears. They have one of the better ones in the Big 12 (third) and nation (39th; 352.8 yards/game allowed). That defense forced three turnovers last time they faced the Sooners, two of which the Bears turned into touchdowns and a 31-10 halftime lead.
But then it was the Oklahoma defenses that turned up in the second half. After watching the Baylor offense score on four consecutive drives in the first half, the Sooners defense held the Bears to around 100 yards of offense and a field goal in the second.
Oklahoma often gets blasted for having a weak defense, but this year’s unit is pretty good—at least at limiting the yards gained (26th at 331.6 yards/game allowed). However, they are not as good at keeping opponents off the scoreboard (52nd in points allowed per game; 24.7).
Looking at the stats from this season, it appears as if it should be easy to call this one. Baylor is a good football team, but the Sooners are better in almost every way. The underdog Bears have a lot of good players, but they lack star power. Oklahoma, the favorite, has a Heisman candidate (Jalen Hurts) and at least one future first-round pick (wide receiver CeeDee Lamb).
If that is the case, then how come Baylor almost won last time?
Oklahoma Odds to Take Down Baylor in the Big 12 Championship Game
They almost won last time because they capitalized on most of Oklahoma’s mistakes. Baylor can force more mistakes by concentrating on slowing down one guy—Jalen Hurts. While it is great to have a guy like him, too much of the offense revolves around Hurts. Along with being the quarterback, he is also the team’s leading rusher.
Frustrate Hurts, slow him down, and the chances of stealing a win and completing the upset go up exponentially.
If they frustrate Hurts and maybe even force a mistake or two, there is a good chance the Sooners will lend a helping and in their own demise. Oklahoma was one of the most penalized teams in the country this year (129th in penalty yards/game).
It is not unheard of for teams to commit more penalties when they are frustrated.
Slowing down Hurts will not do the Bears any good if they can’t move the ball on the Oklahoma defense. To that end, the Bears are going to need everyone to show up and bring their ‘A.’ When that happens, the Bears are a formidable team. When it doesn’t, you have games that look like the second half of the last game against the Sooners.
Baylor got in a good warm-up game last week against Kansas (over 500 yards of offense and six turnovers on defense en route to a 61-6 win). If they can keep that momentum going, albeit, against a much better Oklahoma team, the Big 12 Championship will be a ton of fun to watch.