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Big 12 Championship Game Preview
For the first time in seven years, the Oklahoma Sooners won’t be the Big 12 champions. This year’s Big 12 Championship Game features the Oklahoma State Cowboys facing the Baylor Bears. The game is at noon on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington with the Cowboys favored by 5.5 points and the over/under set at 46.5 points.
The Bears are probably one of the best feel-good stories in college football this year. They were 2-7 last year in Dave Aranda’s first season but have completely turned things around, going 10-2 and finishing second in the Big 12. While there were some close games along the way, the Bears found a way to win those games and now have a chance to win their first conference title since winning a share of the Big 12 in 2014.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys are seeking their first conference championship since 2011. But there is something even bigger on the line for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys will have a strong argument for earning a spot in the College Football Playoff with a win.
A Break from Tradition
Under Mike Gundy, the Cowboys have typically had a high-powered offense and a porous defense. But it’s been the opposite for Oklahoma State in 2021, as the Cowboys have a top-10 scoring defense, yielding just 16.4 points per game. Last week’s win over Oklahoma was the only time this season that an opponent scored more than 24 points against Oklahoma State.
Ironically, OSU’s biggest problem this season has been an offense that’s failed to score more than 24 points in half of its games. Quarterback Spencer Sanders has done more damage with his legs than his arm this season, giving the Cowboys a strong rushing attack along with running back Jaylen Warren, who has over 1,100 rushing yards this year. But Sanders has been inconsistent as a passer, barely completing 60% of his passes and throwing two interceptions last week in the biggest game of the season.
The biggest question heading into this game is whether or not Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon will play. Bohanon missed last week’s win over Texas Tech after getting hurt the previous week. The good news is that the Bears have a potent rushing attack, although they would prefer not to rely on freshman Blake Shapen in a conference championship game.
The other good news for the Bears is that their defense is also one of the best in the Big 12. Baylor has held half of its opponents to 20 points or less this season, giving up an average of just 19.7 points per game. The Bears excel in creating takeaways, amassing 20 during the regular season, including three in their first meeting with Oklahoma State.
Quarterback of Mystery
The uncertainty with Bohanon surely throws a wrench into this game. Of course, Shapen held his last week while OSU’s Sanders isn’t the most reliable quarterback either. That gives both teams a little uncertainty at quarterback heading into the most important game of the season, with the play of each quarterback likely to be the X-factor in a game between two strong defensive teams.
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