Games between Oklahoma State and Baylor have typically been high-scoring affairs. Since 2010, at least one side has posted over 40 points, with Baylor taking the last two contests, beating OSU at its own game of up-tempo offense.
Before 2012, the Cowboys typically put the hammer down on Baylor, but the Bears’ offense has since evolved into one of the fastest in the country. However, with the recent exodus from Baylor including coach Art Briles, the Bears may have slowed down a step this season, something OSU defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer is hoping to exploit on Saturday:
“It’s what we’ve been seeing [the last few years],” Spencer said.
“The tempo — maybe they haven’t gone as fast as they’ve gone before — but that’s what I’m expecting. A lot of similarities, but I’ve had similarities every year and they’ve still racked up big points on us, so it’s not an answer, there is just a familiarity to it.”
Through its non-conference schedule, Baylor has averaged 8.9 plays per minute this season. Last season it was running about one extra play per minute. Moreover, the Bears were averaging 767 yards per game to just 557 yards this season. So it’s not just that the offense has played a step slower; it hasn’t had those consistently big plays that put Baylor on the map.
One trend that hasn’t helped the Bears’ cause is the collapse of a running game that averaged nearly 400 yards per game in non-conference play last year with a healthy stable of running backs and an elite offensive line. This year involved the dismissal of goal line specialist Devin Chafin, and 1,000-yard rusher Johnny Jefferson is dealing personal issues. The offensive line has also been a question mark with only one starter from 2016.
Spencer isn’t going to dismiss the potential that still lies in the BU backfield with Shock Linwood, Terence Williams, and JaMycal Hasty, who have combined for 682 yards.
“What they do is you have to show them what you’re doing pre-snap, so they have an answer,” Spencer said. “[The spread] clears up the read for the quarterback and you can’t go in and out with a lot of disguises because if they catch it, you’ll never get there to stop the run, or double-up someone on the pass – it’s a dilemma.”
With Seth Russell having two quick weapons, K.D. Cannon and Chris Platt — both mentioned by Spencer — it really is a dilemma for OSU. The Cowboys have given up 237 passing yards per game and five touchdowns this season, both in the bottom half of the Big 12.
That considered, Saturday could be a repeat of the Cowboys’ shootout with Pittsburgh (with some extra plays added for your viewing pleasure). Head coach Mike Gundy is hoping his powerful offense might fuel the defense to become stronger.
“I think our defense will play hard regardless,” Gundy said. “But I think anytime one side of the ball is playing well it’s always going to encourage the other side of the ball to play even tougher.”
It will need to against Baylor.
Oklahoma State will try to banish the memory of its 2015 loss to the Bears. Winning a shootout would achieve the goal, but a quality defensive performance offers the more likely path to success.