It all comes down to this in the Big 12: the No. 7 Baylor Bears (11-1) will face the No. 6 ranked Oklahoma Sooners (11-1) in the Big-12 Championship game Saturday on neutral ground at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
When these two teams met last in November, Baylor ran up a 25-point lead, only to see the Sooners storm back in the second half to defeat them, 34-31. Oklahoma scored 24 second half points while also shutting the Bears out in the third and fourth quarters.
So which team will have the edge in this one? Here’s our preview, followed by game trends and our predictions.
Baylor coach Matt Rhule had this to say about the teams’ first meeting, after Baylor blew a 25-point lead in the eventual loss to the Sooners: “That game can do nothing but help us as long as we make sure that we learn from it, which I think we have.” What they’ve learned and whether they can apply that knowledge remains to be seen, however. Baylor has seen six of their games this season decided by just one possession, and they have managed to come out 5-1 in those games.
Baylor will be led by junior quarterback Charlie Brewer, who has 2,935 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions on the season. Brewer is leading an offense that’s putting up 36.2 points a game, but much will rest on their defense, which is the best in the Big-12, and how well they stop Oklahoma’s multi-faceted attack. Baylor is surrendering 18.4 points a game, and they will face the only team to have beaten them again on Saturday.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts has had a great season, throwing for 3,347 yards and 31 touchdowns to go with just six interceptions. Hurts has been a dual-threat all year, and he will likely be looking to give NFL scouts something to see in what could be his final game as a Sooner. Hurts already has over 1,200 yards rushing and a whopping 18 touchdowns, and if he gets going on the ground, it could be a long day for Baylor.
Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley isn’t dwelling on the fact that Oklahoma has already defeated Baylor once this year: “That was a great night, but that was multiple weeks ago. It was two really good football teams going at it,” Riley said. “They played better than we did in the first half, we played better than they did in the second half … This one’s different. Championship games are different. Playing not at home, not on the road … The stakes are different, the setting’s different, the teams are at different points.”
Riley and company will also have to rely on their defense, which is ranked third in the Big-12. The Bears are allowing 24.7 points a game, and they will have to buckle down in this one if they want a shot at an upset.
Trends, Preview, & Predictions:
Note: All figures, odds and trends surrounding this game are courtesy of Odds Shark.
Spread: Baylor +9
Over/Under: 65 points
Odds Shark currently have the Sooners winning the game by a projected score of 40-33, with the Bears covering the spread, and the point total going over.
Here are some relevant trends surrounding the game to consider:
- The Bears are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games.
- Baylor is 13-1 SU in their last 14 games.
- The Bears are 6-3 ATS in their last 9 games against Oklahoma.
- Baylor is 0-5 SU in their last 5 games against Oklahoma.
- Oklahoma is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games.
- Oklahoma is 11-1 SU in their last 12 games.
- The Sooners are 9-1 SU in their last 10 games this season.
- The Sooners are 15-1 SU in their last 16 games against an opponent in the Big 12 conference.
We’re with Odds Shark all the way here. Oklahoma should win, but Baylor should cover the spread in a back and forth shootout that should mirror their first game scoring-wise. Take Baylor with the points.
Final Prediction: Oklahoma 37, Baylor 30