Oklahoma Sooners at Baylor Bears, Saturday Nov.14, 8 p.m. ET
The Big 12 either did the coolest or stupidest thing ever when setting up their schedules this year. There are only a small handful of good teams in the conference, and all of them play each other in the last month of the season. It will make it perhaps the most interesting conference down the stretch, but there is a good chance they will all cannibalize each other and, for the second year in a row, the conference could be left outside of the playoff picture.
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This isn't the first of the huge games for the conference - that honor goes to Oklahoma State and their huge win over TCU last week. This one certainly doesn't lack for drama, though. Baylor is unbeaten, but many are skeptical of what they really are because they have faced a very weak schedule. Oklahoma has an incomprehensible loss to Texas. They can overcome it - it happened early enough that they could still make the playoff - but they have no margin for error. This is absolutely an elimination game for the Sooners and could very likely be one for Baylor, too.
Oklahoma at Baylor Betting Storylines
You can't talk about this game without talking about Baylor's quarterback situation. It was supposed to be Seth Russell at the helm. He was off to a great start and was in the Heisman hunt. Football is a brutal game, though, and Russell was lost for the year. He was replaced with a true freshman. That's normally not a good thing, but Jarrett Stidham is not your normal true freshman. Highly recruited out of high school, Stidham looked like a superstar in his first start last week against Kansas State. He completed 23 of 33 passes for 419 yards and four touchdowns, and he didn't turn the ball over. Many starters in the country will go through their entire careers without a game like that. Of course, Oklahoma is a dramatically better team than Kansas State is, but Stidham isn't the fish out of water that you might assume a true freshman with one career start will be. He has a world-class arm, and Baylor's coaching staff is certainly aggressive enough to find ways to capitalize on that.
When Texas shocked the Sooners, they did it almost entirely on the ground. Their offense on that day was comically unbalanced - the Longhorns passed for just 55 yards and rushed for 313. While Baylor is obviously a much better passing team, they are also more than capable of punishing teams on the ground. Shock Linwood has well over 1,000 yards on the season already, and the team has rushed for 2,471 yards and 24 touchdowns on the season. That's an average of more than 300 yards and three touchdowns, and they have done it by averaging an impressive 6.6 yards per carry. They aren't quite as dynamic with Stidham under center because Russell is much more mobile, but they are a strong running team nonetheless, and they are going to try to wear the Sooners down again. It's no guarantee that it will work, though. Despite the Texas game, Oklahoma ranks just 50th in yards allowed per game with 148. That Texas game was a very bad day, but it isn't necessarily a trend.
Oklahoma at Baylor Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Baylor favored by 4.5 points. That has since fallen to 2.5 points. About 60 percent of all bets have been on the Sooners, so line movement is consistent with the action - though the fact it moved right through the key number of three would suggest that sharp money was involved. The total is predictably high at 77.
The Sooners are 4-0 ATS in their last four games, but are a bleak 0-4 ATS in their last four against the Bears. The road team is 12-3 ATS in the last 15 editions of this rivalry. Despite their potent offense, the Bears have gone "under" the total in three of their last four games.
NCAA Football Expert Picks Against the Spread: Oklahoma at Baylor Predictions
The game can still be found at a spread of three points in some spots at the time I write this. At that price I would jump all over Oklahoma. I trust their offense more in this one - Stidham is very impressive, but he's still a true freshman in his second start. Baylor has played a stunningly easy schedule and hasn't had to deal with any in-game adversity. Oklahoma hasn't played an elite schedule, either, but it has certainly been tougher. Oklahoma is an attractive underdog at 2.5 or less and very attractive at any price better than that.
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