Oklahoma State looks to finish strong vs. Baylor
After a 4-0 start that included wins over Iowa State and West Virginia, Oklahoma State rose to No. 6 in the national rankings and looked like the Big 12’s best bet to make the College Football Playoff.
But the Cowboys (6-3, 5-3 Big 12) have dropped three of their last five games heading into Saturday night’s regular-season finale at Baylor (2-6, 2-6) and can finish no higher than third in the conference after last week’s 29-22 loss at TCU.
The loss to the Horned Frogs sewed up a matchup between first-place Iowa State (8-2, 8-1) and second-place Oklahoma (7-2, 6-2) in the Big 12 Championship game on Dec. 19. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have dropped seven places to 22nd in the latest CFP ratings released on Tuesday night and travel to Waco, Texas, for a makeup game of an Oct. 17 contest that had to be postponed after the Bears were unable to meet Big 12 roster requirements because of positive COVID-19 cases on the team’s roster.
The best Oklahoma State can finish in the Big 12 now is third with a win over the Bears and if Texas (6-3, 5-3), which owns the head-to-head tiebreaker by virtue of a 41-34 overtime victory over the Cowboys on Halloween, falls to last-place Kansas (0-9, 0-8).
However, a frustrated Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy made it clear during the league’s coaches teleconference on Monday that a third-place finish wasn’t high on his list of priorities.
“I’m not disappointed with anybody in this organization,” Gundy said. “I’m disappointed that — every year our goal is to win a Big 12 Championship. If you win a Big 12 Championship, you win first place. If you get second or 10th, you get the last place. There are no second-place medals.”
Oklahoma State lost at TCU despite jumping out to a 13-0 lead and forcing a season-high five turnovers. However, the Cowboys, playing without injured All-America running back Chuba Hubbard, managed to score off only one of the turnovers, a 40-yard fumble return by defensive end Brock Martin, and the Horned Frogs and quarterback Max Duggan took advantage of an injury-plagued OSU secondary to rally and pull out the victory.
“It’s a pretty rare game when you score on defense and you get that many turnovers to not be able to find a way to win, but we just couldn’t muster up much offensively,” Gundy said. “We couldn’t get much stability, we did hit on a couple of big plays, but we just couldn’t muster up enough with where we’re at right now to keep rolling.”
Baylor comes in off a 27-14 loss at Oklahoma, holding the Sooners to just 269 total yards including 76 rushing yards on 31 carries. Quarterback Charlie Brewer completed 30 of 56 passes for 263 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for another TD. He ranks second in rushing for the season for the Bears with 170 yards.
Since COVID-19 prevented Baylor from playing a nonconference game with Houston, the Bears could still schedule another contest for Dec. 19. But head coach Dave Aranda told the Waco Tribune his team is zeroed in on its final Big 12 contest of the season with the Cowboys.
“We’re not looking that way right now,” Aranda said. “All eyes are on this Saturday and the game versus Oklahoma State. All of our focus is really on that.”
–Field Level Media