2021 Big 12 Championship - Oklahoma State v Baylor
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When No. 16 Baylor welcomes No. 9 Oklahoma State  to Waco, Texas, on Saturday, early control of the race to earn a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game will be at stake. The Cowboys are opening Big 12 play after an off week, but early returns have been impressive with comfortable victories over Central Michigan, Arizona State and UAPB in the nonconference slate to rise up the polls. 

Baylor has a double-overtime loss to BYU, but the Bears are far more battle tested after handing Iowa State its first home conference loss since Oct. 26, 2019. Bears quarterback Blake Shapen threw for 238 yards passing and three touchdowns in the win. 

Oklahoma State holds a 22-19 advantage all-time against the Bears, including two straight regular-season victories. However, Baylor edged Oklahoma State 21-16 in the Big 12 Championship Game last season. Despite Baylor's loss, the Bears and Cowboys are the two highest-ranked teams in the conference and among the favorites to win the Big 12. Picking up a tie-breaking win would be significant for both squads. 

Oklahoma State vs. Baylor: Need to know

Aerial attack: Oklahoma State has gotten back to its roots through the first three games as quarterback Spencer Sanders has reignited an aggressive passing offense. Sanders has completed 65% of his passes for 916 yards and 10 touchdowns in his first four games. Braydon Johnson, Brennan Presley, John Paul Richardson and Bryson Green have all cleared 100 yards receiving. It's a nice change after the Cowboys relied on the rush game so heavily a season ago. 

Defense stepping up for Baylor: Despite playing multiple quality opponents, Baylor's defense has quickly made a name for itself. The Bears are holding opponents to 4.59 yards per play, good enough for No. 20 nationally, and 16.8 points per game. Linebacker Bryson Jackson earned co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week after sacking Iowa State quarterback Hunter Dekkers twice in a win last week. Despite losing key production, Baylor's defense has stepped up to the task. 

Sanders' struggles vs. Aranda: Sanders has grown over his career in Stillwater and manages games better than ever. However, Baylor coach Dave Aranda has baited Sanders into countless mistakes. Over the past three years, Sanders has thrown 21 total interceptions. Amazingly, nine have come against Aranda-coached defenses. He has thrown multiple interceptions in just two of his 22 games against non-Baylor squads, but has at least two picks in all three career games against Baylor. Sanders will have to play under control for Oklahoma State to beat Baylor. 

How to watch Oklahoma State vs. Baylor live

Date: Saturday, Oct. 1 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: McLane Stadium -- Waco, Texas
TV: Fox | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)

Oklahoma State vs. Baylor prediction, picks

Featured Game | Baylor Bears vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Oklahoma State has won the last two regular-season matchups between these two teams, but the Cowboys have not been tested in 2022 since losing defensive coordinator Jim Knowles to Ohio State. The Bears have maintained their impressive defensive performance and showed real upside in the passing game in a win over Iowa State. Home field advantage carries the day. Prediction: Baylor -2.5

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