It’s time to run back arguably the wildest comeback of the 2019 season. No. 7 Baylor will take on No. 6 Oklahoma for the Big 12 Conference Championship on Saturday in Arlington, Texas, just weeks after the Sooners came back from a 25-point deficit.
Now, the Bears are looking for revenge at the most opportune time. Both teams are in the thick of theCollege FootballPlayoff race. While they both sit behind No. 5Utah, which will play its conference championship game on Friday night, the winner of Saturday’s game could possibly jump the Utes. Whether that matters or not may depend on how the SEC Championship Game unfolds. But, those are scenarios best left to discuss for after the weekend.
So who wins this rematch in the Lone Star State? Let’s take a closer look at the storylines heading into the game and make some picks both straight up and against the spread.
Oklahoma: The narrative that Oklahoma can’t be helped by its defense has been outdated for a minute. Alex Grinch’s takeover of the defense has produced noticeably improved results. It hasn’t always been perfect (see: 48-41 loss toKansas State) but it has bailed out the Sooners more often than not. In fact, Oklahoma has the top defense in the Big 12 in yards allowed per game and has allowed nearly 10 fewer points per game from last year. Oklahoma played a perfect second half of defense against Baylor the first go around, can it put together a better overall effort this time?
Baylor: To be frank, Baylor has been lucky this year. Six games have been decided by one possession and the Bears are 5-1 in such games. And in that one loss, you could surmise that Baylor was unlucky. Even one more second-half stop against Oklahoma probably would have resulted in a win. That’s not to say Baylor hasn’t earned the right to be in this position — it has — but it also provides some context for what can be the difference between 11-1 and, say, 8-4. The point being, Baylor’s lived a charmed life because it’s been able to finish close games. Will Baylor’s defense, No. 13 in the country in points allowed per game, be able to slow down Oklahoma’s offense for a second time? Even though the Sooners came out on top in the first meeting, it needed to run 95 plays to win at about 5.5 yards per play. Absolutely nothing was given up easily.
Date: Saturday, Dec. 7 | Time: Noon ET
Location: AT&T Stadium — Arlington, Texas
TV: ABC | Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Game prediction, picks
I’ll go ahead and put myself on the record. I’m going with Baylor straight up. You might want to #FadeBen and go a different route for the result, but at the very least, the Bears should be able to cover the 8.5 points Vegas has on the Sooners. The defense is just too good and I don’t think the fast track in Arlington gives Oklahoma quarterbackJalen Hurtsthat much more of an advantage. He’s a powerful runner, but if Baylor can get to him early, he’s neutralized. Pick: Baylor ( 8.5)
Who wins Baylor vs. Oklahoma? And what critical x-factor makes one side of the spread a must-back?Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the spread you should jump on Saturday, all from the accomplished Big 12 expert who is hitting nearly 80 percent of his picks on these teams, and find out.