With the non-conference portion of their schedule behind them, the 2-1 Oklahoma State Cowboys are taking to the road this weekend for not only their first conference game of the season, but also their first game away from Stillwater. Waiting for them in Waco, Texas is the top ranked team in the Big 12. Baylor finished 3-0 in non-conference play (although you could argue their first three games were a step down in competition compared to O-State) and currently sits #16 in the AP Poll and #15 in the Coaches.
The Bears and Cowboys are tied for fourth in the Big 12 Conference in scoring with an average of 44.3 points per game. Through the first three weeks of the season Baylor’s offense has been balanced, averaging 275.3 passing yards and 282 rushing yards per game. Senior quarterback Seth Russel is completing 59% of his passes and has a 3/1 touchdown to interception ratio per game. Russell has passed for 761 yards with KD Cannon serving as his top target. Canon has a 24 receptions for 352 yards and 4 touchdowns on the season, all team highs.
Baylor’s rushing attack is a three-headed monster between JaMycal Hasty, Terrence Williams, and Shock Linwood. The trio has combined for 682 yards, 5 touchdowns, and combined average of 6.43 yards per carry. Hasty is pacing the team on the ground with an average of 8.5 yards per carry. The Bears currently have the nation’s 9th ranked rushing offense.
Defensively, the bears are 3rd nationally with just 10 points allowed per game. Opposing quarterbacks are only completing 34% of their passes against Baylor, with an average of 97 yards per game. Baylor has allowed just one passing touchdown this season and has nabbed three interceptions. A little bit more susceptible to the run, the Bears are allowing opponents an average of 3.8 yards per carry and 152 rushing yards per game this season.
Safety Patrick Levels is leading the squad with 22 total tackles (4 for loss) this season. Linebacker Aiavion Edwards is just behind with 21 tackles. Linebacker Taylor Young has a team-high 5 tackles for loss and safety Orion Stewart leads the way with two interceptions. Six different Baylor defenders have contributed to the team’s five total sacks this season.
Quietly Baylor has had possibly the most impressive debut to the 2016 season of any team in the conference. Considering the mess of an off-season that was experienced in Waco, football appears to be the healing comfort the school has needed. This, combined with the fact the Bears are extremely talented, won’t make things easy for OSU in their first road test of the season. The Cowboys are coming off one of the more impressive wins for the Big 12 (45-38 over Pitt) but are in store for their most daunting defensive challenge yet.