AP Sports Writer
STILLWATER, Okla. — Baylor stands in the way of perhaps the biggest Bedlam matchup ever.
Rivals Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will face off next week in a matchup that could vault the winner into the College Football Playoff. For the stakes to be that high, No. 4 Oklahoma State (10-0, 7-0 Big 12, No. 6 CFP) will need to do its part and defeat a Baylor team that is trying to bounce back from last week’s 44-34 loss to Oklahoma.
Baylor has Oklahoma State’s undivided attention. The 10th-ranked Bears (8-1, 5-1, No. 10 CFP) lead the nation in points and yards per game, and their defense has plenty of talent.
“It’s another chance for us to play well and show people around the country what we’re really about,” Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph said. “We’re playing a great team in Baylor. It’s a high-powered offense and a great defense, so it will be an awesome challenge. It’s something we’ve been looking forward to.”
The Cowboys are the league’s only unbeaten team, and they can clinch a share of the conference title Saturday. Baylor also still has a chance to win the conference.
“The way I can mathematically figure it, I think we’re still very much alive,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “It’s very hard to go undefeated in this league. We know that, and everyone else in the league knows it.”
Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham said the Bears have something to prove. And a win against an unbeaten team on the road this late in the year would look awfully good on the Bears’ resume.
“I think we always have a chip on our shoulder,” he said. “That’s how it is here at Baylor. But we’re going to approach this week like we do every week. OSU is a great football team and a great program, and we know they’ll have a live crowd there in Stillwater.”
Here are some things to watch on Saturday:
HANDLING OGBAH: Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah ranks third nationally with 11 sacks. He has 15.5 tackles for loss and 17 quarterback hurries. Left tackle Spencer Drango and his teammates will try to keep Ogbah away from Stidham, who is recovering from a back injury.
“He’s very good,” said Drango, a first-team All-American last season. “He leads the conference in sacks, so it’ll be a good challenge. I think he’ll switch sides a little bit. But he’s tall and disruptive in the backfield, so it’ll be a good challenge for us.”
COWBOYS QBs: Oklahoma State plays two very different quarterbacks. Rudolph, the starter, is a 6-foot-4 sophomore pocket passer who has thrown for more than 3,000 yards this season. J.W. Walsh is a dual threat quarterback who plays mostly in short yardage and red zone situations. He has 10 rushing and 10 passing touchdowns.
BAYLOR BALANCE?: Baylor statistically has one of the most balanced offenses in college football, but that hasn’t been the case the past few games. After rushing for at least 276 yards in each of their first seven games, the Bears were held to 103 yards against Kansas State and 159 against Oklahoma. They’ll need to do better to help slow Ogbah.
COLEMAN COMEBACK: Baylor star receiver Corey Coleman leads the nation in yards receiving per game and his 20 touchdown grabs, but Oklahoma held him to three catches for 51 yards last week. He also failed to reach the end zone for the first time this season.
FRESHMAN JITTERS?: Stidham was one of the nation’s top recruits coming out of high school, but Ogbah still sees a young player on film.
“You can tell he’s a true freshman,” Ogbah said. “You can see in his eyes, he gets nervous, too. I know he doesn’t want to run, he’d rather sit in the pocket and throw the ball.”