Game Preview: Big 12 Football Championship
Host Jeremy Ganes and analysts Caleb Schweiger and Josh Portney take an inside look at each of the biggest conference championship games in college football this weekend.
The Oklahoma Sooners and Baylor Bears will travel to AT&T Stadium for the Big 12 Championship game Saturday. With major bowl game implications at stake, both teams will have plenty to play for.
The Sooners are tied with Baylor for the top spot in the Big 12 conference, as they sport an overall record of 11-1 and a 9-1 record in conference play. They are led by Heisman candidate quarterback Jalen Hurts and future first-round draft pick wide receiver CeeDee Lamb.
Head coach Lincoln Riley is at the helm, and he has quickly created a reputation of producing top quarterbacks, as the last two No. 1 overall picks in the NFL draft were Oklahoma products (Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray). Riley relies on his high-flying offense, as the Sooners have been held to under 30 points only once this season.
Baylor has been one of the biggest surprises this season. Due to the great success he has seen this year, head coach Matt Rhule is one of the leading candidates to win the Coach of the Year Award come season’s end. The Bears are 11-1 on the year with their only loss coming at the hands of Oklahoma.
In their head-to-head matchup against the Sooners earlier this season, Baylor jumped out to a commanding lead over one of the highest regarded teams in the country. At halftime, the Bears led by a score of 31-10 and appeared to have all but secured a statement win on national TV. However, that was not the case, as Jalen Hurts led a heroic come-from-behind effort for the Oklahoma offense, which scored 24 unanswered points.
Hurts also got some help from his defense, which, despite allowing 31 points in the first half, refused to give in, as it did not allow a single score in the second half. The Sooners pulled off the miraculous win, preserving any hope that they had of getting into the College Football Playoff.
Almost a month ago, Baylor and Oklahoma played one of the most exciting games of the season. It was a game that saw the largest come-from-behind win in school history for the Sooners, while the Bears suffered an excruciating, heartbreaking loss. One could guess that Baylor has learned from the mistakes that it made in the second half and will stress the importance competing at the highest level for a full 60 minutes. That may be the case, but it will not matter this time around.
The main reason for Baylor’s dominating performance in the first half of their early November contest was the sloppy play of Jalen Hurts. Hurts is an experienced quarterback who has played in high leverage games all throughout his college career, dating back to his time at Alabama. The Heisman hopeful will fine-tune his craft and avoid the costly turnovers that nearly cost the Sooners in their only head-to-head matchup against Baylor prior to this Saturday’s game. Expect a big game from Hurts and Riley’s offense, as the Sooners inch closer to a third-straight appearence in the College Football Playoff.
Prediction: Oklahoma 31, Baylor 24
Ben Serfass is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.