ARLINGTON, Texas – Baylor had a chance to halt Oklahoma's run of conference dominance and continue its unlikely path to the College Football Playoff three weeks ago until the Sooners broke their hearts with a historic comeback. The eighth-ranked Bears hope to exact a measure of revenge and end No. 6 Oklahoma's bid to make a fourth CFP appearance in five years Saturday when the teams meet in the Big 12 Championship Game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
TV: Noon ET, ABC. LINE: Oklahoma -9
The race to the regular-season conference title appeared to be all but over less than 20 minutes into the teams' Nov. 16 meeting in Waco as Baylor raced out a 28-3 lead and took a 21-point advantage into intermission, but Oklahoma outscored the Bears 24-0 in the second half to stage the largest comeback victory in school history. "We started fast, but we didn't finish. As bad as that was, at the end we had a chance to win it. … Credit to Oklahoma, they made the plays in the second half to come back," Bears coach Matt Rhule told reporters after the 34-31 loss. Baylor, which is positioned seventh in the most recent CFP rankings, wrapped up its regular season last weekend with a 61-6 thumping of Kansas as the defense forced six turnovers. The CFP No. 6-ranked Sooners ended a stretch of four consecutive one-score games with a 34-16 win over archrival Oklahoma State last weekend and likely needs losses from Georgia and Utah as well as a convincing victory this weekend in order to make the playoff.
ABOUT BAYLOR (11-1, 8-1 Big 12)
Junior Charlie Brewer, who threw for two scores and ran for two more in the first meeting against the Sooners, is one of five quarterbacks nationally with at least 20 passing TDs and 10 rushing TDs and trails only Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts (202.26) among Big 12 signal-callers in passer rating (153.38). Senior wide receiver Denzel Mims (team-best marks of 61 catches for 945 yards) ranks second in the conference with 11 touchdown receptions and is the only FBS player with at least eight receiving touchdowns in each of the last three seasons. Defensive tackle James Lynch paces the Big 12 with 10.5 sacks and needs one more to break Shawn Oakman’s single-season school record of 11 in 2014.
ABOUT OKLAHOMA (11-1, 8-1)
Hurts, who ranks third in FBS in total offense (380.3) and second among quarterbacks in rushing yards (1,217), joined Tommy McDonald in 1956 as the only players in school history to record a passing, rushing and receiving touchdown in the same game versus the Cowboys. Sophomore running back Kennedy Brooks ran for a season-high 160 yards against Oklahoma State and is averaging 133.5 yards in four games since Trey Sermon (knee) was lost for the season in the Nov. 9 win over Iowa State. Biletnikoff Award finalist CeeDee Lamb, who missed the first meeting with an undisclosed injury, has managed only 52 yards receiving and one touchdown over the last two games but still ranks tied for third in the country with 14 TD catches.
1. Baylor is the first Power Five program in college football history to go from 1-11 to 11-1 in two seasons.
2. Oklahoma has won five straight in the series and is vying to win five consecutive conference championships for the first time since capturing nine in a row from 1972-80.
3. The Bears rank ninth in FBS with a Big 12-high 40 sacks and need one more for the most in a single season in program history.
PREDICTION: Baylor 31, Oklahoma 27