OSU-Baylor play Saturday in a virtual Big 12 semifinal game. The key matchups that will determine the outcome:
* CAN OSU SLOW THE BAYLOR PASSING GAME?
The Bears are averaging 384.4 passing yards per game. Texas Tech is actually averaging more, 400.2, but Baylor's pass game is much more effective. Baylor is averaging just 31 passes a game; Tech is averaging 56 passes per game.
OSU's pass defense has played well in its two biggest tests, Tech and Texas. The Cowboys combined for five interceptions in those two games and allowed just two TD passes.
Baylor and OSU rank 1-2 in Big 12 pass efficiency defense. If Justin Gilbert and Co. can hold their own against Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, the Cowboys go a long way toward victory.
* CAN CLINT CHELF RUN ON BAYLOR?
OSU's offensive renaissance this season is tied to Chelf's effectiveness running. He had a 67-yard TD run that broke open the game at Tech. Chelf gained 95 yards on 10 carries at Texas, scoring two touchdowns.
Chelf's passing has been spotty, but the league has few QBs who are true dual-threats. Petty and Chelf are the best. Kansas State's Jake Waters probably is No. 3; he rushed for 43 yards on 10 carries against Baylor, though his passing was a paltry 6-of-15. Chelf should be able to throw much better than that, opening some running lanes.
* WHO CAN SCORE ON A RETURN?
Baylor has seven touchdowns this season on returns — Levi Norwood two punt returns, Bryce Hager a fumble return, Corey Coleman a kickoff return and Joe Williams, Terrell Burt and Chris McAllister interception returns.
OSU has six TDs on returns — Josh Stewart two punt returns, Justin Gilbert two interception returns, Gilbert a kickoff return and Tyler Johnson a fumble return.
But Stewart has missed virtually all of the last two games with a foot injury. His availability for Baylor is unknown.
However, four of Baylor's TD returns came against Buffalo, Wofford or Louisiana-Monroe.
Only one of OSU's six returns came in non-conference (Stewart's punt return vs. Lamar). The Cowboys have five returns for TDs in Big 12 play.