It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of team Baylor brings up to Stillwater, the result is as predictable as a winter storm dumping snow and ice across Oklahoma.
I’ve seen the Bears haul bad teams up to Oklahoma State and get crushed as expected. I’ve seen them trek north with Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III in tow and get pounded by the Cowboys, 59-24.
Finally on an arctic Saturday night, the Bears brought their best team of the Big 12 era to Boone Pickens Stadium and finished on the wrong end of a 49-17 blowout.
That made 11 straight losses for the Bears in Stillwater including 10 in the Big 12 era, and they’ve all been uniformly ugly.
Maybe the Bears should ask the Cowboys if they can agree on a neutral site game like Baylor’s series with Texas Tech. Shoot for Ardmore or Gainesville. It can’t be any worse than trying to win a game in Stillwater.
Saturday night’s game was a humbling experience for a Baylor team that had been so dominant in winning its school-record first nine games. Though the Bears still have a shot at the Big 12 title, the loss tossed them out of the national championship picture as they dropped from No. 4 to 9 in the Bowl Championship Series standings.
With Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin missing their second straight game with injuries, No. 7 Oklahoma State shut down Baylor freshman Shock Linwood who had rushed for 369 yards in the previous two wins over Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
Bottled up all night, Linwood only produced 29 yards on 14 carries and fumbled twice. With an unproductive running game, the Bears’ offense became more one dimensional as Petty threw a season-high 48 passes. The junior quarterback hit 28 for 359 yards and two touchdowns, but was sacked twice and was often under heavy pressure.
It’s clear the Bears miss game breakers like Seastrunk and receiver Tevin Reese, two of the fastest players in the country at their positions. While the Bears would have had trouble beating the Cowboys even with those two players healthy, the team’s big-play threat has dropped significantly with their absences.
Following his first loss as Baylor’s starting quarterback, Petty refused to make excuses. He did what a good leader should do: He took his share of the blame yet remained optimistic about the future.
“Would (a win) have been nice?” Petty said. “Sure, but it’s not going to ruin our goal as Big 12 champions. I’m not going anywhere, and we’re not going anywhere. We still have a lot to accomplish. We have to get back right and have a great week of practice.”
If the Bears beat TCU on Saturday in Fort Worth and knock off Texas in the final game at Floyd Casey Stadium, they’ll clinch a share of the Big 12 title. However, Oklahoma State has control of its own destiny. If the Cowboys beat Oklahoma in the final regular season game in Stillwater on Dec. 7, they’ll at least tie for the conference title and earn a spot in the Fiesta Bowl.
The only way Baylor can win the outright Big 12 title is by winning its last two games and Oklahoma knocking off Oklahoma State.
After everything they have accomplished, anything short of a BCS bowl would be disappointing to the Baylor players. They even had hopes of reaching the national championship game for the first time in school history with an undefeated regular season.
“We wanted something that’s never been done before and that was go to a national championship,” said Ahmad Dixon, who switched from safety to linebacker due to an injury to Bryce Hager. “The dream came down. I promise this next one won’t crash down on us.”
If you step back and look at the big picture, a Big 12 co-championship would be an incredible accomplishment for this program. Don’t forget the Bears were picked fifth in the preseason coaches poll following last year’s 8-5 finish. The Baylor players felt slighted that they weren’t picked higher, and they’ve gone out and proved they can contend for a conference championship.
Though the Bears dropped from third to ninth in the Associated Press poll, they’ve got a shot at their first top 10 finish at the end of the regular season since reaching No. 6 in 1980 when they went unbeaten in the Southwest Conference.
Getting hammered by Oklahoma State was a blow, but the Bears still have a lot to achieve. They’re going to have to get better on both sides of the ball and prove they can rebound from their first loss of the season Saturday against TCU.