During this season-long magical ride, Baylor has proven over and over that it can overcome any challenge.
Trailing Kansas State in their first road test, the Bears proved they could rally from a second-half deficit and win a gritty game against mastermind coach Bill Snyder.
In a highly charged atmosphere at Floyd Casey Stadium, they showed they could knock off a top-10 team when they pummeled Oklahoma.
Despite an early two-touchdown deficit against Texas Tech, the Bears were unfazed as they rallied for a 63-34 win Saturday night at AT&T Stadium.
Those wins have propelled the Bears to a 9-0 record and the No. 4 spot in the Bowl Championship Series standings, only a fraction behind Ohio State. Not only did the Bears advance a spot in the BCS standings, they moved past the Buckeyes to No. 3 in the Associated Press poll to match their highest ranking since 1953.
But to turn a great season into the best in school history, the Bears will have to prove they can beat No. 10 BCS-ranked Oklahoma State in Stillwater this weekend. The focus of the college football world will be on Saturday night’s game as ESPN’s College GameDay rolls into town.
Stillwater has been Baylor’s black hole. The Bears have lost nine straight games on Oklahoma State’s turf since the Big 12 began, and the scores have been pretty ugly.
Since Art Briles’ arrival, the Bears have lost by scores of 34-6, 55-28 and 59-24. The last blowout was in 2011 with Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III was Baylor’s quarterback. In that one, the Cowboys showed once again how tough they are to beat at Boone Pickens Stadium.
74 years since victory
Baylor’s last win in Stillwater was in 1939 when Morley Jennings was the Bears’ coach. I can’t say I’ve ever interviewed anybody named Morley in 31 years of covering Baylor.
While nobody in the Big 12 has been as hot as the Bears, the Cowboys have been a close second. They’re 9-1 overall and 6-1 in the Big 12, and stand a half-game behind the 6-0 Bears.
Since a 30-21 loss to West Virginia in Morgantown on Sept. 28, the Cowboys have played like someone stuck a spur in their hide. They’ve reeled off six Big 12 wins, and have won the last four games over Iowa State, Texas Tech, Kansas and Texas by an average of 27.5 points.
That Oklahoma State steamroller blew into Austin on Saturday and flattened the Longhorns, 38-13. Quarterback Clint Chelf showed his poise and escapability by throwing for 197 yards and two touchdowns and running for 95 yards and two more scores.
Oklahoma State’s defense was opportunistic all day as it intercepted three Case McCoy passes, including Justin Gilbert’s 43-yard return for a touchdown that gave the Cowboys a 28-10 halftime lead.
The Cowboys pounded a Texas team that was unbeaten in the Big 12. It was the most lopsided loss Texas coach Mack Brown ever suffered in 16 seasons in Austin.
Saturday will be by far the toughest challenge for the Bears, who have won every game by at least 29 points except for a 35-25 win over Kansas State. But it’s the type of game the Bears have to win to take home their first Big 12 title.
If the Bears beat the Cowboys, the countdown to the Big 12 championship will begin. They’ll have all kinds of momentum heading into a Nov. 30 road game against a TCU team that has no shot of reaching a bowl.
Baylor won’t need extra incentive to beat Texas on Dec. 7 in the final game at Floyd Casey Stadium. The Bears will be highly motivated to shut down the Case in style before moving into their new on-campus stadium. And after all, it is Texas.
It has been decades since the Bears played any games this meaningful in late November. What an exciting time for Baylor football with games approaching with Big 12 and national championship implications. The games will get a lot more meaningful if the Bears beat the Cowboys in Stillwater.