ANOTHER BRIDGE #3 Bears Looking For 1st Win in Stillwater Since '39Nov. 19, 2013
By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider
Ahmad Dixon has obviously done his homework.
While the senior safety has only been on two of Baylor's 10 consecutive losing trips to Stillwater, Okla., he was well aware of the history of the Bears' history against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
"The only thing that sticks out to me is 1939," he said at the Baylor football team's weekly press conference on Monday. "That's the last time we've beaten those guys in Stillwater. . . . We feel like this is the time to seize that and the time to end that streak. It's not about what they do, it's not about being in Stillwater, it's just about us. Like it has been all season, it's all about Baylor."
Art Briles has crossed more bridges than he count in six seasons at Baylor - ending a 15-year bowl drought, first bowl victory in 18 years and first win ever over Oklahoma, just to name a few. But like the five previous head coaches at Baylor, he's yet to win a game at Boone Pickens Stadium, getting outscored, 148-60, in three lopsided games.
"It's kind of the nature of the business," he said. "We certainly have to do a better job of tightening up our focus, making sure our game plan is right and eliminating anything that might give them added momentum during the game. We have to play real clean and be real sharp with our focus. But I think, without question, that we're going in there as a more mature football team than what we have in the past."
And while the Cowboys were ranked in the top 10 twice in the last three meetings, this is the first top-10 Baylor team to ever play in Stillwater.
The Bears (9-0, 6-0), coming off a 63-34 thumping of Texas Tech, are ranked third by the Associated Press and fourth in the latest BCS rankings going into Saturday's 7 p.m. game against the No. 9/11 Cowboys (9-1, 6-1) that will go a long way to deciding the Big 12 champion.
"We're concerned about the present, and that's all that matters and that's all that we have control over," Briles said. "So, that's all we talk about."
But this is clearly another thing the Bears would like to check off their to-do list.
"I marked this game before the season ever started," said senior running back Glasco Martin, who sat out the Tech game with a strained knee after picking up just 13 yards on six carries the week before in a 41-12 win over Oklahoma. "I knew this would be a game for us. I know Stillwater's a tough place to play. . . . Me personally, I've never won there since I've been here, so I really want to make that happen this year."
Martin, of course, is not alone. The Bears' last victory in Stillwater came on Oct. 7, 1939, when Hall of Famer Morley Jennings was the coach and All-American Robert Nelson was the center for a team that left there with a 13-0 win.
Dixon and Martin agreed that the toughest part is the vocal OSU crowd being "literally, right there on your back."
"The only place that I can even picture close to them is A&M," Dixon said. "And the only reason why I say A&M is because they're on their feet the whole time and they're loud. When you go to Oklahoma State, they're on their feet the whole time, they're loud and they're stepping on your shoulders. You're coming to the sidelines, and you're trying to focus and listen to what the coaches are saying. But it comes with the territory."
The Bears are getting a hot Oklahoma State team that has won six in a row since a head-scratching 30-21 loss at West Virginia. Sparked by a stout defense and improved quarterback play from senior Clint Chelf, the Cowboys have won their last four by an average margin of 27.5 points, including Saturday's 38-13 dismantling of a Texas team that had won six in a row.
"He just seems to be very composed," Briles said of Shelf, who has thrown for 1,222 yards and 11 touchdowns and added 325 yards and five TDs rushing. "He has the ability to run, which they've really added the last two or three weeks. He's really hurt some teams running the ball, and they throw it very effectively. As a program, I think Oklahoma State does a great job of playing to their personnel and keeping things within the parameters that they feel like they need to keep them within to have an opportunity to win. I think they do a good job of game management, both sides of the ball."
The Bears have won a school-record 13 in a row, the nation's third-longest active streak. But injuries have begun to mount with both Martin and running back Lache Seastrunk (pulled groin) missing the last game and receiver Tevin Reese out the rest of the regular season with a dislocated wrist.
Junior linebacker Bryce Hager missed the second half of the Tech game with a pulled groin, and the latest blow came Tuesday when starting offensive tackle Spencer Drango had surgery to repair a ruptured disc in his back.
"His return to play will be determined following the surgery," said head trainer Mike Sims, but Briles is optimistic of getting his starting left tackle back for the Bears' bowl game.
"It's been kind of a lingering deal," Briles said Tuesday, "and it got to the point where this is the best option for him and for his future, so that's what he chose. . . . Two-year starter, great player, great teammate, great practice player and (he's) part of our family. So, we'll just see how we adjust today and go from there."
Briles and offensive line coach Randy Clements both said the Bears have a "variety of options" at the left tackle spot where Drango has started 22 consecutive games. That includes sophomore Pat Colbert, who's listed as Drango's backup, or possibly moving Kelvin Palmer or Troy Baker from the right side.
Another possibility is All-American left guard Cyril Richardson, who started all 13 games at left tackle as a sophomore during the Bears' 10-3 season.
"You never want to lose a guy, period," Clements said, "but a guy that's been as consistent as (Drango) has been is tough to replace. But we're excited about these guys that we're going to look at this week. . . . My job is to put the best five on the field at one time. So, we'll look at a couple other guys, and we've got some depth. It's just like any other position, you've got guys that have been waiting for their chance to get in there and prove what they can do."
To date, the Bears have had good success with fill-in replacements. Redshirt freshman running back Shock Linwood has had back-to-back games of 182 and 187 yards; receiver Levi Norwood had career highs for catches (seven), yards (159) and touchdowns (two) in the win over Tech; and redshirt freshman middle linebacker Aiavion Edwards came off the bench to make four tackles in Hager's spot.
"Every week, you kind of have to get prepared to go in and play," said Edwards, a converted running back from Stephenville (Texas) High School. "But this week, I have to play maybe a little bit more than usual, so I just have to prepare like I have and maybe a little more."