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Bears take shot at Cowboys in Big 12 action on Saturday

Nov. 12, 2004

By MATT RICHARDS, sports writer

Baylor goes on the road to Stillwater, Okla., for the last time this season to face the No. 25 Oklahoma State University Cowboys. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Boone Pickens Stadium.

Both teams will look to stop losing skids. Since beginning the season 5-0, the Cowboys have dropped three of four. The last two losses have come against opponents ranked in the top 10.

The Cowboys failed to make a 19-yard field goal to force overtime against rival the University of Oklahoma two weeks ago. Junior running back Vernand Morency rushed for a season low 98 yards in the loss.

Last week, OSU was steamrolled on the road by No. 7 Longhorns, 56-35. After taking a 35-14 lead into the locker room at halftime, The University pf Texas came out in the second half and took over. The Longhorns scored six consecutive touchdowns -- 42 points -- in the second half.

"I've never been through one like that," OSU head Coach Les Miles told ESPN.com. "There will be some pain. There's no way to have a game like that where you don't ache."

On the other hand, Baylor will look to end its streak of eight years in the Big 12 without a road victory this weekend. Last week, on the road against Texas Tech University, the Bears failed to score a victory after an upset of Texas A&M University at home.

The monkey of a road win is still on the backs of the Bears.

"I wish I could play every game at home, but that's the nature of the beast," Baylor head Coach Guy Morriss said. "For me, I like going into places. They've got people rocking your bus, they're throwing beer bottles at you, spitting at you. That kind of stuff fires me up. We need to go out with a little more of that attitude."

It's a good news/bad news story for Baylor this weekend.

The bad news comes in the form of Morency and the Cowboy running attack. The OSU rushing game is one of the best in the nation and second in the conference behind Texas at 246 yards per contest. Morency is fifth in the nation and rushing and second in the conference with a little less than 150 yards per game average.

The combination of one of the nation's top rushing attacks with the conference's worst rushing defense in Baylor could equal a long day for the Bears.

"No question that they are going to run the ball at you," defensive coordinator Bill Bradley said. "They are going to pound it at you and pound it at you different ways. Then, they are going to play action you."

The play-action pass threat begins with freshman quarterback Donovan Woods and ends with his brother, sophomore wide receiver D'Juan Woods. If the younger Woods isn't sprinting out from under center on a designed keeper, he's likely going to find his kid brother for a big completion.

The good news for the Bears is that the Cowboys do nothing fancy on offense. They pound the ball between the tackles over and over again, wearing down defenses with the run.

If Baylor can stop or even slow down Morency and force Woods to pass, the chances for a win on the road go way up. Statistically, when Woods throws 20 times or more, the Cowboys lose. In games where the OSU offense is functioning properly, Woods shouldn't throw any more than 10 or 11 times.

On offense, starter sophomore quarterback Shawn Bell will be in familiar territory. The Cowboys run a 4-2-5 defense, exactly the same defense the Bears run and the same one Bell practiced against all spring.

The addition of some key injuries has left the Cowboys susceptible to big plays by the opposition.

Finding the holes in the familiar Cowboys defense will be key for the Bears.

Baylor has not defeated the Cowboys since joining the Big 12 Conference in 1996.