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Bears plan to buck trends vs. OSU

Nov. 18, 2005

By DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD, reporter

Last week in Columbia, Mo., Baylor's football team was playing for a chance to become bowl eligible for the first time since 1994.

With bowl hopes dashed, the Bears are now playing to shake the "cellar dweller" image and look to end their season on a high note.

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Senior outside safety Maurice Lane will play his final collegiate game Saturday against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Floyd Casey Stadium. Lane needs 16 more tackles to move ahead of Ray Berry (380) to finish second all-time on the Baylor career total tackles list, behind Baylor football legend Mike Singletary (662).
A victory over the Cowboys Saturday won't get Baylor to a bowl game.

But a win on Senior Day would mark the Bears' first five-win season since 1995 and would give them two Big 12 wins in the same season for the first time ever.

"I think it would be significant for us to end up with five wins," head Coach Guy Morriss said. "I think it's important to our club. I think it's important to our seniors."

The Bears feature 12 senior lettermen and 11 senior starters, and Morriss said he would not sacrifice his seniors' playing time for a chance to get a look at younger players.

"We told the seniors Sunday to come ready to play 60 minutes," Morriss said. "I think it's important to us as a football program, if we can get this win. We are going to play our seniors every snap if we have to"

The Bears last won their final home conference game in 1992. Junior quarterback Shawn Bell, who will make his ninth start of the season Saturday, said a win would be huge for the seniors.

"It really would mean a lot for those guys," Bell said.

"Since I've been here, nobody's ever been able, as a senior, to leave happy. They're the reason we're here right now, and it would be nice to send them off with a victory."

A win over Oklahoma State would represent several more firsts for the Bears. It would be Baylor's first win over the Cowboys since the Big 12 began and would put Baylor fifth in the Big 12 South, moving the team out of the cellar for the first time in history.

Morriss said getting a win over the Cowboys wouldn't be easy.

"(The Cowboys are) gaining confidence and playing better," Morriss said. "They're going to play hard, I can guarantee that."

Going into the game, Oklahoma State ranks 11th in the Big 12 in both scoring offense and defense.

But the Cowboys do have the fourth best rushing offense in the conference, led by freshman running back Mike Hamilton, who is the Big 12's second leading rusher with 868 yards.

Senior outside safety Willie Andrews said the team's defensive game plan is to stop the Cowboys potent running attack.

"(We'll) try to beat them up front and make them beat us with the pass," Andrews said. "(We'll) try to get them out of what they're comfortable with, which is running the ball."

While Oklahoma State has one of the better rushing offenses in college football, it has one of the worst rushing defenses, giving up 204.6 yards per game.

Bell understands that to put points on the board, the Bears will have to exploit its opponent's weakness.

"We're going to have to run the ball," Bell said. "Every week, we go into the game thinking we have to run it. The better we're passing the ball, the better we'll run it. And the better we're running the ball, the better we'll pass it. It's just one of those things that if one's working, the other one will."

Morriss said a win Saturday would make the team's progress this season more evident and would give the players a boost for next year.

"If we can close on a win, I think everybody feels better about the season," Morriss said. "I think we'll still be disappointed, but it gives you a that positive feeling going into the offseason."

The Bears and Cowboys will clash to avoid being last place in the Big 12 South at 1 p.m. Saturday at Floyd Casey Stadium.