November 20, 2013

Reverse the Curse

In the grand scheme, the Baylor football team's visit to Oklahoma A&M on Saturday Oct. 7, 1939, seemed fairly insignificant.
The world started plunging into World War II. Nazi Germany had invaded Poland on Sept. 1. Hopes for peace dimmed.

But for a few hours, those who attended the game in Stillwater, OK. took their minds off the horror and watched the Bears defeat the Cowboys, 13-0.

Little did anyone know then that it would be the last time Baylor would win in Stillwater. Since that victory, the United States has witnessed 13 presidents, the annexation of Alaska and Hawaii, Oklahoma A&M changing its name to Oklahoma State (1957), the journey to the moon, the fall of Communism and the proliferation of technology at such a rapid pace that FaceBook feels obsolete.

Yes, it's been that long since Baylor has won at Oklahoma State. But the Bears can make history history Saturday night. The nation's No. 4 BCS team (9-0, 6-0 in the Big 12) meets the No. 10 Cowboys (9-1, 6-1) at 7:00 p.m. in a nationally televised game on ABC.

To be fair, it's not as if this has been a long-storied series. The teams are only meeting for the 32nd time. Oklahoma State leads, 18-13.

But for whatever reason, Boone Pickens Stadium has been a chamber of horrors for this program. Baylor has only made 10 previous trips to Stillwater since that game 74 years ago. The two teams started playing each other on a regular basis starting in 1996 when the Big 12 was formed. You know the history where the Cowboys have won 15 of the last 17.

The average score in these meetings has been Oklahoma State 46, Baylor 19. And there hasn't been a close one mixed in there. Even in Robert Griffin III's Heisman Trophy season in 2011, Oklahoma State won convincingly, 59-24.

But Baylor coach Art Briles keeps it relative when discussing the history.

"They've just played better than we have up there. … It's a situation where you could probably speak to a few universities and it would probably be the same outcome for them, just like it would be the same outcome for people who have come to Floyd Casey. It's just the nature of the business.''

That's true. In fact, Baylor is one win away from closing out The Case with a 7-0 record and winning 18 of its last 19 games.
What's been problematic for past visits up north is that Baylor has started slowly. In the last six, the Bears have been outscored in the first quarter, 69-16.

But as Briles has said football is a proving business. In his six seasons in Waco, he guided Baylor to its first bowl game in 16 years, its first win at Texas in 19 years in 2010, its first win over Oklahoma (now there's a second) and snapped a 15-game losing streak to Texas Tech.

There have been a lot of firsts in these last three seasons. That's why this version of Baylor football could be the one to vanquish the demons. A better start would neutralize a hostile crowd. No turnovers or committing mindless penalties definitely would augment those chances.

And recent history may be on the Bears' side. Baylor won last year's meeting in Waco, 41-34 to end a six-game overall losing streak to the Cowboys. There are many members of this team who can look across the sideline and know it can beat that team.

It could be the recipe Baylor needs to take control of the Big 12 championship race and keep its BCS National title hopes alive.

"We've got to do a better job of tightening up our focus, making sure our game plan is right, and eliminating anything that might get them added momentum during the game,'' Briles said. "That's the deal. We've got to play real clean and we've got to be real sharp with our focus. I think we're going into there, without question, with a more mature football team than we've had in the past.''

On this date: Oct. 7, 1939
These are some of the notable events that took place the last time Baylor won at Oklahoma State.

>Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder was born

>Australian actor Paul Hogan "Crocodile Dundee" is born

> "Kate Hopkins, Angel of Mercy" was heard for the first time on CBS radio

>Nazi Germany prepared to annex Western Poland the next day (Oct. 8)

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