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Bryce Petty and the nation's top-ranked offense look for their first win in Stillwater in 74 years
College Gameday heads to Stillwater, Okla. as Art Briles and the No. 4 Baylor Bears travel into Boone Pickens Stadium to take on Mike Gundy and the No. 10 Oklahoma State Cowboys at 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC. Baylor appears confident for the national stage with its offense leading the nation in points and yards. The Bears have run through their schedule without many serious challenges, with the only exception being a 35-25 scare at Kansas State. Fans of offense will enjoy this game with Baylor averaging 61.2 and Oklahoma State averaging 40.4 points per game. With a win, Baylor will likely move to No. 3 in the BCS, with a serious chance at a national championship appearance. However, a Bears loss would all but sew up the Big 12 title for Oklahoma State.
Three Things to Watch
This game is at the hostile venue of Boone Pickens Stadium, where the Bears are 0-9 since 1994. In fact, Baylor hasn't won in Stillwater in over 70 years. The last time Baylor defeated Oklahoma State in Stillwater was 1939. Since 1994, the Cowboys are 15-3 against Baylor. Since Mike Gundy took over at Oklahoma State in 2005, the Cowboys are 4-0 in Stillwater against Baylor. In those games, their average margin of victory is an impressive 33 points, with the Cowboys averaging 53.5 points per contest. Baylor hasn't beaten a Top 25 team on the road in 22 years. But if the Bears want to be considered legitimate national contenders they must survive the curse of Stillwater.
Health of Baylor Offense
Injuries will really hamper the Bears' explosive offensive attack in this game. Already without top WR Tevin Reese the past few weeks, it was announced earlier this week that starting LT Spencer Drango will undergo surgery to repair a ruptured disk in his back. Drango, a 6-foot-5, 315-pound sophomore, has started the last 22 games at left tackle for Baylor. Additionally, running backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin are questionable after missing last week against Texas Tech. However, Art Briles told the media yesterday that both look like they will likely be ready to go. Seastrunk has averaged 8.71 yards per carry and has scored 11 touchdowns this season, while Martin is at a 4.3 yards per rush clip with five touchdowns. The good news for the Bears is that third-stringer Shock Linwood ran 29 times for 187 yards and one touchdown against Texas Tech.
Oklahoma State Defense
The Cowboys' defense leads the country with 19 interceptions. In addition to their talents at creating turnovers, Mike Gundy's defense is adept on third downs and in the red zone. Their defense in 12th in the nation on third downs, allowing conversions only 32 percent of the time. They are ninth in the NCAA in red-zone defense, giving up just 15 touchdowns in 34 red zone drives. While Baylor has converted 52.4 percent of third downs this year, they have converted just 41 percent the last two games against Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
Key Player: Desmond Roland, RB, Oklahoma State
The power run game of the Cowboys could be the key to controlling the clock and slowing down Art Briles' offense. The combo of Roland and Jeremy Smith, who have combined for nearly 900 yards and 19 rushing touchdowns, is Mike Gundy's key to slowing the tempo of this game.
The Cowboys in Stillwater are tough enough. Throw in Baylor's recent slew of injuries and the improved play of Oklahoma State QB Clint Chelf, who has thrown five touchdowns to just one interception the last two contests. Chelf's legs add an additional threat, with his 8.1 yards per carry, as he has rushed for 85+ yards in three of the last four games. On the other hand, Bears' QB Bryce Petty has seen his play slide recently, posting his two worst completion percentages of the season. The Bears will undoubtedly move the ball, but if Oklahoma State can bend but not break, and force key turnovers, they can pull the big upset.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 42, Baylor 37