Art Briles had to be in a little disbelief looking up at the scoreboard during his last two dates with Oklahoma State, both in Stillwater.
"They’ve whooped us pretty good the last two years, unless my memory serves me wrong," Briles said. "They’ve kind of had their way with us."
The 56-year-old's memory is just fine. The Bears' fell behind Oklahoma State 49-3 after three quarters a year ago, despite possessing the nation's No. 2 offense and future Heisman winner Robert Griffin III. Baylor moved the ball, but turnovers and red zone failures combined with a hapless defense turned a pivotal Big 12 game into a laugher.
A year earlier, it was much of the same. Oklahoma State raced out to a 41-7 lead late in the third quarter against a ranked Bears team.
Baylor's had a historical run behind Briles, qualifying for three consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history and winning 23 games over that span. Still, Oklahoma State's held a hefty advantage over the Bears, winning six consecutive games in the series.
"It’s hard to explain why sometimes your players have really good weeks and then sometimes they don’t," coach Mike Gundy said of his team's recent dominance against Baylor. "We’ve played them later in the season, and our teams have practiced good and been healthy, but it’s hard to explain."
The Cowboys visit Waco this weekend for the first time since 2009 to close the season. Can Briles get his first win over a fellow Big 12 resurgent squad against OSU? He maintains the last two matchups won't affect this year's team or its confidence.
"One of those was what, 770 days ago or 800 days ago? The other one was 300 something days ago," he said.
Both teams are bowl eligible and out of the Big 12 title race heading into the final weekend, so they're playing for mostly bowl positioning and pride, but even a close loss might have Baylor feeling better about itself than it has the last two times the Cowboys have run the Bears out of Stillwater.
"With any great passing offense, you need to make them one-dimensional, so if you can limit their run game, which has been successful this year, you can get a better rush on the quarterback and make him throw some bad passes," linebacker Shaun Lewis said. "They kill teams with big plays, and if we can limit those big plays and make them drive the field, it might slow them down."
That's what happened the past two games. Before some garbage time scores in both games, OSU prevented the Bears' signature long touchdowns. Last year, a goal line stand, a fumble and an end zone interception left the Bears frustrated and out of the end zone until the game was well out of hand.
The Pokes will be looking for the same result against the Bears this week. Baylor doesn't have RG3 or Kendall Wright this time around, but Gundy's been impressed by his replacement, Nick Florence, who has the Bears back at No. 2 nationally in total offense.
"Coach Briles and their staff do a great job of getting him programmed for each game. He throws the ball, moves around and runs the ball effective enough to make some plays. He’s a very accurate passer. His numbers speak for themselves," Gundy said. "It’s extremely difficult what he’s done … I’m glad he’s a senior, to be honest with you."