October 24, 2009

Open Season: Bears targeted by OSU

While the road hasn't been the smoothest so far in 2009, Oklahoma State is undefeated in Big 12 play with a huge game looming on the horizon against Texas on a potentially-spooky Halloween night.

There's just one thing in the way of that massive showdown: the bad news Baylor Bears. After losing Robert Griffin for the season, the high hopes in Waco took a big hit. Even so, they're in position to compete for a bowl berth and a win today would put them in great shape for the postseason. But do they have sharp enough claws to gash No. 14 Oklahoma State? We'll find out at 11:30 a.m. in a game televised nationally on Versus at Floyd Casey Stadium.

OSU (5-1 overall, 2-0 Big 12) hits Jerusalem-on-the-Brazos after a solid win against Missouri last weekend. The Bears (3-3, 0-2) limp home after a tough 24-10 loss at Iowa State. Now BU has to take on a highly-ranked Cowboy squad looking to make quick work of the Bears. How does a team recover so quickly to answer the call? BU head coach Art Briles says that you simply have to move on and find something else.

"It's not easy and it's not fun but if it was there might be more people doing it," Briles said. "It's part of what we do and you have to fight through (it), live through (it) and sustain through it. We feel like we're starting fresh; we have six games behind us and six in front of us. Of those next six games, we have three at home and one at a neutral site. So we have a favorable schedule coming in, but it all starts and ends this Saturday with Oklahoma State . We just have to look (at the) present and we're just trying to win each play."

So just what will the Bears throw at the Pokes?

Offensively, they're very similar to what they were last year; a lot of run, pass option, a lot of screens, a lot of tunnels to get the ball to the perimeter," said head coach Mike Gundy. "Then defensively, they're going to put everybody in the box and try to stop the run and it's fortunate to throw the football."

"Baylor is an eight-man front football team," said offensive coordinator Gunter Brewer. "They can balance you up and they have some players that I think anybody in this league would like to have. They've had their quarterback injured which has caused a little struggle, which if we ever lost Zac (Robinson) you'd see the same thing. They've responded well, they play hard and they run to the football."

While all that may be true, the fact remains their best player won't be on the field today. And with that, the Bears are much less of a potential scare than they looked to be back in August.

"They lose some speed on the offense losing Griffin," Cooper Bassett said. "Their quarterback now started before Griffin was there and they're a lot more athletic than they have been in years past and a lot more competitive. Overall, they're a pretty solid team. A lot of people put them down because in years past they haven't been a dominant team in the Big 12. Times are changing and we're definitely not taking them lightly at all."

After the hits the Cowboys have taken, they can't overlook anyone. Big names Dez Bryant and Kendall Hunter haven't been on the field, meaning they've had to come up with different combinations to win. So far, so good. Getting Bryant back soon seems more doubtful as time lapses, but Gundy said he is hopeful for Hunter's return.

"Yes, for sure. He has practiced the last two weeks. We expect him to practice out there today. His injury is day-to-day based on how he feels after practice with the workload we've given him. His workload has been increasing each week and discussion took place yesterday for about five seconds. I think, medically, he's OK. I think they've said, 'You can play.' He has to feel like he can go out there and work is really what it's come down to."

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