WACO (AP) – Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy and Baylor’s Art Briles sounded like the mutual admiration society talking about each other’s offense, even when they were at their respective campuses unaware of what the other was saying.
“They have good skill players on offense. They’ve had them over a number of years,” Gundy said this week when asked about Briles and the Bears. “It’s a challenge in this league for everyone to slow those guys down each week.”
Briles? He talked about how 24th-ranked Oklahoma State has been “good for a long time, definitely the last seven or eight years since coach Gundy has been there. They probably aren’t throwing the ball as much as they did — but their offense is still very good.”
Oklahoma State (7-4, 5-3 Big 12) is averaging 548 total yards per game, just above the single-season school record the Cowboys set only last year. Even while using three different quarterbacks, including two freshmen, this time.
Yet, the Cowboys are second in the Big 12 behind Baylor (6-5, 3-5), which in the season after the departure of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III is still averaging 576 yards a game.
In a league with plenty of big scores and five overtime games this season, fittingly the Big 12’s two most productive offenses play each other in the regular-season finale Saturday.
Both the Cowboys and Bears, already bowl eligible, are coming off overtime games in which nearly 100 points were scored. Baylor beat Texas Tech 52-45 at Cowboys Stadium, and Oklahoma State lost 51-48 to Oklahoma in a wild Bedlam game.
“It’s just something we have to put behind us,” Cowboys offensive lineman Lane Taylor said. “This year, we’ve done a great job of bouncing back after Arizona, Texas and Kansas State. This team has already dealt with this situation, and we’ll be able to put it in the past. … The season’s not over. We’re still playing for a lot. We’re playing for a quality bowl. We want to finish out strong.”
Baylor is bowl eligible for the third consecutive season, a first in school history. With another win, they will have at least seven wins three seasons in a row for the first time since 1949-51.
After a 42-34 loss at Oklahoma on Nov. 10, the Bears still had to win two of their last three games to get bowl eligible.
They took care of that with their impressive 52-24 victory over Kansas State, which had taken over the No. 1 spot in the BCS rankings before traveling to Waco, and then rallying from an early two-touchdown deficit against Texas Tech.
“We felt some pressure last week because when you get down there to the end you better seize the moment, and that is what our guys did,” Briles said. “That is what is so rewarding for them and for Baylor.”
Quarterback Nick Florence is one of 23 Baylor seniors who will play their last home game. Florence, who succeeded Griffin, leads the nation with 390 total yards per game and is the Big 12’s top passer (348 yards passing a game).
“Getting to play, getting that opportunity means a lot,” he said. “I know we had higher goals than just a bowl game, but things happen during the season, and for the nation to write us off as a team and then to see the fight that this team has and to fight back has been extraordinary.”
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