NORMAN — Oklahoma center Gabe Ikard is ready for something different Thursday night at Baylor.
“I'm excited to get down to Waco and play,” Ikard said. “It'll be interesting. Thursday night, never done it. It's all about the new experiences.”
There is plenty of new in this matchup.
Oklahoma has been an underdog to Baylor before, but never since Bob Stoops took over in 1999.
The Las Vegas Sports Book earlier this week listed the Bears, undefeated and No. 6 in the BCS standings, as a 12-point favorite for the Nov. 7 meeting in Waco.
That would be the biggest road line against the Sooners during Stoops' tenure.
Stoops built his big-game reputation by pulling off upsets over his first few seasons in Norman.
Since, though, the Sooners haven't fared well as underdogs. Of course, the Sooners haven't been underdogs much since Stoops' arrival.
Oklahoma has been an underdog according to the final line just 23 times since 1999. Eight of those came in Stoops' first two seasons.
The Sooners are 9-14 in those games, but more than half of those wins came in 1999-2000.
Baylor is putting up historic offensive numbers through seven games. The Bears lead the nation in yards per game (718.4), points per game (63.9), yards per completion (19.6) and team passing efficiency (207.12).
“Baylor, everyone realizes (is) a top-five team in the country the way they're playing,” Stoops said. “All kinds of points. They've got speed everywhere. They're doing an excellent job. Offensively is where most of the talk is, but you look at them defensively and they're in the top part of the league in almost every defensive category. They've done an excellent job.
“It will be a big challenge.”
The Bears' defense is leading the nation in red-zone defense, allowing just eight touchdowns and three field goals in 20 red-zone tries. Baylor also leads the nation with more than nine tackles for loss per game.
Oklahoma has been a double-digit underdog just twice in the Stoops era.
In 2000, the Sooners were 10.5-point underdogs to Florida State in the Orange Bowl. OU won that game — and the national title — 13-2.
Texas was a 14-point favorite over the Sooners in 2005, a game Oklahoma lost 45-12.
That Sooners team, though, came in having dropped two of its first three games and with a shaky quarterback situation.
While the Sooners haven't received the stellar quarterback play this season that they have in many years since Josh Heupel's arrival in 1999, Blake Bell has been mostly solid at the position since taking over early in the season and the Sooners have just one loss — and a No. 10 BCS ranking — heading into Baylor.
“Everything we've been through, it shows a lot,” senior safety Gabe Lynn said. “We've got guys with character and stuff like that, because we had huge losses, as far as like Corey (Nelson) and now Trey (Millard) and Jordan Phillips, and then the loss against Texas.
“But we're still fighting. Some weeks, the offense might not look as good as it's supposed to be. Some weeks, the defense might not look that good, but each time we come back and we just keep getting better and better.”
Baylor has been favored over the Sooners twice in the Big 12 era. In 1998, the Bears were 4 1/2-point favorites at home before Oklahoma won 28-16. In 1996, also in Waco, Baylor was favored by a touchdown, but the Sooners won 28-24.