STILLWATER — Way back in the offseason, Baylor players would talk about the difficult road venues that loomed on their schedule.
Almost always, the conversations steered one way: to Boone Pickens Stadium.
“This is the place we've talked about the most,” said Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon.
And for good reason. Boone Pickens Stadium serves as a house of horrors for the Bears.
Overall, Baylor hasn't won in Stillwater since 1939, going 0-for-9 during the Big 12 era.
Even when the Bears have brought good teams into Boone Pickens Stadium — like 2010 and 2011, when Robert Griffin III directed potent offenses — it didn't end good.
In fact, it ended early. Each time.
In those last two visits, Baylor was blown out by halftime, trailing 35-0 at intermission in 2011 and 24-0 at the break in 2010. Inexplicably, the Bears didn't play to form, leaving beaten and bummed by their play.
Well, the Bears are good again, maybe better than at any time in their history at 9-0 and ranked No. 4 in the BCS. And they're headed for Stillwater again.
So will they bring any BPS baggage on this trip, or do those old trips represent nothing but old news?
“This is a place we haven't had a lot of past success in,” said Baylor's Bryce Petty. “So I think for me, being a quarterback, that's kind of where I want to win.
“You want to win every week, obviously, but the two places on the road — Manhattan and Stillwater — that's where you're going to make your mark.”
The Bears are clearly cognizant of their past struggles in Stillwater, yet aren't backing down from them, either. Many of the faces have changed. And the talent has improved, particularly on defense, which had long been a weak link to past Baylor squads.
“I think we're going in there as a more mature football team than we have in the past,” said Bears coach Art Briles, who has lost 34-6, 55-28 and 59-24 in his three ventures to Boone Pickens Stadium.
If past results are relevant to anyone, it might be the Cowboys. On a team loaded with seniors, there are several players with a working knowledge of OSU's manhandling of the Bears in Stillwater.
* 2010: The Cowboys led 24-0 at the half and 35-0 in the third quarter. Baylor had beaten Colorado, Kansas State and Texas for a three-game winning streak, but two lost fumbles and a Griffin interception were costly and OSU's Brandon Weeden-led offense totaled 725 yards of offense.
* 2011: The Bears moved the ball, marching inside the Cowboys 35 on their first five possessions. But they continually came up empty. Five turnovers and two failed fourth-and-1 attempts prevented Baylor from keeping pace with Weeden, Justin Blackmon, Joe Randle and Co. The loss dropped the Bears to 4-3, but they confirmed their talent by winning out, picking up statement wins over Oklahoma and Texas and finally an Alamo Bowl conquest of Washington to finish 10-3.
So what happened in those games?
“It's just a testament to our good scouting,” said Cowboys senior Kye Staley. “Finding out what their strong points are, their weak points are and executing.
“They've had RG3, a Heisman Trophy candidate — he came in and we shut him down. And our offense just executed.”
Perhaps that's where the mental carry-over exists — with the Cowboys.
“We all know they're going to be ready to play,” said senior offensive lineman Parker Graham, dismissing talk of any intangible edge. “They're top five in the country. They have a top-five offense. We're going to have to go out there and compete.”
Then there's the Boone Pickens Stadium factor.
Baylor has been shaky at best on the road in the Big 12 in recent years. The Bears went 1-3 in conference road games in 2011, with the lone win coming in overtime at Kansas. They were 0-4 on the road in the league last year.
This season, the Bears are 2-0 while away in the Big 12, yet those wins came at Kansas and Kansas State, with the latter an unsteady 35-25 verdict.
Now comes a visit to Boone Pickens Stadium, which has been on their minds for some time.
“Other than having a great team and great coaches,” Dixon said of the Cowboys, “they have a fan base that's stepping on your shoulders.”
Said Petty: “Going into Stillwater, I have to be perfect. That's what I want to strive for this week, game plan and preparation-wise. I know it's going to be a hostile environment and I want to make sure I have all my Ts crossed and Is dotted.”