Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy was succinct when describing what the Cowboys need to do to counter Baylor's potent offense, which is averaging 61.2 points and nearly 685 yards per game.
“We have to score, because they're going to score,” Gundy said.
Different strategies are often debated in how to neutralize fast-paced and fast-scoring spread offenses. So should OSU manage the game on that side of the ball? Use the ground game to churn the clock and keep the Baylor offense off the field?
Or try to keep pace with the Bears' quick-strike attack?
The Cowboys take: be themselves.
“I don't think you sit here and try to overthink it too much,” offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said. “We have to execute our offense. And if we take care of our business, things will be just fine.
“Our players understand what's important, and that's our own play.”
Cowboy receiver Charlie Moore added that he didn't feel “pressure” to match Baylor's eye-popping production.
“We know we have to put up points,” Moore said. “But at the same time, our defense has been doing so great this year.”
OPPONENT WATCH: BEARS DT ROTATION A KEY
Much of Baylor's emergence as a national contender can be credited to the Bears' improved defense, which features more speed and depth than in years past.
That includes the big boys up front.
Baylor has a bit of a revolving door at defensive tackle, as sophomores Beau Blackshear and Suleiman Masumbuko are the regular starters while freshmen Andrew Billings and Byron Bonds and sophomore Trevor Clemons-Valdez rotate in on a consistent basis.
“It makes a huge, significant difference,” Masumbuko told the Waco Tribune-Herald. “We can be ready to go, even in overtime if need be. It's great to know that we can play a full game and still go in Sunday morning and (lift weights) like we do.”
Blackshear leads that group statistically with 20 tackles (3.5 for loss), 2.5 sacks and one quarterback hurry.
Cowboys senior fullback Kye Staley on one reason for optimism against Baylor:
“I feel like they haven't played a team that's a physical as we are, offensively, defensively and special teams. It's going to be a good game. It's going to be fun to play.”
GAMEDAY PLANS LIVE SHOTS FRIDAY
Saturday marks the fourth time for ESPN's GameDay to go live from Stillwater.
But the network's use of OSU as a backdrop won't be limited to Saturday.
ESPN will use the GameDay set for live shots during its College Football Live programming Friday, with shots set for 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2.
14 COWBOYS EARN ACADEMIC ALL-BIG 12
The Big 12 announced its Academic All-Big 12 Team Thursday, with 14 Cowboys earning spots.
On the first team: quarterback Clint Chelf, offensive lineman Parker Graham, cornerback Ashton Lampkin, linebackers Caleb Lavey and Shaun Lewis, receiver Charlie Moore, punter Michael Reichenstein and long snapper Connor Sinko.
On the second team: defensive ends Trace Clark and Emmanuel Ogbah, linebacker Deion Imade, fullbacks Jeremy Seaton and Teddy Johnson and long snapper Andrew Suter.
First-team members require a grade-point average of 3.20 or better, with a 3.00 to 3.19 necessary for the second team.
SPENCER MESSAGING MOTIVATION
OSU defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer is a big believer in motivation, and in using quotes and other writings to inspire his players.
Addressing his linebackers via Twitter Thursday, Spencer sent an outtake from Matterhorn, a novel by Karl Marlantes on the Vietnam War:
“He ran as he'd never run before, with neither hope nor despair. He ran because the world was divided into opposites and his side had already been chosen for him, his only choice being whether or not to play his part with heart and courage. He ran because fate had placed him in a position of responsibility and he had accepted the burden. He ran because his self-respect required it. He ran because he loved his friends and this was the only thing he could do to end the madness that was killing and maiming them.”
BY GINA MIZELL AND JOHN HELSLEY