NORMAN — Colorado players got off the bus in Norman on Saturday, Oct. 28, 1989, wearing black T-shirts with a clear, pointed message printed in gold letters: “Things have changed.”
The Buffaloes beat Oklahoma 20-3 that day for their first win in the series since 1976. A year later, Colorado won a national championship, completing the former Big Eight Conference bottom feeder's slow, steady rise with coach Bill McCartney.
The Sooners wouldn't beat Colorado again until 2002, after the program had recovered from a miserable decade and returned to national prominence under Bob Stoops.
Baylor remained unbeaten and in the 2013 national-title hunt after Thursday's 41-12 rout of Oklahoma, continuing Art Briles' impressive construction of the football program that once was an automatic victory for virtually every other Big 12 team.
Is history repeating itself? Have things changed?
Oklahoma was, of course, in its first season after Barry Switzer's resignation in 1989, and Bob Stoops has shown no sign that he's going anywhere anytime soon.
Still, a former cellar dweller is now the clear favorite to win the conference Oklahoma once dominated, and Baylor proved its worth in an impressive, convincing victory over the Sooners.
While Oklahoma has — by almost all measurable standards — undergone a steady decline in national prominence over the past five years, Briles leads a strong Baylor program that appears built for sustained, lasting success in the near future.
“Baylor's a great team and I give them credit,” OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said after Thursday's loss. “They played well, and it's their time.”
The Sooners return to action Saturday at home against Iowa State, which has yet to win a Big 12 game in 2013, before ending the season with tough road trips to Kansas State and Oklahoma State.
After Thursday's loss — the Sooners' second Big 12 setback this year — Oklahoma's chances to win a Big 12 title this season are very slim.
“We can't control what happens out there,” junior quarterback Blake Bell said when asked about the Sooners' now-slim chances to win a Big 12 title.
“Obviously, we lost tonight. All I know is from here (is) we have to go in the right direction and get ready for the Cyclones at home — that's all we can do.”
Should Baylor earn the 2013 conference title, it would be the fifth straight Big 12 season with a different champion. Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech could all be forces in the coming years. Texas — with its talent and money — is always a threat, and teams like TCU and Kansas State have shown they can contend in the league, too.
The days of Oklahoma winning seven Big 12 championships in 11 seasons don't appear likely to return anytime soon.
Things have changed, indeed.