WACO, Texas -- Corey Coleman hasn’t forgotten the frozen tundra of Boone Pickens Stadium.
“It was really cold,” Baylor’s star wide receiver said of his last visit. “Freezing.”
It was the first thing that came to mind for teammate Terrell Burt, too: “It was cold. That’s the No. 1 thing I would say. Very cold.”
Last time Baylor traveled up I-35 to take on Oklahoma State, in Nov. 2013, the temperature at kickoff was 35 degrees. The then-No. 4 Bears’ perfect season completely fell apart that night.
This time around, the No. 10 Bears are trying to save their Big 12 and College Football Playoff hopes. And guess what? AccuWeather is predicting a 35-degree night Saturday.
But it’s not just the weather. For some reason, Stillwater has long been Baylor’s kryptonite.
Coach Art Briles is 0-4 there and has been outscored by 30 points per game on average. Baylor hasn’t visited often but has strung together 11 straight losses on Oklahoma State's turf.
In fact, Baylor hasn’t won a game in Stillwater since 1939. Senior offensive tackle Spencer Drango did not know this.
“Dang, really? Holy crap,” he said. “Well ... we might be due. But who knows?”
Drango does remember watching from home as Oklahoma State shredded Baylor’s national title hopes in 2013. A 9-0 team that was scoring 61.2 points per game came to Stillwater and received a startling 49-17 beatdown.
Good thing Drango, fresh off season-ending back surgery, was heavily medicated that night. He remembers throwing a watch party, sitting in an oversized office chair and feeling completely helpless. He even tried texting teammates with advice at halftime.
“I just remember how miserable it looked up there,” Drango said. “I didn’t get to experience it last time, but I think we’re going to experience it again this time. It’s supposed to be similar to that ice storm. We’re prepared for it.”
The veterans who did play against Oklahoma State two years ago don’t struggle to summarize what happened. As Coleman put it: “Everything that could go wrong went wrong.”
Bryce Petty tripped short of the goal line on an easy touchdown run. Shock Linwood fumbled at the 1-yard line two plays later. Oklahoma State responded by driving 99 yards in seven plays. The rout was on from there.
Baylor fumbled two more times, including one returned for a 78-yard touchdown. The Bears were stopped on a pair of key fourth downs, too. And Clint Chelf played the game of his life, completing 19 of 25 passes for 370 yards, three scores and no interceptions.
Briles’ previous trips to Stillwater have all ended badly. Final scores: 34-6, 55-28, 59-24.
“Every time we’ve gone to Oklahoma State since I’ve been here, it hasn’t been good,” Briles said. “They’ve been really good every time we’ve gone up there. That’s kind of the bottom line, they’re always a good football team.”
He’s gained respect for Mike Gundy and the Cowboys along the way. His players trust in the system and rarely panic, Briles said, and the Pokes have been building a strong, steady program for a long time.
Briles has been especially impressed with Glenn Spencer’s creative, versatile defenses. They fill up on good guys from the state of Texas, know what they’re looking for in terms of fit, and know how to develop talent.
Under Briles, Baylor is averaging 19 points and 435 yards per game with a turnover margin of minus-9 during its trips to Stillwater. Of their 51 offensive drives in those four losses, Baylor’s prolific offense has produced 10 touchdowns, 11 turnovers and 18 punts.
Meanwhile, its defense gave up an average of 49 points and 594 yards per game at a rate of 8.0 yards per play.
To Briles, the reason for those failures is simple, and a 44-34 loss to Oklahoma last week provided another reminder: For all of Baylor’s talent, the margin for error is still thin in these big-time Big 12 games. And that’s especially true on the road.
“I felt like, overall, we didn’t come prepared to play that last game,” Burt said of the 2013 loss. “This year, it’s a different team.”
And this time, they need a different result. On a must-win weekend for the Bears, with all their goals on the line, they must throw on a few extra layers and find a way to brave the storm.