Cowboys Won't Take Bears For Granted

STILLWATER – Neither Xavier Lawson-Kennedy nor Donovan Woods are buying into what Oklahoma State fans are saying about this Saturday's game against Baylor. Most Cowboy fans believe that the Bears are the best chance for OSU to get its sixth win of the season, and become bowl eligible. But those who lived through last season's loss to Baylor are not taking anything for granted.

"In previous years you could probably say that," Lawson-Kennedy said of the Cowboys being huge favorites over Baylor and having a good chance to secure their sixth win of the season. "But Baylor has stepped it up. It's going to be a great game."

A year ago, OSU had just upset then 13th-ranked Texas Tech, 24-17, before making the trip to Waco to face Baylor. The Cowboys turned the ball over eight times – five in the first half – and had a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown called back because of a holding penalty as they fell behind 38-0 in the first half. OSU rallied but it was too little too late in the 44-34 loss.

"Baylor is definitely a lot better team than they've been in the past," said Cowboy free safety Donovan Woods. "Their coach (Guy Morriss) is doing a good job of recruiting good players, and they believe in the system that he's implemented. They're not a bad team. They've beat some quality teams. We know that they are a challenging opponent for us, and we won't take them lightly."

The Bears, 4-6 overall and 3-3 in Big 12 play, are different from the team that beat Kansas State (17-3), Colorado (34-31 in overtime) and Kansas (36-35) earlier this season. That's because senior quarterback Shawn Bell suffered a season-ending knee injury two weeks ago, and redshirt freshman Blake Szymanski made his first collegiate start in last week's 55-21 loss to Texas Tech.

"I think there's some difference because of his experience, but Szymanski played very well for the first time he's been in a game when it really counted. I thought he played very well," OSU head coach Mike Gundy said.

Gundy, however, is going to be more focused on the preparation of Cowboy quarterback Bobby Reid this week than on what Szymanski and the Bears are doing in Waco. The Cowboys' sophomore quarterback had his worst game of the season – completing just 11 of 28 passes for 123 yards while throwing two interceptions – in Saturday's 36-10 loss to fourth-ranked Texas.

"This week my focus is to study hard, like I've always been doing, practice hard with my team, and on Saturday make the throws that I know I can make, and lead my team to victory," said Reid, who still has the 10th best passing efficiency rating among Division I-A quarterbacks despite his performance against the Longhorns.

Gundy says, "Bobby is all right. He didn't play very well. I was disappointed that he didn't play well because he practiced just like he had practiced all year, and he prepared. He just didn't play good. He has to bounce back. He doesn't have any other choice. He needs to come back, prepare, study tape, practice well and get ready to play in the next game, and that's all he's done this season so I wouldn't expect anything else from him."

Reid could give some advice to Szymanski since he knows what it's like to start as a redshirt freshman on the road. A year ago, he started against the Bears in Waco and was pulled early in the second quarter after completing just four of eight passes and throwing two interceptions.

"Last year I had a very bad game against Baylor and unfortunately we lost," Reid said. "A lot of us are looking to get back at Baylor. Not just beating Baylor … but we're looking to win this thing out."

The Cowboys need just one win in their final three games to earn one of the Big 12's eight automatic bowl berths. It would seem that Baylor would be the most likely win in the final three weeks of the regular season – at Texas Tech on Nov. 18 and against Oklahoma on Nov. 25 at Boone Pickens Stadium.

"It's still a top goal," Reid said of going to a bowl game. "We've still got three games to get us to a bowl game. We're in good position to be where we want to be at, and we're looking to go forward."

Lawson-Kennedy agrees. "It is very important. Last year we were 4-7 and it was kind of upsetting to me due to the fact we went to a bowl the previous year, and some of my friends that I had been up here with such as J.D. Bray and Cody Townsend and all the seniors didn't get to go out on a bowl game. We need to go out and get a win and become bowl eligible."

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