Baylor or OSU will finally get first Big 12 victory

Friday, November 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WACO, Texas (AP) _ Baylor and Oklahoma State aren't playing for a bowl berth, or even a winning season. But one of them will get a significant win.

Baylor coach Kevin Steele or Oklahoma State's Les Miles will earn his first Big 12 coaching victory Saturday.

The Bears (2-7, 0-7 Big 12) are also trying to snap a 28-game conference losing streak that dates to October 1998, the season before Steele arrived. Baylor has lost all 23 Big 12 games under their third-year coach.

``It's not a monkey on our back, but a gorilla,'' Steele said. ``I don't think about winning for myself. I can't describe how much I want to win for our players. We try to give them every word they need to get the job done. When it's not enough, it just kills me.''

For the Bears, this is the last chance to avoid going into another offseason with that losing streak looming over their heads. Baylor's season ends with a non-conference home game against Southern Illinois.

Miles is in first season at Oklahoma State (2-7, 0-6). If the Cowboys lose, they do have one more Big 12 game. But it's at No. 3 Oklahoma in the season finale.

``We are not happy with losing,'' Miles said. ``If you are going to build a program, the first thing you have to build it on is effort. These guys have displayed that.''

In all five Big 12 seasons, Baylor has finished alone in last place in the South Division. The Bears will make it six in a row if they don't win Saturday.

Baylor is coming off its best offensive outing of the season, but it got its 402 total yards in a 41-24 loss at Missouri, which gained 531 yards. The Bears tied a school record with 29 pass completions.

The only other time the Bears had more than 20 points was in a 24-3 win over Arkansas State in the season opener.

``This is a winnable game for us,'' said Oklahoma State's Rashaun Woods, the Big 12's top receiver (848 yards). ``We feel like we need to win, and it would be a good confidence booster for us. We are not worried about how Baylor is doing. We just want to come out and get a victory.''

Since the Big 12 was formed, Oklahoma State has won five straight games in the series. Three times, including last season, it was a win over Baylor that kept the Cowboys out of a share for the bottom spot in the South Division standings.

In its last home game, Baylor lost 49-10 to No. 5 Texas two weeks ago. Just before that, Texas Tech took a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter before the Bears even had a first down and went on to win 63-19.

Greg Cicero may be Baylor's starting quarterback again, but Steele has said Josh Zachry won't lose the job because of an injury.

Zachry, who took over the starting role from an ineffective Cicero, was knocked out of the Missouri loss with a concussion. Cicero replaced Zachry, completing 25 of 35 passes for a career-high 231 yards and three TDs.

``I won't approach this game any differently than I normally do. If I start, that's fine, and I'll make the most of it,'' Cicero said. ``If not, I'll go in when I'm needed. Most of all, I want a win.''