Sunday, October 27, 2013

Game 7: Baylor 59, Kansas 14

Back to Kansas, for the second time in three weeks!  Last time Baylor played in Lawrence, RG3 had to lead the Bears in an OT win after being down by 21 in the fourth quarter.  For this game, I was hoping it would be a high-scoring romp for Baylor, against a Kansas team that hasn't won a Big 12 game in years.

Zippy didn't want to go back to Kansas this time, and I had 4 tickets, so my dad and my nephew Drew came along.  We left Saturday morning for the now-familiar drive to Kansas.

We got to Lawrence in time to attend the Baylor "tailgate" party.  Not really at a tailgate, but rather a catered affair on the roof of a hotel a couple blocks from the stadium.  Here's the view:

It's always fun to run into Baylor friends at these events.  Here's Dale Connally, one of my favorite Baylor professors.  He was director of Baylor Camp when I was there as a camper and a counselor, but he still seems to like me.  I know, I can't believe it either. 

It's always fun to see the game day traditions of the other schools.  The band marched through KU's version of Touchdown Alley, then sang under the stands, I guess their school song.  (By the way, it's "The University of Kansas,"but it's KU.  Why?)  Like K-State, the KU stadium is right on campus.  Even though the new Baylor stadium is across the river, rather than in the heart of campus, it will be nice being walking distance from campus.
We had really good seats for the game.  I waited too late to order tickets through Baylor, so I got on Stubhub and found some on row 12 around midfield.  We enjoyed a great view.  Of course, there were lots of empty seats.  Once Baylor got up 28-0 early in the second quarter, people starting leaving.  After halftime, it started to seem like Baylor fans were in the majority.  Baylor fans know how it feels.  We've been on the losing end of these games plenty of times.

The first kickoff.
Great view of the action.  It was fun, too, watching the Baylor players having fun on the sidelines.
Drew and Elliot wanted to get even closer, moving down to the second row.

A modestly respectable crowd early in the game.
Plenty of empty seats in the third quarter.

Well, they kept us under 70.  My prediction was 63-17.  I almost got the spread right!  I never get tired of seeing the scoreboard with Baylor on top.  We're 7-0; here's hoping for 6 more wins!  Baylor had an unusually slow start tonight, but got rolling after a couple of series.  KU ran the ball a lot.  I suspect future opponents will use that strategy as well.  Our powerful offense can't score if they're not on the field.

It's been fun to be on top.  Now we're ranked 5 in the AP and coaches poll and 6 in the BCS rankings.  We will need to win convincingly in the next 5 games.  We have already beaten 6, 8, 9, and 10 in the current Big 12 standings.  Obviously, these last 5 conference games promise to be tougher than the first 4.  If we can take care of business in the Big 12, and get some help with upsets above us in the national rankings, who knows where Baylor will end up.  Dare we dream of moving up a couple of spots?  Ending the season in the top 2?

No matter where we end up, it's been a fun ride so far.  Elliot and could not have chosen a better season to go to Every Baylor Game!!

Sic 'em!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Baylor Stadium Watch 10/19/13

Saturday's blowout of Iowa State was the last Homecoming game to be played at Floyd Casey.  It was a record crowd that would have more than filled the new stadium.  Start planning now to get your season tickets for next year!  It's not out of the question to expect that every game next year will be a sell out.
 Construction is moving right along on the new home of the Bears!
 My #1 Baylor buddy is excited about the new stadium.  Will he run in the Baylor Line?  March in BUGWB?  Or go to school somewhere else altogether?  Those decisions will be coming much sooner than I like to think about. . . .
 Work has begun on the pedestrian bridge to the stadium.  This is one of the many cool features that will set Baylor Stadium apart.
Baylor posted some cool ariel shots on Facebook.  Here they are, in case you missed them:
This weekend Elliot, Drew, my dad and I will be heading to Lawrence for Baylor's next win.  Some of those guys remember the scare last time (RG3 had to lead a record comeback in the 4th quarter to squeak out a win).  I think they will prove they can play on the road like the can in Waco.  Baylor wins 63-17.

Sic 'em!!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Game 6: Baylor 71, Iowa State 7

Another game at Floyd Casey Stadium, another record-setting blowout!  Baylor fans, we are getting spoiled--and loving it!  Sure, the pollsters put us at 5 or 6, and the computers don't love us, putting us at 8 in the first BCS rankings, but Baylor fans know this is a championship quality team.  There is no team in the country that Baylor couldn't beat.  Every week, more people are coming to realize that.

This was a great night for Baylor football!  The crowd was reported to be the largest ever at which the opponent was not Texas, Texas A&M, or Arkansas.  Given the tiny group of ISU fans present, that tells me this was the largest attendance of Baylor fans ever!  Pretty cool.  It was also reported that students were turned away at the gate--no more student tickets!  Way to go Baylor students!  Love the school spirit!

I loved the recognitions tonight, too.  The 1963 football team was recognized.  They were one of the best ever, finishing at 8-3, and beating LSU in the Bluebonnet Bowl.  Here is a picture of some Baylor greats together.  Legendary Baylor coach Grant Teaff; Don Trull, QB of that 1963 team; and Ian McCaw, Baylor's AD who took over a struggling athletic department in 2003 and under whose leadership Baylor has enjoyed unprecedented success.  Trull is being recognized here for his recent induction to the College Football Hall of Fame.

It was Homecoming, which, of course, accounts for the crowd.  For Homecoming and as a part of the last season at Floyd Casey, there was a card section!  My first year in Chamber was, as I recall, the last year of the card section in the student seating area.  Baylor students from that era will remember looking through the hole reading "This is Bear Country"on the press box across the field.

Here the fans in the south end zone are reading the same, only on the north end zone tarp.  From this perspective it's not too easy to read, but I think these say "Homecoming 2013"and "The Case 1950-2013."  I remember what a logistical challenge it was to get the card out and to get all the fans to cooperate and make this happen.  Kudos to whoever put this together, and the fans who made it work!

So I guess I'm not up on my pop culture.  My sister-in-law was shocked that I didn't know who this singer was.  I was supposed to have been thrilled to hear a live performance from the one, the only, Lorena's own Holly Tucker!!!  Apparently she had a successful run on one of those TV singing competitions.  I would say I can't stand those shows, but to say that I would have to have actually watched on.  So I'll just say I can't stand the promo spots for those shows and leave it at that.  In any case, congratulations Holly, good luck in your music career, and thanks for coming out to support the Bears!

Oh, but what about the game?  Ah, the game.  What a game it was!  Baylor punted on their first drive; that was discouraging.  But then they dominated from start to finish.  This was the best defensive performance Baylor has had all year.  No defensive scores, but 2 interceptions, 5 sacks, a forced fumble, and 174 (!!!) total yards allowed kept this game all in the hands of Baylor.  The offense had plenty of ammo, racking up over 700 yards.  It was a shut out until ISU scored a TD with under a minute left in the game.  But the game didn't end on a down note; Corey Coleman returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown!

This was total dominance by Baylor over a team that lost to Texas Tech by 7 last week, and to Texas by 1 the week before (and if you saw that game, you know ISU really won . . . .).  In fact, although ISU had 4 losses coming in, the largest margin had been by 8.  This 64 point margin was the largest margin of victory ever for Baylor against a conference foe, SWC or Big 12.

This team just keeps on getting better.  I know, like many Baylor fans, I'm feeling greedy, but I would love to see the Bears score 70 on the road next week in Kansas!  And here is the all important scoreboard:

Sic 'em!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wednesday Night Lights

(Warning: no Baylor football content)

 Wednesday night was homecoming at Central Junior High.  This is the only game where Elliot's band plays.  Here he is, leading the drum line.  I'm proud of him and the leadership he has shown in band.
 It was a great night for football, and even though I came just to see Elliot in the band, I got treated to a great football game, too.  Central led 7-6 at halftime, and after a scoreless 3rd quarter they broke out with a big turnover, stripping the ball inside the 10 and running it all the way home for a touchdown.  The visitors answered with a touchdown of their own, but Central stopped their 2 point conversion attempt, preserving their 14-12 lead.  All they needed to do was get a couple of first downs and run the clock, but they fumbled, giving the visitors a short field.  Thankfully Central's defense stood strong, stopping them and winning 14-12.
 Not much has changed in the world of cheerleading.  Most of the cheers I recognized from my school days, and they continually had little or nothing to do with what was happening on the field.

Elliot and his homecoming date got mums for each other.  These are on the small side of what I saw Wednesday night.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Game 5: Baylor 35, Kansas State 25.

When the clock finally ran to 0:00 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium Saturday afternoon, Baylor fans everywhere breathed a huge sigh of relief.  How quickly we have become accustomed to celebrating a win at the end of the first quarter, looking on in delight as our Bears run up record numbers.  Even after Baylor scored a TD to go up by 10 late in the 4th quarter, I wasn't confident the game was in the bag until that clock ran down.  I think the only record set on Saturday was the most important one: Baylor got the win, for the first 5-0 start since 1991.

The boys and I got up early Saturday, leaving the house about 4:45.  Both of them were troopers; we made it to Manhattan with only one quick bathroom and gas stop.  We at lunch at Aggieville, a commercial area adjacent to campus, then took the shuttle to the stadium.  KSU's campus is sprawling, with a funny mix of architecture.  The stadium is about the same size as Floyd Casey, but with a more open, accessible feel.  

One nice feature of the stadium is all this tailgating space, with very easy access to the seats.  I'm sure this is premium parking for donors. There's a lot of it, and lots of these folks tailgate.  I've never been a tailgater, but it does add to the game day experience.

We were definitely in the nosebleed section, amid a sea of purple.  We loudly, enthusiastically cheered for our Bears, but I don't think anyone would say we were too obnoxious.  The fans were, without exception, welcoming, nice, and congratulatory.  The only sour words we heard were reserved for the Wildcats's offensive play calling. . . .  You can see Zippy was worn out.  Although the temperature was mild, in the 70s, the sun felt hot, and Zippy chose to spend the entire game below the stands in the shade.  He didn't see too much of the game, but says he had a good time.

 We were all alone in our section, surrounded by KSU faithful.  There was a smattering of Baylor fans a few rows in front of us, and another handful in the section to our right.  Here you can see the official Baylor section, with, I would estimate, 200-300 Baylor fans.  These seats were in the corner of the endzone, with the video board behind them.  While it would have been fun to celebrate with fellow fans, I'm not sure how much of the game we could have seen from that perspective.  I'm glad we sat where we did.

And of course, this is the most wonderful sight of all!  Even though Baylor has played well the last few years, they have really struggled in Big 12 road games.  To get a road win, with this loud and enthusiastic K-State crowd (4th largest in KSU history), was huge for the Bears.  The season is not going to get any easier.  Even though we'll be favorites to win the next 2 games, against Iowa State in Waco, and at Kansas, this game tells Baylor not to take any game for granted.  

Sic 'em!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Baylor Stadium Watch: 10/5/13

On the way into town for the latest Baylor blowout, we made our usual stop at campus for a peek at the new Baylor Stadium.  It's moving right along and looking good! I didn't take a picture of them, but the pilings for the pedestrian bridge are going in.  

With the buzz the team is generating this year, and the enthusiasm of the fans, I don't anticipate anything less than a sellout every game next year.  I'm thinking that 45,000 seats won't be enough!  

Rumor has it that ESPN representatives were on hand to see the progress this week.  I see a College Game Day in the very near future. . . .  This is going to be a great game-day locale.  It's a great time to be a Bear!

Sic 'em!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Game 4: Baylor 73, West Virginia 42

Another Baylor game, and yet another Baylor blowout!  At every game this year, Baylor has set or matched records for scoring and offensive yards.  Every week, we're told, "Wait until Baylor plays somebody. . . ."  Well this somebody beat preseason Big 12 favorite and then #11 Oklahoma State last week, and they came to town and Baylor owned them from the first series.  56-14----at halftime!  I know I am looking through green and gold colored glasses, but I don't think there's a team in the country that Baylor can't beat!  

The weather was perfect for football!  Jackets and hoodies were called for, but no rain gear.  The team's shiny gold helmets looked awesome under the lights.  And I talked Zippy into coming along this week. We started off with the Bear Foundation dinner in the south end zone.  See that cookie in front of Elliot?  That's mine.  His dinner didn't come with a cookie, so he commandeered mine.  I did make him split it with Zippy.

I don't know why this goofy boy objects to having his picture taken.  He's a cute kid, trust me.  On this night he wavered between, "Do I have to go?" to "I want to come to more games" to "How much longer until we leave" to having a great time goofing around with his cousins.  Big thanks to Drew and Evan for keeping him entertained.

I never do get tired of this sight: the scoreboard with Baylor on top.  This final looks much closer than the game actually was.  Like I said, it was over when Baylor was up 56-14 at the half.  Or maybe it was over when Baylor was up 28-7 after less than 11 minutes of the game.  WVU scored some garbage touchdowns off some turnovers when our backups were in (still too much scoring on that side of the ball, but it didn't make any difference.)  In any case, Baylor was completely dominant the entire time.  Look out, Kansas State!  I would love to see another 70 point game!

Zippy spend an unusual amount of time with his hoodie tied all the way up.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Singletary and the spread offense

At this weekend's game, Baylor will be honoring Mike Singletary as a Baylor football legend.  With all due respect to RG3 and Art Briles's other great players, Singlerary may be one of the greatest ever to play at Baylor.  He had a great career with Chicago after leaving Baylor, and is still coaching in the NFL.  He had a huge role at Baylor, particularly on Baylor's 1980 SWC Champion team.  But in the history of the game of college football, one of his most pivotal games is one that still hurts for Baylor fans.

I just finished reading Football Revolution: The Rise of the Spread Offense and How It Transformed College Football by Bart Wright. I recommend it for an interesting historical look at how college football has changed. Of particular interest to Baylor fans is Wright's account of the 1980 game versus San Jose State in Waco.

SJSU's head coach Jack Elway (John's father) and his offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson were pioneers of the spread offense. The Bears were 7-0, ranked 10th in the nation, and picked to beat visiting San Jose State by 20 1/2. Elway and Erickson's offensive schemes effectively took Singletary, who was used to defending the wishbone and option offenses in the Southwest Conference, out of the game.

Years later Singletary reflected, "I guess it's kind of cool to think back on it as the first time people realized what the spread could do. I didn't think it was very cool at the time; it was just so weird. . . . It was just so different to play against that kind of football." Baylor coach Grant Teaff called their spread offense "extremely tough to stop." Elway called that Baylor win "the greatest win in my 28 years of coaching."

I would much rather this game be remembered as one more victory in Baylor's undefeated season, at the end of which they play for a national title. Instead, we were victim of a rising tide of change in the game, by Wright's account a pivotal point in the rise of the spread offense. To be sure, it was a great season (the last time we won an outright conference championship), it's just too bad we were on the losing side of the tide of history that day.

Other Baylor notes in the book: 
--Art Briles gets a brief mention as a "Leach disciple" who continues to successfully run the spread offense.
--Kevin Steele is quoted extensively and favorably, leading me to think, "Surely this is a different Kevin Steele!" But Wright confirmed that it's the same guy, mentioning Steele's "ill-fated stint as head coach at Baylor." He goes on to call Steele "one of the college game's most high-profile defensive coordinators at Florida State, Alabama, and Clemson." I wonder if he ever whispers in the offensive coordinator's ear, "Don't take a knee! Go for it! We have to create an attitude!"

Oh, by the way, I think Baylor's defense will make Singletary proud on Saturday, and Baylor's spread offense will run up the score once again.  Baylor 63, West Virginia 24. 

Sic 'em!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Counting chickens 2

Here I go again, counting chickens.  Baylor had another bye week before starting Big 12 play, so I
looked around the league to see how we might stack up against the upcoming competition.

10/5: West Virginia.  3-2, 1-1.  W
After they were shut out by Maryland, I thought WVU must be terrible.  But then they beat an OSU team that I thought was pretty good.  I wasn't the only one, by the way; OSU was ranked #11 in the AP poll.  Is WVU that good?  Is OSU that bad?  Hard to say.  I still say Baylor gets a solid win in Waco next week.

10/12: Kansas State.  2-2, 0-1.  W
KSU was off Saturday, but last week they had a bad loss to a bad Texas team.  Can Baylor get their first win ever in Manhattan?  I think so.

10/19: Iowa State.  1-2, 0-0.  W
After being tied with Tulsa at halftime Thursday night, ISU put together their first win of the season.  I still say Baylor should win this one easily.

10/26: Kansas.  2-1, 0-0.  W
KU had to fight hard for a narrow win over Louisiana Tech last week, kicking a 52 yard field goal as time ran out.  Baylor will win this one handily.

11/7: Oklahoma.  4-0, 1-0.  W
Oklahoma got a huge win, beating Notre Dame solidly at South Bend.  I see the most likely scenario being both Baylor and OU undefeated when they meet for this Thursday night game in Waco.  Just as they did last year for KSU, Baylor will squash OU's national title hopes at this game.

11/16: Texas Tech.  4-0, 1-0.  W
They're in the top 25, but I'm not buying the Raiders this year.  The quarterbacks have been too unpredictable and inconsistent.  They'll get a couple more Big 12 wins to become bowl eligible, but they won't beat Baylor.

11/23: Oklahoma State.  3-1, 0-1.  W
This game was supposed to have Big 12 title implications.  It still might, but that was brought into question by OSU's loss to WVU.  By the time Baylor goes to Stillwater, they'll be firmly in the race for their first Big 12 title.

11/30: TCU.  2-2, 0-1.  W
They finally got their act together in the second half against SMU.  By the time they play Baylor, Casey Pachall might be back in action, which may or may not help the Frogs.  Their team has looked shaky this year.  Baylor will get a taste of revenge for the embarrassing loss in Waco last season.

12/7: Texas.  2-2, 1-0.  W
The Horns bounced back from the humiliating loss at BYU by beating KSU in Austin.  Still, they are a shadow of their former powerhouse self.  This final game at Floyd Casey Stadium will have Baylor playing for a BCS bowl bid, and Texas hoping to get one last win for bowl eligibilty.

Several teams in the Big 12 are struggling this year; that's no surprise.  So far, it looks like the final records will have a couple teams at the top, namely Baylor with no losses and OU with one loss (Baylor).  KU and ISU will share the basement.  And the middle will be full of 5-4 and 4-5 teams.

There's a lot of football to be played.  That goes without saying.  But I think Baylor has great chance to win every one of these games.  Big 12 champs!  It could happen!

Sic 'em!