Sunday, November 24, 2013

Game 10: Baylor 17, Oklahoma State 49

Art Briles has brought Baylor football to heights rarely, if ever, experienced.  In my living memory, seasons of 9 wins or more have been few and far between.  In 1980, the last time Baylor won a conference championship, Baylor ended the regular season 10-1, then lost in the Cotton Bowl.  In 1985 and 1986, the Bears ended the regular season at 8-3 each year, then won bowl games in each post season.  In 2011, RG3's Heisman year, he and Briles led Baylor to a 9-3 regular season record, then a huge win in the Alamo Bowl, to give Baylor its first 10-win season since 1980.

At Hideaway Pizza
So why does it sting so bad to lose our 10th game?  The only explanation is that Briles has raised expectations, given Baylor fans a whole new outlook, and injected new life and hope into this program.  So I have to remind myself, before Saturday's game at Oklahoma State, Baylor was 9-0!  For the first time ever!  That's pretty incredible.  I wish things would have turned out differently for Baylor, and for the team.  They have worked hard, have inspired pride in Baylor among the fans, and have forced doubters around the country to take Baylor seriously.

Once again, Zippy didn't want to make the road trip to Stillwater, so Uncle Mark was happy to use Zippy's ticket.  After Mark watched Drew's basketball team win an exciting overtime game, we left from Fort Worth about noon, arriving in Stillwater to enjoy Oklahoma's best pizza at Hideaway Pizza.  It lived up to expectations.  Of course we had to walk over to see Eskimo Joe's.  I'm not sure why this is such a popular place, but an OSU alumnus we met said their t-shirt is the 3rd best-selling shirt in the world, behind 2 Hard Rock Cafe shirts.

Feeling happy and confident before kickoff.
It was a cold night in Stillwater, and we came prepared, but maybe not enough.  Temperatures were at or below freezing the whole game.  I'm not sure any of us could feel our toes by the time halftime rolled around.  Maybe the cold weather was a factor in the game, but it was just as cold for the Cowboys as for the Bears.  Baylor's mishaps and poor play can't really be explained by anything.  I wanted to put an announcement on the broadcast: "Hey all you watching on TV who haven't seen Baylor play before tonight: This is NOT the Baylor team that has won 9 games!  I promise they are WAY better than this!"

I don't know that they would have made a difference in this game, as well as OSU was playing, but Baylor's offense clearly missed the presence of Tevin Reese and Lache Seastrunk, their leading receiver and running back.  That said, the backups have played spectacularly in the last 2 games.  On this night, they were ineffective.  Petty struggled to even complete a pass.  On defense, our pass coverage was horrible against a team that has passed very little this season.  And we couldn't get a turnover for anything.

Even though they were looking bad, Baylor only trailed 14-3 at the half.  I had high hopes that Art would work some magic in the locker room, and the team would rally in the second half.  Alas, OSU scored TDs on their first 2 possessions in the second half, effectively putting the game out of reach.

We did enjoy the game-day experience at OSU.  The stadium is truly on campus.  Tailgating tents were set up on the lawns of the surrounding university buildings, and plenty of restaurants border campus in walking distance to the stadium.  Elliot observed that he saw a lot more people drinking alcohol and smoking that he sees at Baylor games.  Unfortunately, the Baylor fans sitting behind us had clearly been drinking, and liberally and loudly used the f-word in their cheering and conversing.  Elliot said he hopes the nice OSU fans sitting next to him didn't think all Baylor fans were like that.

OSU must love Boone Pickens, and for good reason.  He has single-handedly funded the remodeling and expansion of the stadium and football facilities, as well as the resurgence of OSU football in recent years.  It's a nice stadium and a fun place to watch a game.


Some random play.
Even as the Bears lick their wounds after this loss, and give up hopes of playing for a national title, I hope they will remember that if they win out, they will be Big 12 co-champions at worst.  At best, Baylor can win out, and if OU can beat OSU in Stillwater (no easy feat), Baylor would be Big 12 champs outright!  Now, Beat TCU!!  Beat Texas!! And Boomer Sooner!!

Sic 'em!!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Game 9: Baylor 63, Texas Tech 34

The Texas Farm Bureau Shootout has quickly become a tradition of shootouts!  This one didn't end up being as close as recent games in this series, but a shootout it was.  Baylor was up by 1 at the end of the first quarter, and up by 8 at the half.  By that time, even though it was close, the momentum was in Baylor's favor, and the second half was all Baylor.
Credit goes to Tech, for coming out guns blazing, scoring TDs on their first 3 drives, taking a 14-0 lead, then after Baylor finally scored a TD, a 20-7 lead.  But when Baylor's Levi Norwoord ran a punt back for a touchdown, then Baylor scored a TD late in the 2nd quarter to go up 35-27, it was over for Tech.  More credit goes to the Bears, who played without their top receiver and 2 top running backs, and who didn't let Tech's fast, dominating start intimidate them.  As Briles told the team after the game, they proved tonight that they are a great team.

We sat way up in the highest section.  We weren't in the highest row, but it was high.  The best part about that is that when you sit that high, you get a nice view of the band's formations.  These were in the pregame show.  Their halftime tribute the armed forces was cool, as they marched in the shapes of a tank, a ship, a submarine, and jets, complete with contrails!  They are a fun band to watch, inspiring my budding percussionist to dream about marching.

Sitting up high, you definitely are in a position to see plays develop, and with the enormous screen hanging in front of you, you can catch a close up of the action there.  Personally, I'd rather sit up high than in those field-level boxes.  It seems like there you would have a perfect view of the legs of people on the sidelines, and very little view of the field of play . . . .
Besides the final score, the best part of the night was catching up with my pledge brothers John and Pat and their wives.  It's hard to believe it was nearly a quarter of a century ago that we met at Baylor!
Elliot, my best Baylor fan buddy, and I have made it to all 9 games.  Three regular season games to go, then a bowl game!  But first, we have to knock of Oklahoma State in Stillwater next week.
Since AT&T Stadium doesn't have a traditional scoreboard like most stadiums have, I couldn't get a proper shot of the final score.  Trust me, this shows the final, 63-34.  (If anyone has a better scoreboard picture, e-mail me!)

Sic 'em!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hey, it's basketball season!

Still floating on the excitement of the huge football win over OU on Thursday night, Elliot and I joined Mom and Dad at the American Airlines Center for the first men's basketball game.  Baylor, coming off their NIT championship season, entered the season ranked #25.  For their first game, they took on former Big 12 foe Colorado (RV).
Elliot was happy to be at the game, but not happy to have his picture taken.  Mom thought it was still breast cancer awareness month, so she wore pink instead of Baylor colors.
 Heslip was pretty hot from the 3-point line at this game, shooting 4 for 6.  Two seasons ago, he really made his mark, shooting .455 from the 3-point line.  Last season saw a drop off, at .386.  After 2 games, he's shooting .563.  If he can keep that up, this will be a great season for him and the Bears!
I like what I saw against Colorado.  We have some important returning players: Heslip, Cory Jefferson, Isaiah Austin, Rico Gathers.  Junior college transfer Kenny Chery looks like he's going to be a great fit at point guard.  I don't remember Taurean Prince playing much last year, but I think he'll be a bonus from the bench.

Not too many people witnessed this game first-hand.  I think a lot of basketball fans will be watching the Bears this season, as they make a run on the Big 12 and, I believe, find their way into the NCAA tournament.
And, of course, we can't leave without singing That Good Ol' Baylor Line!

Sic 'em!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Game 8: Baylor 41, Oklahoma 12

Before the game. Glen is confident OU is #1.
Wow!  In my 30-something years of going to Baylor football games, I don't think I've ever seen a game as highly anticipated, a crowd as hyped, and a win as important as Baylor's 41-12 win over Oklahoma last night!  The blackout was as black as could be, and the Sooner fans in attendance went home shocked, disappointed, and perhaps a little more respectful of the emergent Baylor Bears.

We weren't able to leave Fort Worth until after school, so we didn't get there in time for much pregame activity.  But when we did arrive at our seats, I notice that more than half an hour before kickoff the student section was packed!  The tarpless endzone was filling up fast, and the atmosphere was electric!

Singing That Good Ol' Baylor Line. 

Rarely, if ever, have I seen the east stands this full.  The black looked pretty cool.  Notice the yellow Baylor line.  After Baylor's first TD, they took off their yellow jerseys, waved them like a rally towel, and stayed black the rest of the night.  Nice touch.
Is my nephew really old enough to have a girlfriend?  'Fraid so.

Just a random play, watching Bell try to find a man open, which he didn't very often.  He was 15/35 with 2 interceptions.  Lots of pressure all night.

Nobody open.  Tries to run. Doesn't get far. The story of Bell's night.

The tarpless south end zone!  Full of people in black shirts!  Stunning!

Not many people left early from this one!

It's a beautiful thing.  Another win.  A school-record win streak.  The first time ever to 8-0.
Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

Still friends after the game.  And Glen still thinks OU is number one.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Checking out the competition, again: TCU v. WVU

Baylor was off Saturday, getting ready for the biggest game of the year (so far) against Oklahoma on Thursday.  So when Kelly's dad offered his tickets to the TCU game, Elliot and I took him up on it.  Zippy was not interested in going, of course.  Elliot dusted off his TCU cap and t-shirt, invited his friend Levi, and we headed over to Amon Carter Stadium for the showdown with West Virginia.  Both of these teams were sitting on 1-4, 3-5 records and needed this win to remain bowl eligible.  TCU was picked to win by 14, but I figured it might be closer than that.

Anyone who was hoping for a close game was not disappointed!  TCU came out strong, for a change, and led 17-3 in the second quarter.  It was no blowout, yet, but TCU looked like the better team, no question.  However, WVU came back to score to make it 17-10 at the half.  After a scoreless 3rd quarter, WVU scored on 3 consecutive possessions to take a 27-17 lead.  With 8 minutes left, many TCU fans headed to the parking lot.

But the Frogs weren't done!  They scored 10 quick points to tie it up and go into overtime.  Unfortunately for them, they made a mess of their OT possession and missed a 62 yard field goal attempt.  WVU came back to score an easy FG for the win.  A great game, start to finish, if you like football drama, but not so great if you like great football.  Each team threw 2 interceptions, and TCU coughed up 2 fumbles, which made the difference in WVU's fourth quarter scoring streak.  WVU showed some signs of the team that upset OSU in September, but TCU looked nothing like the team many thought would be in the mix for a Big 12 championship.  Not only are they out of the Big 12 championship conversation, they may not qualify for a bowl this year.
I don't want to rag on the TCU fans too much, but they have not been showing up for the games this year.  The above picture is at the opening kickoff.  Lots of empty seats.
This picture is a few minutes before the end of the second quarter.  A few more students showed up, and the upper deck is a little bit fuller, but it's still pretty empty.  A few notes: the weather was perfect, so they can't use heat or rain as an excuse this time.  I was a little chilly on the shady side of the stadium.  Sitting in the sun must have been nice.  Besides, as I noted, this game was crucial for TCU, as they are playing for bowl eligibility now.
The cancer awareness halftime show was pretty cool.
This girl had the best costume of all.  The pink outfit would have looked sort of freaky without the bubble.  She rolled around on the field like a gerbil.
As cool as the Baylor card section is, these banners that cover a whole section have the advantage of being legible, easier to deploy, and not requiring 100% participation of the crowd.  However, if you're under it, you miss any football action that might be going on at the time.  By the way, notice the empty stands here in the fourth quarter.
The comeback begins!  If you look carefully, you can see the football about to be caught in the back of the end zone.  This TD brought TCU within 3.
Here is TCU kicking the tying 45-yard field goal to take the game into overtime.  Taking good action pictures from the upper deck with a point-and-shoot digital camera isn't all that easy, but the way.  (I'm not saying these are good, I'm just making excuses for my photography!)
And here's WVU's easy 34-yard field goal for the win in overtime.  Sorry, Frogs.
30-27.  A great comeback, and a terrible overtime loss.  The scoreboard reminder of TCU's last remaining home game should also remind TCU fans that they have little chance of another home Big 12 win this season.  If Baylor beats TCU on November 30, as I expect they will by a large margin, that will mean that in 2 seasons in the Big 12, their only home Big 12 win is this season's win over a hapless Kansas team in the middle of their streak of 20-something Big 12 losses.  Welcome to Big 12 football, TCU!