After the loss to OU, I debated whether or not I was going to the K-State game. My wife's family was coming into town, meaning that I'd have to make the trip alone. I ended up making the decision to go, and my brother drove up from Austin to join me for the game. As I thought about the game on Friday morning, I had a good feeling. Not necessarily that we were going to win, but just a good feeling. It was the same feeling that I had before the OU game last year. Then the Bears provided me with the most unforgettable night of college football that I've ever witnessed in person. Here are five of my favorite moments from Baylor's demolition of K-State on Saturday.
5. The Bears' Entrance.
Instead of charging through the machine-generated smoke to the sound of Seven Nation Army, the Bears slowly made their way out of the tunnel behind injured comrade Rodney Chadwick. It was a show of solidarity that made its impact. I immediately could tell that there was something different in the team. There was no swagger; there was no hype. Yet there was an intensity in that group as they came onto field, like they knew what they were about to do, and nothing could stop them. It sent chills down my spine.
4. The Double Reverse/Sack.
K-State intercepted the ball at the 1, then scored, then held us to a 50-yard field goal. With just under 8 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, K-State had the ball back and we had a 14 point lead. I wasn't really sure who had the momentum, but the defense answered that question on the very next play. K-State came out on first down with a double reverse, trying to catch the defense going in the wrong direction. Eddie Lackey saw it the entire way. Instead of giving chase, he sprinted into the backfield and dropped K-State's wide receiver with an excellent open field tackle for an 11-yard loss. The next play, Lackey made another good stop on a scrambling Klein, setting up a 3rd-and-16. Bennett showed blitz but only rushed the front four, dropping the LBs into coverage. Chris McAllister broke through the offensive line to sack Klein for an 8-yard loss. Baylor showed that there had been no momentum shift. The defense remained dominant. It was great to see Lackey's play in the backfield because it got the crowd fired right back up and showed us that there wasn't going to be another late-game collapse. But seeing the D-line getting pressure and making the sack on a 3rd-and-long sent us into the stratosphere. It was just unbelievable.
3. Jump Around!
My new favorite tradition and my new favorite song. Seeing the players jumping along against Kansas was something fun to watch; seeing the entire sideline jumping in the second half against K-State was electrifying. Everybody got into it. It's also the metaphor for the crowd the entire game. It wasn't the biggest crowd that The Case has ever seen. Heck, it wasn't even the biggest crowd this season. But that was, by far, the most electrified, excited crowd that I've ever been a part of. There was tension in the air at the start of the second half, but the moment Sam Holl(!!!!) intercepted that pass, the entire crowd jumped to their feet and didn't sit down for the rest of the game. They were loud when they needed to be, quiet when it was appropriate, and fed off of the team's excitement when the jumping began. I wasn't in attendance at the OU game last year, but I can safely say that it was the most electrified atmosphere I've ever experienced at a football game. I don't have the words to adequately describe it, but even now, two days later, I still have that sense of excitement and anticipation from the game. It's something I will never forget as long as I live. And it spawned this, which may or may not have caused my eyes to well up seeing it in person (it totally did):
2. Lache Freed.
80 yards. One play. Five defenders surround him with a chance to make a play, and Lache Seastrunk outruns them all. I'm not sure what more there is to say on this that hasn't been said already. It was amazing to watch in person. He is SO fast. The crowd went from excitement to pandemonium in less than 10 seconds. He is going to be a very special player. He's going to mature in the future and work the kinks out of his game. Then he's going to be a Heisman contender.
1. Fourth and Goal.
The fourth and goal stop was the icing on the cake for the defense in this game. They played their hearts out the entire night, and epitomized the "bend but don't break" concept of the Phil Bennett defense. It came at the end of an amazing drive from a defensive standpoint. We weren't upset that they allowed K-State to convert multiple fourth down plays on the drive. The defense kept the ball in bounds and the clock running. By the time the defense sprinted off the field, leaving a bewildered Klein to figure out what just happened to him, half of fourth quarter had expired. But that stop was something else to witness in person. The ball was on like the 8-inch line, and Klein usually doesn't miss from that distance. But the Bears held him, and they knew it. They sprinted off the field having capped an unbelievable performance, one in which the entire defense played to its potential and got the job done. I've never been so proud of a defensive unit as I was on Saturday night. They dominated K-State for nearly the entire game, and provided some amazing memories of Baylor football that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.