You can't blackout 1-21
That was the largest sign the Sooners could muster at last night's game, with each word being on a separate sign held by four people. After the second quarter, the sign made zero appearances. By the fourth, those four Sooner fans and the few thousand others that were at the game (easily less than 10% of the crowd, I'd wager) were streaming towards the exits as the latest rout of a Baylor team was on and the game turned festive. Jubilant Baylor fans, clad in black and unable to contain their excitement any more, started the wave. That questionable decision aside, I was absolutely blown away by the Blackout. Let's talk for a moment about that, shall we?
An Unqualified Success
My crew (consisting of the ever-cuddly Mattisbear, fellow commenter Ursus Baylorus, and my father) arrived in Waco from north Houston at about 3:00. After joining Highway 6 from 164 south of town, split off on Loop 340 through Bellmead to take I-35 south into town. If you haven't taken the time to drive the I-35 south approach to Baylor, do it. It afford one of the more spectacular views of Baylor Stadium. We were not disappointed, but I digress. We arrived on campus to pick up my father's online order and meet my brother, who was coming up from Austin. The bookstore was buzzing with people picking up their Blackout gear, and those that weren't were already wearing theirs. With that errand done, we headed to the stadium and to DFank_BU's tailgate. The tailgating area was, again, blacked out. Everyone you saw was in black, and the place was PACKED. Fank's tailgate is right by the Vitek's trailer, and the line for Gut Paks was up into Touchdown Alley. It was glorious. I'm sure Colby will do a Tailgate Report, but I'll just say this: the atmosphere was electric outside of the stadium...
…But it had nothing on the electricity INSIDE The Case. We entered The Case with about 45 minutes until kickoff, and the stands were already about 70% full. The student section was packed to the brim, with every single person in black. The west side was filling in quickly also. No one wanted to be late to their seat for this game. If your hat didn't have an OU on it, you were in black. I've never seen anything like it. There is no other way to describe it. This was an outstanding effort by Baylor to promote the Blackout to their fans and get them involved. The thing took on a life of its own, with fans creating hashtags, hype videos and new social media avatars. The response was awe-inspiring. They've got a month to come up with something for the UT game to top it. I can't wait to see what they do next.
Over the past few years, there have been moments that have signified turning points for this Baylor team. Some of these are hard to pinpoint, and may be debatable. OU 2011 was Robert Griffin III's Heisman moment and served as the statement game that this team was "scrubby little Baylor" no more. I can't pinpoint an exact moment, but the first half of 2012 was this team's statement that the offense has arrived and is more than one individual. Though the turning point may have come a few weeks before, Kansas State 2012 signaled the arrival of the Baylor Defense. Since that game (with the minor exception of Texas Tech 2012), the defense has been stout, and is quieting its critics day by day. This team has proven, time and again, that it is a force in the Big 12, and to ignore them is to court destruction. Last night's game signaled the arrival of what I consider to be the final, missing component; an aspect to this team that many wondered when it would show up.
Last night signaled the arrival of Baylor Nation.
Yes, it's been growing all season, and there may even be an argument to be made that Iowa State was the fan base's arrival party. But that game was Homecoming; this game, for many reasons, is where the Baylor fan base proved that Old Baylor is dead; long live New Baylor. Here are my reasons why this game signals a turning point and shows us that Baylor Nation is now here to stay.
First: The success of the Blackout. Everybody bought in. It was incredible to see that sea of black. I said on the podcast that I'd seen blackouts before and they just weren't as eye-popping as whiteouts or red-outs or whatever. Boy, was I wrong. This was an amazing sight. It was easy to spot the "Fringe Monster" in the crowd, even though it wasn't on the front row, because it stuck out like a sore thumb with it's yellow fringe gesticulating wildly. Everyone was in black.
Second: 50,537, good for fourth on the all-time attendance list at The Case. We didn't break the record. But keep this fact in mind: This game was on a Thursday night. Many, many people drove in for this game, watched it, and then turned around and drove out. They pulled the tarp for a Thursday night football game. Just let that thought percolate for a moment. Okay, read on.
Third: Even more than the fun of the blackout was the attitude of the crowd. Nobody sat down during the first quarter at all. Every single person in the stadium was on their feet. When they did finally sit, it was for injury or television commercial. When the game resumed, they got back to their feet. The whole game. If the ball was in play, everyone was standing. I don't know how many times I've heard people complaining about people sitting… But no more. By the end of the game, my knees ached so good.
Fourth: This crowd was rowdy. Long known for only getting on their feet and making noise on big third downs, this crowd was on their feet and making noise. If the defense was on the field, the fans were screaming. Regardless of whether it was first down or fourth, the fans were loud. It was easily the loudest I've ever heard The Case. I have no voice this morning, and my ears were still ringing when I woke up this morning.
Finally: The crowd stayed the whole game. As evidenced by the massive traffic jam exiting the stadium, nearly everyone that wasn't in crimson or cream didn't leave the stadium until the final whistle blew. The traffic jam provided us the opportunity to hear John Morris play several John Morris clips on the post game show. It was entertaining. But, a reminder to Baylor Nation leaving the stadium: The Zipper Rule is in effect. Always remember this. And be courteous to your fellow Bears. One dude in a BMW cut me off at one point, and instead of just letting him in, it got under my skin. It wasn't one of my finer moments. Sir, if you are an ODB reader, I apologize. I will take my own advice going forward, and drive more friendly and courteous when leaving the stadium. But I digress.
This crowd was amazing, and it was a blast. Soak it up for a day or two, Baylor Nation. Enjoy it. Bask in it. Curl up on the couch with it. Then steel yourself for the next challenge, because the hardest game on the schedule is the very next one, and the team needs your support. Go buy your tickets for the Texas Tech game at Jerry World. In fact, go ahead and do that now, then you can return to basking in the afterglow of last night's victory. There is more work to be done. Let's do our part.
Let's stay turnt up.