Last night's game was incredible to watch as a fan of Baylor football for many reasons. Ending several noteworthy streaks for Tech was great, as was winning over them for the first time in a long time, but the best part was seeing how the team reacted to losing its best player after the first half. With the exception of our woeful special teams, RGIII's relegation to the sidelines for the second half galvanized the entire team and forced them to elevate their play to compensate for his loss.
It would have been very easy for the defense especially to react negatively to the loss; Tech gained a lot of momentum going into the half and seemed to be almost unstoppable for our defense. You could see on the sidelines, however, that instead of getting down about what happened, the defense became more intense, more focused, and more convinced that they were going to pick up the slack.
As fate would have it, there really was no slack to pick up offensively. Nick Florence, redshirted through the first 42 quarters of the season, came in off the bench, burned his redshirt (voluntarily, according to Briles in his post-game interview), and after his first drive stalled, delivered two gorgeous touchdown passes and several key runs that helped guide his team to victory.
Terrance Ganaway apparently also took Griffin's absence as a challenge, and he answered that challenge in historic fashion. His 42 carries set a new school record and allowed him to become the first back in Baylor history to go over 200 yards twice in the same career, much less the same season. He ended up with over 250 of Baylor's 360 rushing yards on the day, literally carrying the team on his back in the late third and fourth quarters. To come from where he started with Baylor, as an overweight Houston transfer nobody expected to contribute much at all, to where he is now, a legitimate power back who can dominate games, is nothing short of incredible. I don't know of anyone that predicted it.
Baylor now has 8 wins on the season for the first time since 1991 and still has a legitimate chance to win 10 games for only the second time in its history. The next step is obviously a win against UT this weekend in Waco, where Baylor is undefeated on the season and boasts an offense that might very well be the best in the country. Bring it, Texas.
But on to the links!
- BaylorBears.com has their recap of the game up with pictures, statistics, and video from Cowboys Stadium. Baylor has come a long way in its web presence, and I suggest you take a look. Good stuff there.
- I don't normally look to them for sports news, but ABC News has a good recap of the game available for those who didn't get to see it. Because they are affiliated, I'll go ahead and put the ESPN recap here, as well.
- According to Ralph Drusso on Twitter, Baylor jumped two spots in the AP Poll to 19th after last night's win. The BCS rankings will be released later in the day, but since only one team ranked above us in the BCS lost (Clemson at 17), I predict we'll take their place and only move one spot. For whatever it is worth, that AP poll has LSU and Alabama as the unanimous 1-2.
- With the end of most teams' regular seasons yesterday, Black Sunday in the CFB coaching ranks has begun. Victims already include Larry Porter at Memphis, Paul Wulff at Washington State, and obviously Houston Nutt at Ole Miss. Turner Gill at Kansas and Rick Neuheisel at UCLA are expected to join them soon, and Ron Zook at Illinois might, as well. Illinois started 6-0 this season and finished 0-6. That's not easy to do.
- STLToday.com has a Big XII roundup from this past weekend up that includes a preview of how the Big XII bowls may shake out. They seem to believe that the Insight or Holiday Bowls are our most likely landing places depending on our game against Texas this weekend.
- David Ubben from ESPN's Big XII blog says Robert Griffin III probably suffered a concussion last night (no surprise there) and will be reevaluated today in Waco. Briles said after the game that holding Griffin out was strictly precautionary, so I would expect that he will sit out Monday (if they practice) and then go through the rest of the week normally.
- Richard Justice posted a nice little article about the effect Art Briles has had on two downtrodden programs, Baylor and Houston, and how much both owe him for how far they've come.
- Baylor Photography posted pictures from last night's game on their facebook page. I thought the crowd was outstanding on Baylor's side. Definitely smaller than Tech's, but not as big of a difference as two years ago in the same venue. I told Prashanth that I thought it was about 55/45 Tech, and I stand by that. The announced attendance at the game was just over 51,000, which is slightly disappointing for both teams.
- ESPN's Tim McMahon was at the game last night and posted his new Texas state CFB rankings afterward. He has Houston in the lead, probably because they are undefeated. Does anyone NOT think Baylor would be undefeated with that schedule?
- Steve Brischke of Baylor Scout posted his thoughts from the game last night, including what is now being referred to as "jersey-gate." Apparently several Tech players changed jerseys throughout the game last night, including changing their numbers, and that was one of the things responsible for the flea-flicker touchdown pass. One of Tech's backup QBs changed jerseys to a WR number, checked into the game, and then threw the TD pass before Baylor realized who he really was. It's only legal to change jerseys like that if your original jersey was damaged to the point that the number is unreadable, so the claim is that Tech players intentionally damaged their jerseys. I have no idea if that is true or not.
- Ashley Hodge of Baylor 247Sports also posted thoughts about the game, noting particularly Baylor's perfect November record (when was the last time we could say that?), for those that prefer one site over the other. I love both, and I won't choose!
- In non-football news, Baylor's #1-ranked WBB team travels to Tennessee today to play the #6-ranked Lady Volunteers at 1 CST. This is the second of three top-ten teams Baylor will play in non-conference this season, which is kind of incredible. You can follow the game online or on the radio (if you are in Waco). OH. OR ON ESPN/ESPN2 DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU LIVE. The official site posted a preview of the game with statistics for all to read and enjoy.
- I'm sure there will be several articles written from different places today about the Heisman race and how yesterday's action affected what will happen. I've already seen several tweets about RGIII's chances after his injury, and I'm sure I will see many, many more. The more knowledgeable and rational observers seem to realize that RGIII's contributions to this team this season are not diminished by being injured, but others say that Nick Florence's ability to come in and do what he did shows that it is the system, not the QB. We will refer to the latter as "The Stupids."