82% of respondents to my prediction poll from Wednesday said Baylor would win with 62% saying they'd do it by 20 or more. That's 62% of people predicting that Baylor would have the cakewalk many outside the fanbase expected. I was one of those 62% because I didn't give enough credit to Sam Houston State, its athletes, or its coaches.
No matter the final score, 62% of us were 100% wrong, in spirit if not in fact. This was no blowout. The Bearkats withstood our offense's initial punch, took advantage of our inability to score, and then punched back. Hard. They looked every bit the champions they will probably be and deserve respect for an outstanding performance. I misjudged them just like our team did.
If you haven't realized it about me already from twitter, I'm a horrible Sports Kneejerker. Therm calls me out for it all the time because it's really, really bad. My wife thinks it comes from being ridiculously overcompetitive. I can't stand to lose in anything-- checkers, football, or anything in between. I'm sorry. I'm working on it. When I started writing this post, it was full of fire and brimstone, anger and doubt. When I finished, the clock ticked off to a 25-point win.
One way to write this post would be to highlight our team's courage in overcoming adversity. I could talk about how good Demetri Goodson looked in coverage, where he was basically the lone consistent bright spot. Maybe mentionNick Florence's unbelievable 60-yard scamper that Vegas wouldn't even let you bet money would happen. I could also talk exuberantly (and thankfully) about Lache Seastrunk's electric first college TD ever. All of those things are worth talking about and we will another time. I'm not going to right now because I don't want to obfuscate the point: I hope our guys realize how lucky they were to win tonight.
Viewed in isolation, a 48-point offensive outburst coupled by 544 total yards would look extremely impressive. You might forgive the 23 points allowed, if you didn't see how they happened, as the Bearkats playing over their head. You'd be wrong on both counts; we have tremendous work to do in all facets of the game. And that's not me overreacting, either, I think it's demonstrably true. Our defense was shredded for the entire first half by a Bearkat offense full of guys we didn't even recruit. Shawn Bell's little brother threw for a career high in passing yards. Our defensive line, supposedly a BCS-caliber unit, was obliterated early. We didn't take Sam Houston State seriously to start the game and it showed.
Of course, the second half was an entirely different story, as the defense forced four turnovers (and stopped a drive at the 1), allowed only 3 points, and generally looked like what we expected to see. The offense scored 31 points and that same D added 7 more. Those are huge positives we can build on for the future. They led directly to a hard-fought victory. But we can't rewrite history because we like the ending; the first half still happened. Those lessons still exist to be learned. The final score does not tell the true story of this game.
Don't get me wrong, I'm overjoyed that we won. Every victory is critical in what I believe to be the most important year in Baylor Football history. It's also critical right now, I think, that we remember what happened here so we can make sure it does not happen again. However, all that said, SIC 'EM, BEARS!