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Matt Rhule Has to Beat TCU

In the most important game of the young Matt Rhule Era, Baylor cannot fail.

Baylor v TCU Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

It’s Baylor versus TCU. What more needs to be said?

It’s 119 years of battles. It’s one of the oldest, most played, and most dead even rivalry games in the country. It’s 2 small, private, Christian universities only an hour and a half apart but fundamentally different enough to drive a deep, ever-present hatred in all involved. It’s burned down campuses. It’s players fighting players. It’s coaches fighting players. It’s coaches fighting fans. It’s 0-0 ties. It’s double OT punt-fests in frozen monsoons. It’s 61-58. It’s The Revivalry and it’s here again.

The 2018 edition is something different from all the others. It’s a pivotal moment in the history of Baylor Football.

Just 4 years after both schools came in to the game undefeated and ranked in the Top 10 to play one of the greatest games we’ve ever seen, Baylor and TCU come in to McLane stadium with a combined 9-11 record. Baylor at 5-5 with 2 games left (TCU, Texas Tech) needs to win 1 to secure a bowl game berth 1 year after going 1-11. TCU needs to win both of its remaining games (@Baylor, Oklahoma State) in order to avoid missing a bowl game for the first time in 5 years. The Baylor Bears, and more importantly Matt Rhule, have to win this game.

Baylor has had an up and down season in just about every way. The 5-5 record indicates as much. We’ve had some convincing if not quite dominant wins, blowout losses, comebacks for the ages, and heartbreakers at the final whistle. We’ve had stellar crowds and we’ve had empty stadiums. We’ve had excellent coaching decisions and we’ve looked like we couldn’t control ourselves or get out of our own way. We’ve had hope and we’ve been hopeless. We contain multitudes. But following the Homecoming win and the highway robbery of what might have been a win at Iowa State it feels like things are picking up and momentum is building. The team has already quintupled last season’s win total and that will certainly help make great strides on the recruiting trail. Matt Rhule is starting to make believers and trusters of the process out of doubters but we can’t lose to TCU. We just can’t.

Not at home.

Not during a blackout.

Not wearing a Sailor Bear helmet.

Not on Senior Day.

Not with a bowl game on the line.

Not with the opportunity to kick TCU in to the pit of misery and make them miss a bowl game for the first time since 2013.

This is the first truly big game of the Matt Rhule era. This is his first time on a Baylor sideline with stakes this high. Time to show us what you got for real. The crowd is going to be bananas for this game - Matt Rhule bought himself that trust with a great win over a good team on Homecoming - but he can lose that energy again with a second poor performance in The Revivalry. Mental breakdowns cost us the Iowa State game, everything from red zone penalties to missed field goals to an on field brawl to a confrontation with a referee. That can’t happen Saturday. Saturday will tell us whether or not Baylor - and Coach Matt Rhule - have what it takes to do what it takes when backs are against the wall and s**t gets tight.

Can Baylor show up prepared to execute for all 4 quarters? Can Baylor avoid dumb penalties, costly turnovers on offense, and poor discipline on defense? Will we have a rivalry win in front of an amazing home crowd to show off to recruits? Will Matt Rhule prove himself to fans, donors, the players (maybe an NFL executive or 2?) as a guy who can get it done? Will we step in to our destiny and continue our ascendance back towards the penthouse of the Big 12 after our year in the basement?

We better. Because imagine having having a weekly article basically dedicated to talking trash about how terrible a football team TCU is and then your favorite team losing to them.