The passing game sputted, Gerry Bohanon looked rusty (at best) in his first game back from injury, and it took three quarters for the offense to score, but the defense, led by Al Walcott, JT Woods, and Terrel Bernard, dominated and Abram Smith broke the single-season rushing record to lead the Baylor Bears to the first 12-win season in program history. Tonight’s win capped off one of the greatest turnarounds in recent memory after a 2-win season a year ago, and in Dave Aranda’s second year at the helm, Baylor had probably its best season of all time, winning the Big 12 Conference and a Sugar Bowl for the first time in 64 years. Rumor has it we should hear that he has signed an extension that will keep him in the green and gold for a long time in the coming days.
This one won’t go down as an offensive classic, but it showed exactly who Aranda and his staff want Baylor to be. After Ole Miss tied it up and seemingly took control of the momentum, Baylor did not back down as it might have in the past. They never even looked rattled. Instead, even with Gerry Bohanon struggling (he finished just 7/17 for 40 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT), the defense buckled down, the offense finally found its groove with Smith’s steady play and Baldwin’s game-breaker, and the rest was history. JT Woods grabbed his second pick of the day to kill another Ole Miss drive, Terrel Bernard took over in his final game for the Bears, and the defense made Luke Altmyer’s life hell the rest of the way, sacking him ten times throughout the entire game. After their missed FG, Ole Miss never threatened again. Their much-ballyhooed offense managed just ~322 yards, including garbage time, and seven points. That’s the second-fewest yards gained (Alabama, 291) and fewest points scored, in their entire season. The Baylor defense did that.
Take in all in tonight, Baylor fans. Those of us at home or not in NOLA will just have to enjoy it ourselves and endure the FOMO, but those of you in NOLA, have yourselves a night. You deserve it, the team deserves it, and though this is just the beginning for the program, it is also the end of an incredible year!