When you wish upon a star....
Dreams finally came true for Baylor faithful in Orlando. After what appeared to be another abysmal effort for about 3 quarters, the Bears found a gear we hadn’t seen all season and overcame a 28 point deficit to beat UCF 36-35. Two fourth down conversions on the final drive for the Knights couldn’t get them far enough as they missed a last gasp 59 yard field goal to end the game. It was the largest comeback in Baylor football history.
BAYLOR COMPLETES THE 28-POINT COMEBACK FOR THE WIN AGAINST UCF. WHAT A GAME!pic.twitter.com/aV78yJNMC2— DraftKings (@DraftKings) September 30, 2023
FINAL— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) September 30, 2023
It was a triumphant return for QB Blake Shapen, and my what a return it was. While the offense struggled for about 75% of the game, Shapen clearly showed why he is QB1. Shapen went 21-34 for 293 yards and TD through the air, along with a TD on the ground. There was a never quit mentality in the fourth quarter that I can only attribute to having your team leader back on the field. This wasn’t the same Bears team we’ve seen most of this year, they didn’t give in.
Richard Reese looked like himself again, rushing for 100 yards on 16 carries. Monaray Baldwin balled out with 7 catches for 150 yards and a TD, including a crucial catch with multiple broken tackles on the drive that delivered the winning FG. But, forget the offensive stats for a second to give the game ball to Caden Jenkins. The freshman corner had an interception and a 4th quarter scoop and score that changed the entire landscape of the game.
It was a truly magical comeback. ESPN analytics gave UCF a 99.9% chance of winning with 37 seconds left in the third quarter with UCF up 35-10. But, the Bears found a way to take that 0.1% chance and make the most of it, shocking the Big 12 world. Most fans not cheering for one of these two sides absolutely turned this game off much earlier than the third quarter expecting more of the same from Baylor to close it out.
I’d normally throw you some stats from the opposing side, but my focus is and will remain on the epic performance by the Bears to not quit in this one. It was Baylor’s first win against an FBS opponent in 328 days. They hadn’t done it since a win in Norman against the Sooners on November 5th, 2022. Let’s hope this one catapults the Bears into something more moving forward.
It has been 328 days since Baylor last beat a FBS opponent. Their last FBS win was November 5, 2022, against Oklahoma.— Connor Martin (@Connor_J_M) September 30, 2023
Since that date, Baylor has lost to two G5 schools (Texas State and Air Force), and has a record of 1-7, with their only win being against FCS Long Island.
Next up is the BUTT Bowl, as Baylor welcomes Texas Tech to McLane next week. Tech has also had its struggles this season and is down their starting QB. If Baylor can find a way to make it two in a row, the outlook on the season could be wildly different than where most fans were expecting to end up. After weeks of criticism, rightfully so, the coaching staff, and especially Head Coach Dave Aranda can take a small breath. Build on this, harness it, and take us somewhere we couldn’t have dreamed just a few hours ago. SIC ‘EM!