Baylor has two chances to punch its bowl ticket
11/23/2012 11:40 PM
06/08/2013 11:54 PM
Baylor altered the college football landscape last week, but coach Art Briles is trying to keep the team focused on the prize.
The 52-24 rout of then BCS No. 1 Kansas State was the Bears' fifth win of the season and puts them in position to reach a third consecutive bowl game for the first time. Baylor (5-5, 2-5 in Big 12) has two Big 12 games left to get that sixth victory, and first is today against Texas Tech at Cowboys Stadium.
"No question we certainly feel a need and an obligation to finish this thing out right and let these players and this university enjoy another bowl season," Briles said. "Our goal here in the last three weeks is just doing whatever we can do to get to six wins. We were fortunate to get to five, now we're going to try and get to six."
Baylor and Texas Tech (7-4, 4-4) appear headed in opposite directions as the Bears have won two of three, while the Red Raiders have lost three of four, including a 38-point drubbing at the hands of Oklahoma State last week in Stillwater.
"In general, we just feel like we're playing better as a football team right now than we were a month ago in every phase of the game," Briles said. "We just feel like we're kind of settling down, figuring out how to get it done and who to get it done with."
Baylor, however, has to guard against the classic letdown after such an emotional victory, but Briles said the holiday will help.
"With it being the Thanksgiving week, where our guys only have class on Monday and Tuesday, we get to kind of isolate for two or three days and really make sure our focus is where it needs to be," Briles said. "In our minds, as a program and a team, we haven't accomplished anything yet."
Today's game is appropriately called the Texas Farm Bureau Shootout. The teams average a combined 72 points and more than 1,000 yards of offense per game.
Baylor, led by senior quarterback Nick Florence, has the No. 2 offense in the country at 565.6 yards per outing.
Texas Tech is more familiar with Florence than most as he came off the bench in the second half for the injured Robert Griffin III last season to torch the Red Raiders for 151 yards and a pair of touchdown passes en route to a 66-42 victory.
"He really impressed us and even after the game we went back and looked at it and he played better than RGIII did in the first half," Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said. "He put the ball on the money, threw deep balls, he made big third-down throws and we were a little bit amazed by it because we didn't know anything about him."
Today marks the third neutral site meeting in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in as many years for the teams. The Red Raiders edged Baylor 45-38 in 2010 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas before the series moved to Cowboys Stadium last season.
"I like the situation of the date, it's Thanksgiving weekend with nobody on your campuses," Tuberville said. "We both have a lot of fans in the Dallas area. I don't know the future of it yet but it's worked out."
Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760
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