Rise Up - This is What It's All About

This summer the Baylor Athletic Department initiated a marketing campaign based upon the theme of Rising Up. For the idea to work successfully, one thing always had to happen - a winning football team. With the Baylor Bears on the cusp of bowl eligibility, the call to Rise Up is once again being heard.

When the Baylor Bears take the field Saturday afternoon at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas, to take on the Kansas State Wildcats, it's not just any old Big 12 conference game. For both teams, it's a chance to become bowl-eligible, but even moreso for Baylor, it's a chance for everyone in Baylor Nation to "Rise Up" as the Bears hope to get back to a bowl for the first time in 15 years. Coach Art Briles senses the importance of the game: "I am sorry (Baylor Nation) had to wait this long. We are excited about being home on Saturday," he told media members earlier in the week.

Shortly after the conference realignment mess of this past summer, Baylor began to urge all facets of the University to Rise Up. They began with a series of commercials featuring star players such as linebacker Antonio Johnson and offensive tackle Danny Watkins, which emphasized that the players intended to rise up this season.

Unbeknownst to Baylor, these commercials would have a deep impact on award winning musical artist and Baylor alum David Crowder. Crowder quickly produced a song entitled Rise Up and offered it to Baylor to use with a pre-game highlight. The highlight video is shown immediately before the team takes the field, and has become a unique part of Baylor's gameday atmosphere.

Continuing the idea to encourage better gameday atmosphere, Baylor initiated the March of the Bears this season, a pre-game event where the football team unloads from the bus on their way into the stadium, walking down a path lined with hundreds of Baylor fans, Baylor cheerleaders and yell leaders, and the Golden Wave Marching Band. The players have talked about how much this unique new tradition means to them, often giving them extra incentive to focus on the game before them.

From the late summer, Baylor has continued with the Rise Up theme, airing commercials both online and in local television markets, and challenging fans to pack Floyd Casey Stadium. And now, on Homecoming weekend at Baylor, the football team and fan base together, have a unique opportunity to experience something together - a return to bowl eligibility. "This is the first time we might be bowl eligible in a long time," said wide receiver Lanear Sampson. "This game means so much to us and we just need to stay focused, get out there Saturday and get a win against Kansas State."

No doubt, the game against Kansas State on Saturday presents a challenge to the Baylor football team. With its high powered rushing attack, Kansas State figures to be a difficult football team to beat. However, this Baylor football team has demonstrated this year that they are ready to move beyond the bowl drought, and Baylor fans hope that happens this Saturday.

So as Baylor Nation waits for Saturday's game to come around, it is important for fans to remember their roll in the Rise Up campaign. From the mouth of senior running back Jay Finley on the importance of the crowd: "It is so important. When the fans get loud, the opponents get rattled and they get a little scared. We need all our fans to come out and be present this week. I want them to bring everything because we want to make as much noise as we can!" There you have it Baylor fans. Show up to the game early. Greet the team during March of the Bears. Tailgate. Scream your head off during the game. In short, Rise Up. This Baylor team will try to do the same.

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