While it wasn't quite the "Year of the Bear" again, 2012 still brought with it quite a bit of good and memorable moments. The Bears took us on a ride that few expected, especially the lows of a 4-game losing streak in the middle of the season to the highs of a 4-game winning streak to end the year. It wasn't what most of expected along the way, but an 8 win season is right around where most Bear fans had their sights set at.
Offensive MVP – Nick Florence
The bearded one had some pretty big shoes to fill, but he straps those bad boys on and played about as well as one could have expected. Florence broke Robert Griffin III's single season passing record, and he rushed for 531 yards. But his biggest contribution was just simply carrying the offense and getting up after every big hit. Florence was a strong and tough competitor every game, and put the Bears in position to win all of the games on their schedule. The senior moves on now, but his arm and his beard will be appreciated in Waco for a long time.
Defensive MVP – Eddie Lackey
While Lackey was not the most consistent player for the Bears, especially early in the year, he certainly lifted his level of performance in the last half of the season, starting with the Iowa State game. Lackey led the Bears defense in those last 7 games as the other side of the ball for the Bears started to play better. That led to a 5-2 finish in those 7 games. Lackey's two biggest games came in the last two Big 12 games of the year; Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. His two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown saved the game against Tech and got the Bears its 6th win. The next week, he put Baylor up for good and got the first touchdown of the game on his 26 yard return off of a 1-handed interception.
Game of the Year – Bears beat Kansas State 52-24
Was there any doubt? The Bears first victory over a #1 ranked team was not only the biggest this year, but possibly one of the biggest over the last 20 years (along with a certain Heisman defining win over Oklahoma last season). Sure, Kansas State was the second #1 team to lose and along with Oregon the second top team to lose that weekend, but this game was different. This wasn't a comeback falls short loss like Alabama had the week before, or an overtime game like Oregon. This was a butt whipping; plain and simple. The Bears came out and punished Kansas State, going up by 28 points at the end of the 3rd quarter. The score could have been worse, as Baylor started to run the clock in the 4th quarter. The Bears ended the national championship dreams of the Wildcats and the Heisman hopes of Collin Klein.
Honorable Mention – Holiday Bowl win against UCLA 49-19
17 catches, 314 yards and 2 touchdowns. That is a good 3 game stretch for most wide receivers. But that is just a single game for Mr. Williams. The senior star announced his intentions towards the Big 12 in a big way in the conference opener. Sure, there were a lot of big stats from that game. A 70-63 game will do that, but Williams had the best day of all.
Honorable Mention – Glasco Martin against Kansas State (113 yards, 3 touchdowns), Eddie Lackey against Oklahoma State (15 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 interception), Nick Florence against West Virginia (581 passing yards, 6 total touchdowns)
Play of the Year – Lache Seastrunk's 76 yard touchdown run against Oklahoma State
We had seen this back breaking run to close out a game before. It was against Kansas State, to truly end the game and the Wildcats hopes of coming back. But this one was different. The play looked the same from the start. The Bears wonderful offensive line opened up the defense like the red sea, with the explosive Seastrunk shooting out of the hole like a man on fire. However, something changed at the 46 yard line. Lache's effortless gait broke as he grabbed his left leg. All of a sudden, he was not at full speed, well his full speed at least. From there on, it was a fight to ward off the defenders and cross the goal line, which he did, with one last surge of effort. The Baylor runner had bested the Cowboys in a test of pure speed with just one leg. The Bears were now up 14 with just over 5 minutes left to go, and victory was closer to being secured.
Honorable Mention – Lackey's interception and touchdown against Oklahoma State, Goal line stand against Kansas Stat, Lanear Sampson 67 yard TD as halftime ends against WVU
Newcomer of the Year – Lache Seastrunk
You could call him a newcomer to the team, and a newcomer to the lineup as well. His first 7 games, no one could have imagined Lache winning this award. He had just 181 yards rushing and a single touchdown. However he would go on to have one of the better 6 game stretches in Baylor history rushing for 831 yards and 7 total touchdowns on his way to becoming a 1,000 yard rusher, the third different rusher for the Bears to get to that mark in 3 years. Lache's emergence with the Bears gave the offense the balance it needed to become a truly dangerous offense, and one that could use up clock to help the defense as well. Lache's big play ability (as we saw against KSU and OSU) closed out games, and helped the Bears finish 5-1 in that 6 game stretch.
Honorable Mention – Eddie Lackey
Freshman of the Year – Spencer Drango
The Redshirt freshman started every game at left tackle, and he not only held his own, he was one of the better left tackles in the Big 12. Drango was matched up against some of the better defensive ends in the country and held is own. Margus Hunt of SMU left Waco without a single sack. Both Devonte Fields of TCU and Alex Okafor of Texas were held to a single sack. Drango was one of the biggest reasons for the Bears allowing a sack on just 3.56% of the time (24th best in the country).
2012 Player of the Year – Terrance Williams
This one was pretty hard to choose, but in the end it came down to the Bears star receiver, and Biletnikoff finalist, Terrance Williams. With a school record 95 receptions and 1,778 yards receiving, Williams was the best and most consistent weapon the Bears had all year. His monster performance against West Virginia put him in the Big 12 records book.