This weekend sucked the wind out of the Baylor fanbase, I will admit.
I went media-dark for most of Saturday, only to surface to congratulate my Friday victims on their rightful retaliation. This one hurt. It hurt because we forgot how good West Virginia can be at home (or more accurately, just in general). It hurt because we found hollow-point ammunition, loaded it into our big, fat, penalty gun, and blew both of our feet completely off. It hurt because the Big XII referees asked to “try that puppy out” and took multiple shots at the remaining stumps. It hurt because, on top of everything else, we were beat straight up.
On Sunday, I cleaned up the empties, straightened up the house, went for a run, and started thinking.
First, I feel I need to comment on the independent behavior of some fans.
We as fans were and are still frustrated. And when delivered tastefully, constructive criticism isn’t a bad thing in this situation. But what cannot be tolerated is personal attacks on our players. I’ve seen a few examples from random Baylor fans via social media. I won’t give them the space or publicity here. If you see an individual criticising the effort or talent of an individual player, call out the “fan”. Our players deserve better.
I feel slightly different when it comes to criticising coaches, as these are grown men who are being compensated financially for their performance. I don’t think this staff deserves a ton of harsh words, but if you have a well-thought out disagreement with decisions made, make them!
On one hand, a 1-loss season is a massive disappointment. There are a fair number of Baylor fans that somewhat realistically expected a National Playoff appearance. I might have been one.
On the other hand, a 1-loss regular season matches the BEST SEASON IN BAYLOR FOOTBALL HISTORY. The statement alone is incredible! This is the proverbial golden age of Baylor football. You are literally witnessing the best football in Baylor history. Instead of HOPING to put a dent in someone’s season, we are EXPECTING to make postseason noise.
The program has come a long way. Expecting perfection in any season by nearly any team is nearly irrational.
Taking a look at the remaining schedule, it becomes evident that predicting Big XII is just a big roulette table.
Nov. 1 vs Kansas
The next two weeks of practice will be a defining moment in the history of this team. The coaching staff had this team poised to respond after a tough loss in 2013-14, I expect the same here.
Poor Kansas. After sticking it close(r than usual) with Texas Tech, they also have a Bye Week.
Unfortunately for them, I don’t see any way that Baylor players take mercy. I expect a win by a considerable margin.
Nov. 8 @ Oklahoma
Remember when this was the only game worth watching in the Big XII this year? Remember when “all eyes would be on Norman”? While it will still be a difficult game, it looks like some of the national attention will have shifted away from this matchup versus a “reeling” Oklahoma team.
I’m not entirely sure how Stoops and Oklahoma will respond to dropping two games in a row (with a feisty Iowa State team this week), but I expect a close game. The more important question is, can Baylor get over it’s offensive road woes?
Nov. 22 vs Oklahoma State
Daxx Garman has shown off his big arm, but the Cowboys got obliterated by TCU on Saturday. Now Gundy has to face a fired up and confident West Virginia team.
I expect a beaten down, but still feisty Oklahoma State team to travel to Waco and give Baylor a game. A close win is my prediction here.
Nov. 29 @ Texas Tech (Arlington, TX)
I would be perfectly fine if Briles decides to run the ball 75% of the time versus the defenseless Red Raiders.
I don’t have any reason to doubt the Bears against Texas Tech.
Dec. 6 vs Kansas State
Boy, did we as a collective fan group overlook THIS game. Bill Snyder has done it again, taking an allegedly less talented group of players and transforming them into the Optimus Prime of the Big XII. Standing alone as the only undefeated Big XII at this point. I do see a couple of (large) potential road bumps for the Wildcats in TCU and West Virginia (in Morgantown), but Snyder is most assuredly waiting to avenge their last trip to Waco.
This game will be close, but I can see Baylor winning with an incredible home atmosphere.
From what I can tell, Baylor has a reasonable chance of ending regular season play with an 11-1 record. That being said, a loss in Norman and/or an inspired Kansas State team could easily jump up and bite us. Would a 9-3 record ruin anyone’s Baylor pride? Not mine. Would it be frustrating? Exceptionally.
The national picture, unfortunately for the entirety of the Big XII, got much more bleak. With the national media emphasis on other conferences with championship games, a 1-loss Big XII team appears to be a long shot to appear in the national playoff. A 2-loss team from the Big XII is nearly impossibility to make the top 4.
What would need to happen for a 1-loss Big XII champion to make the playoff? The following teams would need to have either a 1-loss season with a weaker schedule or a 2-loss season with an equally difficult schedule
Regardless of how this season turns out, be it a playoff appearance or a disappointment, make sure to put everything into perspective. This is the last season we get to see this particular combination of athletes. We will (probably) still get to see a TON of points (this is a fun thing). We still have a massively improved defense. This possibly could still be the greatest season in Baylor football history, again.