By Daniel Hill
Baylor football clinched a historic third consecutive bowl bid this season by defeating Texas Tech in overtime 52-45 on Saturday.
The Bears are on a hot streak with three wins in the past four games. When it counts the most, Baylor is playing its best football late in the season.
In November and December of the past two seasons, Baylor is nearly perfect with a 9-1 record.
With the pressure to earn a sixth win mounting, Baylor head coach Art Briles is satisfied that his squad was able to earn bowl eligibility against Texas Tech, rather than leaving it to chance against Oklahoma State.
“We felt some pressure last week because when you get down there to the end, you better seize the moment, and that is what our guys did,” Briles said. “That is what is so rewarding for them and for Baylor.”
With No. 23 Oklahoma State looming this Saturday in Waco, Baylor will have to put together a complete offensive and defensive effort to earn the win.
Baylor has not defeated Oklahoma State since 2005, so no member of the current Baylor Bears squad knows what it’s like to come away with victory against the Cowboys.
“To beat them would be a great wrap up to my career,” senior receiver Terrance Williams said. “OSU is a team that we as a senior class haven’t beaten yet, so to beat them here would be a great wrap-up.”
Defensively, the Bears seem to have turned the page on their early season struggles.
Baylor has been forcing turnovers on a consistent basis.
Against Texas Tech, the Bears forced four turnovers with three interceptions and one fumble recovery.
Baylor has back-to-back Big 12 Defensive Players of the Week. Junior cornerback Joe Williams won it two weeks ago with his performance against Kansas State and junior linebacker Eddie Lackey won it this week for the game against Texas Tech in which he had two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Lackey scored a touchdown on one of his interception returns.
“It feels great,” Lackey said. “It’s a big accomplishment for our defense to have two consecutive defensive players of the week. All credit to our defense.”
On the offensive side of the ball, the Bears have had no problem this year.
The Bears have the No. 5 scoring offense in the nation and they are one of only four teams in college football to average more than 300 yards passing and 200 yards rushing this season.
The Baylor offense simply will not be stopped. The Bears average 575.5 yards per game, which is No. 2 in the nation.
At the helm of the third-best passing offense in the nation, senior quarterback Nick Florence is responsible for the fourth most points per game in college football with 20.9 points.
The major improvement in the Bears offense lately has been the emphasis on the rushing game. Against Texas Tech, sophomore running back Lache Seastrunk rushed for 136 yards on 19 carries and junior running back Glasco Martin had 23 carries for 98 yards.
Baylor’s rushing attack is No. 1 in the Big 12 by averaging 217.0 yards per game.
Baylor’s offense can move the ball through the rush and with the pass. Senior wide receiver Terrance Williams is on pace to become only the second 2,000 yard receiver in NCAA history.
Williams leads the nation in receiving yards with 1,693. With 175 yards against Texas Tech, Williams surpassed Kendall Wright for the most single season receiving yards in Baylor history.
With a guarantee of two games remaining, Baylor has a chance to have an eight-win season.
Terrance Williams has a chance to have one of the most prolific seasons ever by a wide receiver.
Baylor has already made history by getting the bid for a third consecutive bowl game, but winning back-to-back bowl games would be an even greater prize.
There’s still more football to be played and Baylor has a chance to end the regular season strong against No. 23 Oklahoma State.