By Shehan Jeyarajah
On Sept. 30, 1950, Baylor University opened the $1.8 million “Baylor Stadium” with a 34-7 home win against the University of Houston under head coach George Sauer. On Saturday night, Baylor will look to close out the 63-year- old Floyd Casey Stadium against a historic rival, the No. 25 Texas Longhorns.
The stadium has been the home of Baylor football ever since the opener against Houston in 1950. In the time since President Harry Truman, the home of the Bears has gone through several updates, including the addition of a 23-by-31-foot LED video screen and skyboxes added in 2002.
The field held the name Baylor Stadium until it was renamed in 1988. At halftime of the homecoming game, Baylor trustee Carl B. Casey gave a substantial gift in his father’s name, and Floyd Casey Stadium was born.
The Bears have played at “The Case” for 63 years straight. In that time, Baylor has been ranked in the top 25 by the Associated Press 23 times and will have played in 19 bowl games. All-time Baylor wins leader Grant Teaff led Baylor to 10 bowls and nine top-10 rankings in his 20 years as Baylor’s coach.
“The first game I coached there was in 1989 at Stephenville,” current head football coach Art Briles said. “We played Belton, they were No. 5 in the state. We were not that good, but we actually upset them. Had maybe three or four games through high school.”
Local Midway High School graduate and senior safety Ahmad Dixon has been in and out of Floyd Casey Stadium since high school in 2007.
“I’ve been playing in that stadium for a while,” Dixon said. “I played my senior year of high school there. To see it go, it’s kind of heartwarming. I enjoyed playing there. We’ve made so many special moments in that stadium and I’ve made a lot of memories.”
The last six years under Briles have been one of the most successful periods in Floyd Casey Stadium history. Baylor has been ranked at some point in the AP poll for four years straight, including achieving a program-high third overall in 2013. Baylor also became bowl-eligible for the fourth year in a row for the first time in school history.
Over the past two years, Baylor has won nine straight games at Floyd Casey Stadium, the longest stretch in school history. The Bears have won five straight games over AP Top 25 opponents over the last two years, including a stunning upset over No. 1 Kansas State in 2012.
“Since we’ve been here, if you listed the top 10 games at Floyd Casey Stadium, this little era would have a couple of them in there,” Briles said. “It’s been a very great stadium for us. I would love to top it off for all the people that sacrificed and put a lot of effort and soul into that stadium this Saturday. It would top it off for the rest of us.”
Next season, the Bears will move into the $260 million riverfront Baylor Stadium.
There will be a bridge across the Brazos connecting Baylor Stadium to campus.
Baylor will play against University of Texas on Saturday in the Floyd Casey finale in a matchup with crucial Big 12 title implications. Along with being the final game at the stadium, Baylor will be playing to win at least a share of the Big 12 Championship for the first time in program history.
“It couldn’t be any better of a situation for a Big 12 Championship than the last game at Floyd Casey,” senior nickelback Sam Holl said. “It makes for a big stage for us. I think we are all really excited about this game, and we’re going to be ready.”
No. 9 Baylor (10-1, 7-1) will face No. 25 Texas (8-3, 7-1) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The game will be nationally broadcast on Fox. In honor of The Case, the Bears will wear throwback uniforms to the 1950 inaugural season, and will wear a commemorative patch on their jerseys.