By Ben Everett | Sports Writer
Baylor football heads into the offseason having finished the season with its worst record since 1969 after a 45-22 loss to rival TCU on Friday.
The Bears (1-11, 1-8), like many other times this season, kept the game close for a while, but ultimately could not keep up with the No. 12-ranked Horned Frogs (10-2, 7-2).
Head coach Matt Rhule said the Bears proved they can compete with high caliber teams, but mistakes doomed them in the loss.
“With respect to our team, it was obviously a disappointing end to a disappointing year,” Rhule said. “As it has been with many games, we proved for long stretches of the game that we can hang in there with a team of that caliber and then a mistake here and a mistake there or a play here or a play there and the game gets away from us.”
Baylor started the game off with all the momentum by sacking TCU senior quarterback Kenny Hill in the end zone to pick up the safety. Freshman quarterback Charlie Brewer then tossed a 54-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Blake Lynch to take a 9-0 lead just two minutes into the game.
The team safety is emblematic of the Baylor’s revamped defense. The Bears only gave up an average of 365 yards per game in November after giving up an average of 503 yards per game through the first eight games of the season.
Junior defensive tackle Ira Lewis said the Bears have gelled defensively and are ready to make a bigger impact at the start of next season.
“We all now understand our assignments and know what to do,” Lewis said. “In the beginning, we were hesitant, but now guys understand what they need to do so it should be that much better going forward.”
After giving up 21 unanswered points to TCU, Baylor responded with 10 points to make it a 21-19 game at the break.
The Bears could not muster much offense in the second half, however, scoring only once on a 23-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Conner Martin as the Horned Frogs ran away with the win.
Lynch said the young players have taken this to heart and are ready to compete and win games next season.
“I think it will help motivate me and my whole team,” Lynch said. “We were really close in every game but two or three this year and to end up 1-11. We didn’t envision that, so it’s motivation for next year.”
This season marks the seventh time Baylor football has finished the year with one win or less.
Rhule said the players have been through a lot this season and will begin to work toward next season immediately.
“There is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Rhule said. “This is one of the hardest things these players have been through and it is over now. Now it is time to begin the climb to coming back and playing again next year.”