By Tyler Alley
It’s not a BCS Bowl or the Cotton Bowl, but the Bears will take it. And they’ll take it gladly.
Baylor accepted an invitation to play in the 2011 Valero Alamo Bowl at 8 p.m. on Dec. 29 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
“I am very excited to accept our invitation to the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio,” head coach Art Briles said. “I am really familiar with San Antonio. It’s a great city, great venue with the Alamodome. The thing that catches my eye, as I watched early in the year, is the attendance at some of UTSA’s games — they had 56,000 people there. So that is really impressive. It shows me that they are football-crazy, football-hungry in San Antonio.”
Baylor (9-3, 6-3 in Big 12) will play University of Washington (7-5), the No. 2 non-BCS Pac-12 team.
“What they have done over the last three years has been remarkable,” Briles said. “I think they have gone 5-7, 7-6 and they are 7-5 this year, but prior to that they were 0-12. Coach (Steve) Sarkesian has certainly done an outstanding job. The thing that really caught my attention was what they did to Nebraska last year in the Holiday Bowl.”
This is the second consecutive year for Baylor to go to a bowl game. Last year Baylor was headed into its first bowl in 16 years, but also coming in on a three-game losing streak. This season, Baylor heads into the bowl riding a five-game winning streak. The offense is fresh off a 48-point showing against Texas, and the defense forced six turnovers.
“It’s huge,” junior quarterback Robert Griffin III said. “We are playing with a lot of confidence, defense especially. Our offense is putting up a lot of points and a lot of yards. If anybody could play with us right now, it would be a tough match up. We feel like if we go out and be us, then nobody can beat us.”
Briles said the message since the beginning of the season was for Baylor to not be a “one-hit wonder” in terms of going to bowl games.
“That was a big deal last year getting in a bowl game at Baylor University,” Briles said. “It’s a big deal this year to get into a bowl game at Baylor University. There’s a lot of teams out there in Division 1-A football that would love to be where we are at right now, so we understand that and we don’t take it for granted. What we want to do is seize the moment. We want to take advantage of this opportunity that we have worked for, and that’s our main goal”
Some of the possible bowl scenarios for the Bears included games outside Texas, such as the Insight Bowl in Temp, Ariz. Briles said having the bowl in Texas is great for Baylor Nation.
“It’s a definite plus for our fans,” Briles said. “When you go through the season and you become bowl eligible you like to share it with the people that helped you get there. That’s the part I love about it. We get to share it with our team, but our team gets to share it with our fans.”
More than three weeks will have passed between Baylor’s last regular season game and its bowl game.
“I think it’s a positive thing if anything just because, coming off the season, you’re as beat up as you are physically. I think emotionally as well, you’re just a little worn down from the stress of the season,” senior inside linebacker Elliot Coffey said. “I think that the time off is good. We have a week off to recover here and then we start up practice pretty soon.”
Students may purchase their tickets at the Bill Daniel Student Center Ticket Office from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Thursday to Friday for $65.