By Cody Soto
Sleeping bags, tents, poster boards, oversized markers and Baylor fans will flood campus to witness another milestone in school history Saturday morning.
Out of 14 weekend matchups, including Power 5 conference championships featuring the nation’s top teams, ESPN’S College GameDay will be in Waco for Saturday’s Baylor vs. Kansas State showdown at McLane Stadium.
The sports entertainment show built by Home Depot has been on air since 1987 and has toured the country to cover an important game every week during the football season. Saturday will be the first time a Baylor football team has been featured on the popular pregame program.
The national spotlight will feature two Top-10 teams competing for a share of the Big 12 conference championship title, and it would be the second title in a row for Baylor. This weekend has a lot in store for the Bears.
“We are very honored and excited to be hosting College GameDay,” director of athletics Ian McCaw said. “It is a very exciting time for our program and university. We will be able to showcase our beautiful campus and our outstanding football team, along with what we believe is the best college football stadium in America.”
The show’s appearance in Waco was announced Sunday afternoon by ESPN, and Baylor’s social media erupted.
“I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe they were actually coming to Waco,” Angleton sophomore Kyle Keeney said. “We’re going to be competing for our second Big 12 title in a row, so I’m pumped and super excited.”
A chance for a back-to-back title crowning and a national program in Baylor territory has the community excited. Quite simply, it is a big deal, senior quarterback Bryce Petty said.
“This is what you want. You want to be in this position,” Petty said. “If you can’t get fired up for this, then you maybe need to find another sport or something. I think everybody community-wide and school-wide are excited for it and they should be.”
This opportunity is a memory for the Baylor community, and there are already students planning on camping outside for a spot in the student pit.
“A bunch of friends and I are camping out Friday night starting at 5 p.m.,” Austin sophomore Mattie Raiford said. “It’s such a big thing for Baylor. It’s so exciting for all of us as students, so I couldn’t have asked for anything better to happen.”
The entire buildup to this week will provide Baylor with a big platform Saturday night, McCaw said.
“It will be a wonderful opportunity for us to advance the cause of Baylor and have ESPN here in Waco and Central Texas,” McCaw said. “It is also a great platform for us as we finish up the regular season and make a case for the College Football Playoff.”
Saturday is going to be a memorable day for the sixth-ranked Bears, and the action all ends with the possibility of another Big 12 championship.
“It’s a very exciting week for us without question because we are down to a one game season,” head coach Art Briles said. “We’ve got a great setting at McLane Stadium and we need to take advantage of this great opportunity against a really good football team.”
The three-hour show will begin its live broadcast at the base of the Umphrey Bridge on the South Plaza area at McLane Stadium starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning. Students will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis in the student pit on the ESPN set.
Shuttle services will be available starting at 6 a.m. Shuttles will pick up students and fans from Penland Residence Hall and downtown Waco for transportation to McLane Stadium. Other fans will need to access the stadium from the north side of the stadium on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
A queue begins at 5 p.m. today for students who want to wait in line to be in the ESPN College GameDay Student Pit. Camping guidelines have been set and are posted at baylor.edu/fanzone.