The 2014 calendar year was one of the biggest in Baylor history, and featured some of the most prominent performances that we have seen from Bears. From Big 12 Championships to nationally-recognized performances, it was a standout year.
There were several games that brought Baylor national attention, and not just in its most notable sports. Here are the Lariat’s top Baylor games of 2014.
GAME OF THE YEAR: Football vs. TCU
All eyes were on McLane Stadium on Oct. 11 as historical rivals No. 5 Baylor and No. 9 TCU played the first game between top 10 ranked teams in Waco since Eisenhower was president. After senior quarterback Bryce Petty threw a pick-six, TCU took a 58-37 lead with only 11:38 left in the game. From that point on, Baylor dominated. Petty threw for a career-high 510 yards and six touchdowns in the win, including 123 yards and two touchdowns in the final 11 minutes of the game. The defense dominated the final stretch, and sophomore cornerback Ryan Reid batted down a key pass on a TCU fourth down to give freshman kicker Chris Callahan a chance to end the game. The “61-58” mantra launched Baylor to the front of the College Football Playoff picture, and eventually into the Cotton Bowl.
RUNNER-UP: Softball vs. Kentucky
Baylor softball powered its way to the Women’s College World Series for the second time in four seasons in 2014, but struggled initially once it got there. The Bears lost convincingly to Florida in the first game, which set up an elimination game against Kentucky. Baylor went down 7-0 to start, but used seven runs in only two innings to send the game in extra inning. Despite slumping throughout the WCWS, outfielder Kaitlyn Thumann hit a double and scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth to push Baylor into the WCWS semifinals for the second time under head coach Glenn Moore.
HONORABLE MENTION: Men’s basketball vs. Creighton
Baylor men’s basketball looked dead in the water after 10 games in conference play. The Bears sat at 2-8, which prompted many experts to close the door on BU’s NCAA Tournament chances. However, Baylor went 10-2 to close Big 12 play, and entered the tourney on a high note. The culmination of the season came in an 85-55 win over the No. 3-seed Creighton Bluejays. The Bears used a dominant defensive effort, including holding the nation’s leading scorer Doug McDermott to only 14 points. Brady Heslip shot 5-for-7 from three as part of a 61.1 percent Baylor effort from three. The win launched Baylor into its third Sweet 16 under head coach Scott Drew.
HONORABLE MENTION: Volleyball vs. Iowa State
The Baylor volleyball team had a rocky 2014 season, and the Bears were 1-6 in conference play heading into their match against Iowa State at home on Oct. 25. After the team dropped the first two sets 25-20 and 25-19, things did not look good for Baylor. However, the Bears fired back in the final three sets to take a big five-set win over the Cyclones behind sophomore middle hitter Sam Hill and junior outside hitter Thea Munch-Soegaard. Both players combined for 23 kills in the win, and the five-set thriller snapped a nine-match losing streak to the Cyclones since 2009.
HONORABLE MENTION: Football vs. Oklahoma
The Bears made a statement win against then-No. 15 Oklahoma as Baylor took its first ever win in Norman 48-14. Down 14-3 at the end of the fourth quarter, Baylor blew past the Sooners and scored 45 unanswered points behind a dynamic game from senior quarterback Bryce Petty and sophomore receiver Corey Coleman. Petty threw for 387 yards (32-for-42 completion) and a touchdown while Coleman had 15 catches for 224 yards and scored a receiving and rushing touchdown in the historic win.
Voters: Greg DeVries, Daniel Hill, Shehan Jeyarajah, Cody Soto, Jeffrey Swindoll, Travis Taylor