Vengeance has been brewing since last football season — a clash forged in the fire of private school rivalry and branded by the numbers “61-58.”
Even the most casual of Baylor fans are locked and loaded to repeat last year’s victory over TCU and claim once and for all who deserves to be the “One True Champion.”
But Saturday is not that day.
ESPN’s College Gameday announced Saturday it was setting up camp in Wacotown for tomorrow’s match against the University of Oklahoma. This got fans’ wheels turning for clever signs to show on national television, a staple of the Saturday morning show. However, if you’re planning to whip out your best rendition of the “61-58” phrase, think again.
Those numbers resonate so strongly with Baylor fans, and for valid reason. At the home game last year against TCU, the Bears scored 21 unanswered points in the last quarter, plus the additional 3-point field goal to win the game. It was a huge moment in program history and the second time ever that there was an AP Top 10 matchup in Waco.
But we’ve been given a second shot at national attention on ESPN; “61-58” and any indication of our hatred for TCU belongs off-camera. It’s like a messy breakup — we won the argument; we just can’t get over it.
Think about what this slogan says to the nation, not to mention the College Football Playoff Committee. While those numbers became our battle cry for the remainder of last season and into the spring, we keep bringing up old emotions that don’t even apply to the opponents we play. There’s not much meat behind those numbers anymore. Even after defeating them last year, we blew it with Michigan State at the Cotton Bowl.
To incessantly point out the one game we were supposed to lose last year is just bringing the buzzkill to the party. Not to mention it shows little creativity in witty College Gameday signs for the Sooners.
This isn’t to degrade the fair-and-square victory against the Horned Frogs. It was arguably the most scrutinized game of the season across the board and certainly a page in history for the Bears.
But this rivalry stems further than just a 3-point win. There’s been a deep-seated stink-eye between Baylor and TCU. Baylor emerged as the underdog two seasons ago, and we’ve kept that momentum going this season, which the Playoff Committee still doesn’t see as viable or lasting. When TCU rose up to the challenge last fall, we admittedly felt threatened.
Though we beat them last season, this game in Fort Worth is part of our chance to claim that Big 12 title for a three-peat. This year, we’re not sharing.
But the slate is clean. We’re not building on that score, so those numbers should mean nothing to us now.
In the meantime, we’ve got massive fish to fry before heading to Fort Worth or even thinking about a shot at that title again. Our schedule hasn’t allowed for much opportunity to flex our muscles. This weekend against Oklahoma will be our first true test of legitimacy. In program history, we’ve only ever beat them three times; it’s important to keep tomorrow’s game in perspective.
There’s no time to get hung up on a game that’s two weeks away when we’ve got two other huge opponents — OU and Oklahoma State — lined up. Keep in mind: They’ve been hungry for us all season.
Continuing to play the “61-58” card is not vindicating nor clever; it’s now embarrassing, especially when we’re not playing TCU. Save that energy for when we actually face them. The country is waiting for us to show our saltiness on national television this Saturday. Let’s prove ’em wrong.