Fans set for Cactus Bowl showdown

The Brammer family, Phoenix locals pose at the Cactus Bowl tailgating party today in Phoenix. Photo credit: Liesje Powers

PHOENIX — While the Baylor regular season may have ended on a sour note, the fans still have hope that the season will be redeemed at 9:15 central time tonight against Boise State.

After starting the season off 6-0, the Bears looked poised to make a run for the national championship. However, that thought was short lived as the Bears fell to the University of Texas on the road, 35-34 on Oct. 29. With the hope that things couldn’t get any worse, the Bears lost senior quarterback Seth Russell to a fractured ankle on Nov. 12 against Oklahoma.

“Seth was another one of the rocks that got the guys through, and it was definitely a turning point emotionally for sure. The momentum shifted in a huge way because he was carrying the team on his shoulders,” said Phoenix Baylor graduate Matthew Brammer. “I think losing him definitely had a huge impact on it, but at the same point what an opportunity for Zach [Smith] and the underclassmen to step up. If we are talking strictly football, it is about growing men, and I think that he has been able to mentor Zach in a way he wouldn’t have been able to before.”

Struggling to get any rhythm going, the Bears saw their regular season come to an end with six-strait losses. However, Brammer said he expects them to perform at a high level against Boise State.

“I expect Zach to come out guns blazing. I expect the whole team to, also,” Brammer said. “There is nothing to lose, so I think they are going to leave it all out there on the field. I expect us to perform very well. They have had a lot of time to look at tape; they had a lot of time to plan the plays. I think it is going to be fun. I think it is going to be a great game.”

Spring senior Grayson Kelley, who is also a part of the Baylor Spirit Squad, said he is excited to be out on the field with the team for one last time.

“I’m excited to be here because Baylor is my family,” Kelley said. “This going to be the last time I’ll be on the field with Sprit to finish out a pivotal season with these amazing friends that have taken me in. That’s what Baylor is about: we are all family, and we stand by each other.”

While Phoenix may be far away for many, Phoenix senior Jack Friedli decided to attend the big game with his family.

“I’m excited to go since I’m from Arizona, and I can bring my whole family with me to share the Baylor experience,” Friedli said. “Despite all the past issues, I know some of the football players, and I want to support my friends while they fling the green and gold to my side of the country.”

Although turmoil existed off the field, Brammer said Baylor pride continued to soar in his family as he saw the bigger picture of the university.

“We fly our Baylor flag at home. Baylor is bigger than just football; it is so much more than that. I think that being true to Baylor isn’t about the football team as much as this is my alma mater,” Brammer said. “If you haven’t experienced Baylor, you don’t quite understand, but once you’ve experienced Baylor you get it. It is so much bigger than the football team.”

While many had their eyes on the players of the team, Brammer said that Grobe was the real bedrock behind the scenes.

“Coach Grobe is amazing. I love the fact that he is always positive. In the Bible it says that some people are prepared for such a time as this,” Brammer said. “I think God prepared him for such a time like this to really be a rock and to get our team and university through tough times. I think his faith shines in every word that he says.”