ESPN’s GameDay comes to the Den

University of Memphis head football coach Mike Norvell , left, takes the stage with host Tom Rinaldi during the broadcast of ESPN's "College GameDay", Nov. 2, on Beale Street in Memphis, Tenn. Associated Press

By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer

ESPN’s College GameDay announced that it will be coming to Waco on Saturday for the Bears’ matchup against the Oklahoma Sooners. The matchup will feature major playoff implications, as the two programs currently sit atop the Big 12.

Head coach Matt Rhule said during his weekly Monday press conference he and the team are ready to host one of the most important sports broadcasts in the country.

“College GameDay being here, we’re excited for that. My hope is obviously always for recruiting — that people all across the country see that GameDay could’ve gone anywhere…and they chose to see this great Baylor-Oklahoma game,” Rhule said. “I don’t want this to just be about our football program, I want it to be about the university and also about Waco.”

The broadcast has been to Baylor’s campus twice before, once in 2014 for a conference championship against Kansas State, and again in 2015 to preview the Bears’ game versus an 8-1 Oklahoma. Baylor is 1-1 in matchups when the program comes to campus.

No. 9 Oklahoma comes to the battleground with only one loss, coming at the hands of then-unranked Kansas State. The No. 12 Bears are 9-0 on the season and have risen to the top of the Big 12 standings.

The winner of the game will lock up a spot in the Big 12 Championship game on Dec. 7, while the loser risks falling out of the game entirely as Texas and Iowa State loom behind them in the conference standings. Rhule said in his press conference Monday that he wasn’t worried about his team falling flat under the pressure.

“ I think the GameDay is awesome. To me, this is a chance for us to show the country Baylor, Baylor football and Waco. Players don’t have much to do with it. I don’t have much to do with it. I think I show up for like 10 minutes on Saturday and kind of go over there and get on set and then leave,” Rhule said. “But hopefully for everyone else, I hope you turn the TV on, and it’s a mass of students and people and everyone.”

The 2015 season also saw the Bears walk into College GameDay undefeated, but No. 12 Oklahoma upset No. 4 Baylor 44-34. Sooner quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns in the win, while the Oklahoma offense supported with 241 yards and three scores on the ground.

The 2014 game turned better for the Bears, as No. 5 Baylor defeated No. 9 Kansas State 38-27. Bryce Petty passed for 412 yards and a touchdown in the win, as the Bears won their second consecutive Big 12 title.

That title came under dispute after the matchup, though, as Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby refused to name a conference champion, hoping to get both Baylor and TCU into the inaugural College Football Playoff. Instead, Ohio State was chosen as the No. 4 team for the playoff, and the Buckeyes went on to win the first title in the new system.

The Bears start 9-0 for the first time since 2013 and are looking to become the first 10-0 Baylor squad this century. The team looks completely different this time around, as the Bears’ defense ranks among the top in the country this season, while the opposite was true under the previous Baylor teams to play when the show came to town in 2014 and 2015.

College GameDay’s broadcast will begin at 8 a.m. on ESPN. The game against No. 10 Oklahoma is scheduled to kick off at 6:30 p.m. on ABC or streaming in the ESPN app.