By Marquis Cooley | Sports Editor
Saturday was a nerve-wracking day for No. 8 Baylor football and their Big 12 Championship hopes, as their game against Texas Tech University came down to a missed field goal as time expired. No. 7 Oklahoma State University didn’t make it any easier for the Bears as it took a wild game and everything the Cowboys could muster to do what they haven’t done since 2014: defeat No. 10 University of Oklahoma in Bedlam. OSU’s victory Saturday night secured Baylor’s spot in the Big 12 Championship game being played at 11 a.m. on Dec. 4, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. It will be Baylor’s second appearance in the conference title matchup, the first being a loss to OU in 2019. The game will be the culmination of what has been a two-year journey for head coach Dave Aranda and his team.
“Credit goes to a bunch of a bunch of folks,” Aranda said. “I think of our seniors, I think of the overall team buy-in, I think of the staff and their cohesion and their belief. I go back to those December, January meetings where things were maybe unclear to see kind of how this was all going to play out. The belief and the connection that was forged then, I think is way special.”
After going 2-7 in Aranda’s first season as head coach there’s been many changes within the team to get to where they are now, such as the additions of offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes and offensive line coach Eric Mateos. However, it wasn’t just coaching changes that helped turn this team around. There’s been personal growth and maturity within the players as they’ve learned to each do their “1/11,” play as a cohesive unit and “keep the main focus the focus” while being “big-men driven.” Aranda said it’s going to take everything they’ve learned so far to be successful this weekend.
“We’re going to need all of the lessons learned for this one coming up,” Aranda said. “Down the stretch, [OSU has] clearly been the team to watch in our league, so we’ve got ourselves a great challenge.”
Aranda and his team will have the full support of the Baylor fans who they’ve quickly won over with their dominant performances at home throughout the season, garnering victories over both OU and the University of Texas.
“I was fully prepared to go into this season being sad,” Plano senior Paige Koepke said. “But it’s been really awesome because [even though] we didn’t win every game, all of our home games we won, which was really fun. I was able to go to most of them and it was really great watching them win.”
Despite falling short to OSU when the two teams met in October, students are confident Baylor can come out on top the second time around.
“I really hope that Baylor pulls through,” Koepke said. “I’m a little nervous just because we’ve already lost to them, but because we’re going to have a lot of students going, and I know a lot more students want to go, we’ll have a good crowd going. We can pull through with the win, but I do think it’s going to be a close game.”
Student tickets for the Big 12 Championship game will be on sale Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 10 a.m. for $50 through the Baylor student ticket portal and will be first come, first serve. Round-trip charter bus transportation will also be available at the time of ticket purchase for $10. The bus will depart from campus Saturday at 6:30 a.m. and return to Waco following the game. Non-student fans can purchase tickets through the Baylor Athletics website for $95. The game will also be broadcasted on ABC.