By Michael Haag | Sports Editor, Alexandra Laurence | Broadcast Reporter
Baylor football will be running into the dark this weekend.
The Bears will host No. 19 Kansas State University for a 6 p.m. contest Saturday at McLane Stadium. It marks the first Big 12 night game Baylor has played at home since Nov. 29, 2020, against the Wildcats. Nov. 16, 2019, saw the last nighttime matchup that featured a full-capacity McLane Stadium.
Ahead of this weekend’s game, a student-led Twitter account, @blackout_McLane, started a “blackout” movement for the fanbase. The idea was similar to the “Go Gold” campaign that Baylor Athletics started. The Bears (6-3, 4-2 Big 12) played against a “blackout” environment on Oct. 29 when they squared off with Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
The Twitter account gained traction throughout the week and Baylor Athletics endorsed the “blackout” theme on Twitter on Wednesday. When asked if the Bears have a black set of uniforms to make it a true “blackout,” Brent Ingram, Baylor Athletics spokesperson, said the lack of jerseys is due to the most recent rebranding deal with Nike as of 2019.
“In April 2019, Baylor launched an institutional rebrand in partnership with Nike,” Ingram said. “The new branding united Baylor under a standardized color palette resulting in a departmental recommitment to the University’s signature colors of Baylor Green and University Gold. Rebranding provided a great opportunity to double down on Baylor’s core brand identity.”
Baylor used to have a black set of jerseys almost a decade ago, but that colorway is long done now that new deals have been made with Nike. On Twitter, SicEm365.com’s Craig Smoak received more word regarding the matter from senior associate athletics director for external affairs, Jovan Overshown.
“We’re not necessarily restricted from it, but it’s not part of our [Nike] package right now,” Overshown said. “A black uniform isn’t something in our closet and hiding unfortunately.”
Montgomery junior Dillon Daniel said the “blackout” movement is a good thing and that he was sad that tradition left with those early 2010s teams.
“It’s good to bring back some traditions,” Daniel said. “It kind of got left behind. I didn’t really know why it [blackout] was happening until like yesterday because somebody mentioned it to me. It’s a really good idea. We should bring it back.”
Castle Rock, Colo., freshman Lauren Valley is excited to experience her first conference night game at McLane and said there are a lot of cool things to be hyped for this weekend.
“Also with the theme of the game and how it’s something way out of the ordinary that we’re doing all ‘blackout,’” Valley said. “And also it’s a Veterans Day celebration, so it’s honestly just going to be a huge game. Especially since it’s against K-State, K-State’s going to be an exceptionally tough contender, but I feel like it’s possible.”
Daniel, who trudged through his freshman year during the pandemic, said he’s isn’t even the biggest football fan, but that he’s still pumped for Saturday night.
“I’m not huge on football, but there’s something about the Baylor football games that it’s just so fun to go to,” Daniel said. “This will be a new experience for me. I didn’t even get to run the line. I’m waiting [for] my senior year for that. So, this is at least something.”
Baylor is still in the hunt to contend for a Big 12 title. Right now, the Bears can control their own destiny with wins in their final three games of the season. A loss would all but shatter any hope of making it to Arlington.
Daniel said he’s confident in the team to pave its way to AT&T Stadium amid the final stretch consisting of KSU, No. 4 Texas Christian University and at No. 18 University of Texas.
“Obviously they could do it,” Daniel said. “All they have to do is stay humble and play the way they’re supposed to play. I mean, they’re totally capable of it. But it’s just a matter of will they or won’t they?”
Little Rock, Ark. freshman Ben Brogdon doubled down on Big 12 title talk and said the hardest test for the Bears will be playing the Longhorns in Austin for the final game of the season, which could be a “win and your in” game between the two programs.
“We definitely win our home games [against] TCU [and] K-State,” Brogdon said. “And then Texas on the road will be tough, but we can do it. There’s nothing I love more than beating Texas.”
Valley feels confident in the team due to the strong rushing attack. She said the emergence of freshman running back Richard Reese and revival of Craig “Sqwirl” Williams gives Baylor all it needs to succeed.
“At the beginning of the year, the offense was just trying to find their way through,” Valley said. “But now … especially with Reese and everything, he has really been picking up a lot of the slack. But also with ‘Sqwirl’ coming in, we have a lot going on. So, that’s a good possibility to have a comeback. Especially since there’s a lot of fun things happening this week; the morale will be high.”
Baylor Athletics announced that Saturday’s “blackout” contest is completely sold out. It’s still highly unlikely that the Bears stroll out in any sort of black uniform that is not part of the deal with Nike, but Valley said “it would be really cool.”
“If they could, I’d love to see it,” Valley said.