Baylor makes another memory with upset
WACO, Texas -- During a timeout with just 32 seconds to play and the hometown Baylor Bears leading the No. 1 team in the BCS by a healthy 28 points, the public address announcer pleaded for fans to stay off the playing surface at the end of the game.
Uh, good luck with that. Kansas State has a better chance of playing for the national title now than that warning had of being heeded.
The booing Baylor fans are used to the drill by now. On this same weekend a year ago, it celebrated the re-emergence of its first Heisman winner in the race for the trophy. This time, it ruined Kansas State's Heisman Trophy hopes, tacked to the back of Collin Klein.
Baylor 52, No. 1 Kansas State 24. There was a party at midfield and everybody in green and gold was invited.
Informed his Baylor program had never beaten a No. 1 team, coach Art Briles' quick wit kicked in: "Well, we can check that one off. It's a lot of fun for a lot of people."
A week after the SEC looked likely to be on the outside of the national title race, Stanford knocked off Oregon on the West Coast just moments after the Bears did their own deed.
Time to give the SEC a warm welcome back into the title picture. For Baylor, though, it was about hosting its own party in the postseason. A bowl berth looked like a near impossibility for a four-win team facing three ranked opponents to close the season.
One down, two to go, and the Bears just proved they could beat anyone in the Big 12.
"We believed we were going to beat them, and if we did, we weren't going to be surprised when it happened," said Bears quarterback Nick Florence, who threw for a pair of scores and 232 yards through the air. "If you don't believe, get out of the locker room."
The Bears, 10-point underdogs, would be among the only ones not surprised at the win. Even more surprising? Baylor's dominance on the ground.
Kansas State was the Big 12's No. 2 rushing defense, giving up fewer than 100 yards per game and just 3.25 yards a carry. They'd given up just six touchdowns all season.
Baylor's front line erased K-State's front seven for 60 minutes, rushing for 342 yards, five touchdowns and 7 yards a carry.
"They were just knocking people over, creating holes for me to run through. It's how the game's supposed to be played," said running back Lache Seastrunk, whose 80-yard touchdown run sealed the game. The so-called "Lightning" finished with 185 yards on 19 carries, paired with his teammate, "Thunder" Glasco Martin, who bowled his way to 113 yards and three scores on 19 carries.
Seastrunk, though, wasn't joining in the postgame revelry at midfield. The Oregon transfer broke into tears on the sideline as the clock ticked off the final seconds.
"It was my first big game that I actually did well, and I'm not in a program where they just belittle you, I'm in a program that actually appreciates me and allows me to play to my ability," Seastrunk said.
Seastrunk couldn't help but get emotional again talking about his night, but wished his old teammates at Oregon had beaten Stanford and stayed in the hunt for the national title.
Back in Waco, though, it was Baylor dominance from start to finish, despite a pair of turnovers, including a Florence interception at the goal line. Florence was left shaking his head at the performance of his offensive line, fresh out of a locker room celebratory shower of Gatorade and water from teammates.
"They said Arthur Brown was really good, but I didn't feel that way to be honest with you. I'm not talking bad about him, I really didn't see him. I saw 26 [linebacker Jarell Childs] and the safeties more than him," Seastrunk said. "I'm just totally thankful that my linemen locked him up to the point where I really didn't see him."
Briles' first season without Heisman winner Robert Griffin III hasn't gone like he or anyone at Baylor had hoped, but they'll always have Saturday night. Another notch on Baylor's belt, which is collecting a whole lot of those these days. A 16-year bowl drought is now just a win away from becoming the first-ever three-year bowl streak in Baylor history.
Whether that happens or not, this night will never be forgotten. In Waco or the Little Apple.
"Coach Briles' main thing was just, 'Kill 'em. From the beginning," safety Ahmad Dixon, a Waco native, said. "And that's what we did."
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