As Baylor gets ready to play Texas for a shot at the Big 12 Championship, it makes you think about just how many important games Baylor has actually played during the Big 12 era.
That number varies based on your definition of “important," but it’s safe to say Baylor has played in fewer than most college football teams from 1996 to the present.
For years, fans in green and gold were forced to hide behind the names of Grant Teaff, Mike Singletary, Walter Abercrombie, Thomas Everett and James Francis in order to even justify Baylor’s existence as a member of an elite conference. That’s what happens when your team goes 14-98 in conference in the first 14 years of the Big 12.
Needless to say, there weren’t too many Baylor games that meant anything to the casual college football fan or the college football landscape in general.
That doesn’t mean, though, that 14 years went by without anything good happening for Baylor fans. Try telling lifelong Bears fans that the overtime victory over Texas A&M in 2004 doesn’t matter or the 2006 Homecoming comeback against Kansas wasn’t something special to see.
Those fans will probably tell you that enduring the misery of rooting for those Baylor teams makes watching Art Briles’ Baylor teams that much sweeter.
When a team only wins a couple games a year, it's pretty easy for its supporters to remember those games more vividly.
Briles did—and is still doing—what his four predecessors weren’t able to accomplish. That’s providing relevancy for Baylor football as a Big 12 team. Relevancy of any sort, really.
In just the past four seasons, Baylor has played in more football games of any real significance than in the 14 years before. Taking it a step further, an argument could be made that each game in the 2013 season was more significant than any other game because of what they added up to for the Bears: a top-10 ranking with the chance to win the conference and make a BCS bowl.
The purpose of this article is not to dismiss more than a decade of school and conference history, however. It is to recognize the enormous gap between the state of Baylor football six years ago and the state of Baylor football in 2013. Also, the purpose is to re-live the program’s greatest moments of the Big 12 era to date.
All of Baylor’s wins from 1996 through Week 13 of the 2013 season (78, to be exact) were under consideration, but only 10 made the final cut. Some were obvious choices, and some needed a little more research to uncover.
There is no explicit criterion, but each game was picked for specific reasons explained on each slide. In general, these are the 10 most memorable games thus far in the Big 12 era.