This is not a fluke.
This was not a blip on the radar that will vanish once the 2014 season arrives. Baylor football is here to stay, so you might as well get used to it.
For the first time ever, the Bears won the Big 12. They started the day needing help, and help arrived with Oklahoma’s upset over rival Oklahoma State. From there, all Baylor needed to do was get past Texas, a feat that seemed relatively easy on paper.
Heading into the half tied 3-3, however, the scenario was far from assumed.
In the second half, Baylor finally got the offense rolling. Case McCoy's fourth-quarter interception sealed it for the Bears, and they cruised to a 30-10 win.
As has been the case all year, Bryce Petty was exceptional, throwing for 287 yards a two scores. It wasn’t the same video game-like numbers that he posted early on in the season, but our expectations of his play are sky-high.
The Baylor running game also got things churning. Glasco Martin and Lache Seastrunk totaled 180 yards on the ground, showing just how good this duo can be when healthy.
The overall performance wasn’t jaw-dropping, but the Bears weathered injuries, bounced back following an ugly loss in Stillwater and will now head to the Fiesta Bowl where they will almost certainly take on Central Florida.
The season should be appreciated. For a moment, forget about the bigger picture and what this accomplishment can build toward. Just think about how much the perception of the program has changed in only a few months.
Baylor has gone from gimmicky with a likable head coach with a lovely Texan voice to feared contender. It's added a defense, and yes, the offense became slightly more ridiculous than it already was. It developed yet another quarterback—who will be back next season—and continued to push the limits on just how fast you can go.
And perhaps the most significant part of this movement is the lack of ceiling. There’s no reason to believe this program won’t continue to grow and thrive with Art Briles driving the ship.
His comments following the game paint a picture of where they are and where they’re headed.
"This is a defining moment for our program and one we hopefully will be able to repeat multiple times." -Art Briles— Baylor Football (@BUFootball) December 8, 2013
After all, the team just locked up Briles through 2023. This investment is not just about years, either. Briles will reportedly make more than $4 million per season, according to The Dallas Morning News' Chuck Carlton.
Of course, coaching contracts in college football aren’t exactly the final word. With Briles, however, it’s always felt different.
His departure has never felt imminent, and his love for the city, state and school has been genuine. The enormous commitment from the university only makes the unlikely that much more so.
With its incredible 2013, Baylor will continue to grow. It will attract more recruits—becoming an even bigger factor in the state of Texas—and it will stockpile its roster with playmakers.
In a lot of ways, Baylor is on Oregon's path. It embraced uniform changes while creating its own unique style, and most importantly, the results are pouring in to back it all up.
From there, it snowballs. A trip to the BCS and Big 12 title turns into a yearly presence in this conversation. Expectations are formed, a pressure that will be welcomed. This is where Baylor is headed. Before it gets there, however, it will celebrate its conference championship with a trip to the BCS.
And then it's off to limits unknown.