Baylor's season opener on Thursday is the biggest football game the Bears will play all season. And no, this isn't just "coach speak" claiming that BU should be taking this thing "one game at a time". The entire 2008 campaign hinges on what happens this Thursday inside Floyd Casey Stadium.
If BU upsets Wake Forest, Scott Drew and Kim Mulkey won't be the only Baylor bench bosses coaching in December. Yep, I said it. If Baylor beats Wake Forest, the Bears will play in a bowl game.
BU would carry the momentum from its first win over a Top 25 team since 2004 into the Northwestern State game the following weekend. Even if the Bears didn't have momentum, YOU would have a better chance of properly pronouncing the city that Northwestern State University is in than the Demons have of beating BU. (It's Natchitoches, go ahead and try it). Even if you win, NSU won't. Baylor is 2-and-0.
After the Bears probably split their next two against Washington State and UConn, Baylor starts Big 12 play with a home loss to Oklahoma, then a win over Iowa State.
So, sitting at either 4-and-2 or an absolutely best case scenario of 5-and-1, Baylor will need to pull off one, probably two upsets the rest of the way to reach six wins and become bowl eligible. With road trips to Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Texas, and Texas Tech and home dates with Mizzou and the Aggies, it will be far from easy.
But think about it, ever since Coach Briles arrived in November he's been telling us about how he is teaching his team how to be CONFIDENT. Briles has won everywhere he's been. The Bears haven't won in years. But you can't teach winning. However, you CAN show your guys how to carry themselves. Practice confident. Play confident. I think a winning record in mid-October will give this team more confidence than any Baylor team has had since moving into the Big 12 in 1996. But will confidence be enough to rent shoes and go bowling for the first time since 1994?
And there is another "BUT". A poor performance in Thursday's opener will end BU's season before the rest of the teams in the Big 12 even start theirs. If on Thursday, the Bears go down faster than a George's Big O on Homecoming weekend, the Art Briles honeymoon is officially over. The season loses its buzz. The fans lose their optimism. The players never gain that confidence. A blow-out loss to Wake Forest and a 3-win season is a stretch.
So hey, no pressure. It's not like Waco Mayor Virginia DuPuy declared August 28th to be "Art Briles Day" in Waco during the 2008 Waco Chamber of Commerce Kickoff Luncheon or anything.