Bears Welcome No. 23 Wake Forest for 2008 Opener

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#23 Wake Forest (0-0, 0-0) at BAYLOR (0-0, 0-0)
Aug. 28, 2008 • Floyd Casey Stadium (Cap. 50,000) • Waco, Texas • 7:10 p.m. CDT

RADIO: Baylor-ISP Sports Radio Network (ESPN/KRZI 1660AM Waco / Sirius Satellite ch. 161)
TELEVISION: FSN [complete TV listings]
INTERNET AUDIO: live broadcast at
LIVE STATS: live GameTracker stats at

  Thursday, Aug. 28, 2008

Kickoff:  7:10 p.m. CDT

Location:  Waco, Texas

Stadium:  Floyd Casey Stadium

Capacity:  50,000

Series:  Baylor leads 4-0

      Waco:  Baylor leads 3-0

      Winston-Salem:  Never Met

      Neutral:  Baylor leads 1-0

      First Meeting:  Baylor 20-7 [Jan. 1, 1949]

      Last Meeting:  Baylor 31-0 [Sept. 23, 1961]



2007 Record:  3-9, 0-8 Big 12

Ranking:  NR/NR

Head Coach:  Art Briles

      Career Record:  34-28 (6th season)

      Baylor Record:  0-0 (1st season)

      vs. Wake Forest:  First Meeting

Returning Statistical Leaders:

      Rushing:  Jay Finley [55-223-2]

      Passing:  Blake Szymanski [264-461-18-2844-22]

      Receiving:  Justin Akers [43-426-4]

      Tackles:  Jordan Lake [67-53-120]



2007 Record:  9-4, 5-3 ACC

Ranking:  23rd/23rd

Head Coach:  Jim Grobe

      Career Record:  79-72-1 (14th season)

      Wake Forest Record:  46-39 (8th season)

      vs. Baylor:  First Meeting

Returning Statistical Leaders:

      Rushing:  Josh Adams [219-1002-11]

      Passing:  Riley Skinner [236-326-13-2204-12]

      Receiving:  Josh Adams [34-123-1]

      Tackles:  Chip Vaughn [62-43-105]



      Baylor opens its 2008 season Thursday, Aug. 28, hosting Wake Forest in the first of the Bears’ four non-Big 12 Conference games this fall. Kickoff between the Bears and the Demon Deacons is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CDT at Floyd Casey Stadium. This also is the season opener for Wake Forest.

      The Bears were 3-9 overall and 0-8 in Big 12 play last season. Baylor looks to snap an eight-game losing streak, the program’s longest skid since an eight-game streak during the 2001 season.

      The Demon Deacons were 9-4 overall and 5-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference last season. Wake Forest defeated Connecticut 24-10 at the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. The Deacons are ranked 23rd nationally in the preseason USA Today Coaches’ Poll and in the preseason Associated Press Top 25.

      Thursday’s game will be televised nationally on FSN.

      All Baylor football games are broadcast live on the Baylor/ISP Sports Radio Network; Waco’s 1660 ESPN Radio is the network’s flagship station. Live streaming audio and GameTracker also are available for all Baylor football games online at, the official website of Baylor Athletics and a member of the CBS College Sports network. Live streaming video also is available for all non-televised home games.



      Baylor and Wake Forest meet for the fifth time on the gridiron Thursday; the Bears have won each of the previous four meetings. This is the first time the programs have met since the 1961 season opener (Sept. 23) when Baylor posted a 31-0 victory over the Deamon Deacons in Waco.

      The teams first met Jan. 1, 1949, at the Dixie Bowl in Birmingham, Ala.; it was Baylor’s first bowl game and Wake Forest’s second (the Deacons defeated South Carolina 26-14 in the 1946 Gator Bowl).

      All three meetings since have been played in Waco. Baylor’s 10th-ranked squad defeated Wake Forest 42-0 Nov. 17, 1951, en route to an Orange Bowl berth. Wake Forest traveled to Waco again the following season for a Sept. 20 meeting. Baylor won that game 17-14.


      SERIES NOTES:  This is the third time the teams have met in each team’s season opener (1952, 1961). ... This is the first time the teams have played in a televised game. ... Baylor’s 42-0 victory in 1951 was its largest margin of victory in a shutout since defeating Blackland AAF 68-0 in the 1942 season opener. It was the Bears’ largest margin of victory in a shutout against a four-year college since defeating Trinity College 43-0 Oct. 5, 1929. In fact, Baylor has enjoyed only one shutout of larger proportion since — a 55-0 victory at Army in 1979. ... Wake Forest led 14-7 after three quarters in the 1952 meeting. However, Billy Hooper connected with Charles Cowley for a 19-yard touchdown pass to knot the score early in the fourth quarter. C.O. Brocato, the Bears’ starting center, booted a 23-yard field goal with 15 seconds remaining to give Baylor the 17-14 victory. It was Baylor’s sixth of eight consecutive regular-season wins against non-Southwest Conference opponents. ... Baylor’s 31-0 victory in the 1961 game was the last time the Bears opened a season with a shutout victory. ... Baylor rushed for 331 yards on 64 carries in the 1951 game. That rushing total is tied for the 25th-best, single-game tally in school history.





      Baylor out-gained Wake Forest by more than 300 yards, including a 220-yard edge in the rushing game as the Bears blanked Wake Forest 31-0 at home to open the 1961 season. It was the second consecutive season-opener shutout for Baylor, which blanked Colorado 26-0 the previous season.

      Ronnie Bull paced the ground attack for the Bears, rushing 10 times for 72 yards and one touchdown. In all, 15 different Bears recorded at least one carry in the game and five of them tallied at least 25 yards. Bull also had a 20-yard touchdown reception. Bobby Ply was 6-for-12 passing for 75 yards and two touchdowns.

      Baylor took control of the game early, scoring on each of its first two drives and before the Deamon Deacons had recorded a first down. A 21-yard Carl Choate field goal on the second quarter’s first play pushed the Bears’ lead to 17-0, a lead Baylor enjoyed at half time.

      The Bears opened the second half with a 10-play, 69-yard scoring drive, capped by Ply’s seven-yard touchdown pass to Herbert Harlan. Ply connected with Bull on a 20-yard, screen-play touchdown pass with 11:00 remaining in the game to cap the scoring.

      Baylor racked up 442 yards of total offense and dominated control of the ball. The Bears ran 76 plays to only 46 plays for Wake Forest, which managed only 127 yards of total offense.



      Baylor is 14-15 all-time against schools currently playing as members of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Bears have faced eight of the conference’s 12 members — Boston College (0-3), Clemson (1-0), Duke (0-1), Florida State (2-1), Georgia Tech (1-3), Maryland (1-1), Miami-FL (3-6), North Carolina State (2-0) and Wake Forest (4-0). Baylor is 7-3 against ACC teams at home.

      This is Baylor’s first game against a current ACC program since a 30-29 overtime loss at Boston College in the 1999 season opener. At that time, Boston College was a member of the Big East Conference. This is Baylor’s first game against a team that was an ACC member at the time of the game since defeating 20th-ranked North Carolina State 33-30 Sept. 19, 1998, in Waco.



      Baylor is 66-35-5 in season openers; however, the Bears have lost five of their last six and eight of their last 11 season openers.

      The Bears are 54-13-4 when opening the season at home, going 19-9 in such games since moving to Floyd Casey Stadium in 1950. Baylor opens its season at home for just the fifth time since 1995. The Bears fell to 13th-ranked Miami, Fla., 45-14 in 1997, defeated Arkansas State 24-3 in 2001, lost to UAB 24-19 in 2003 and fell to 22nd-ranked TCU 17-7 in 2006.



      Baylor is 78-23-5 all-time in home openers, including a 40-18 mark since moving to Floyd Casey Stadium in 1950. The Bears have won two of their last three home openers and are 6-4 in their last 10 such contests.



      Thursday’s game against Wake Forest will mark the earliest in a calendar year Baylor has ever played a football game save New Year’s Day. This marks the fifth time in school history Baylor has opened the season before turning the calendar to September. The Bears are 1-3 in August games, losing to Miami-FL 45-15 (Aug. 30, 1997), defeating North Texas 20-7 (Aug. 31, 2000), losing at California 70-22 (Aug. 31, 2002), and falling to UAB 24-19 (Aug. 30, 2003).



      Head coach Art Briles makes his Baylor debut Thursday against Wake Forest. Briles is the 25th head coach in the 106 years of Bears football. Baylor coaches are 11-9-4 in debut contests; however, five of the Bears’ last six head coaches have lost their debut, including the legendary Grant Teaff.

      Since John D. Bridgers’ Bears won 15-7 at Colorado in 1959, Chuck Reedy is the only Baylor coach to win his first game. Reedy, who led Baylor to a 42-39 victory over 25th-ranked Fresno State in 1994, and Briles are the only Baylor coaches to face a nationally ranked opponent in their first game with the Bears.



      Thursday’s game is the 113th televised game in Baylor football history; the Bears are 37-73-2 all-time in televised games. Baylor has lost 15 consecutive televised games; the Bears last victory in a televised game was their 20-10 triumph at Army on ESPN Classic in 2005. Baylor is 2-26 all-time on FSN, including its subsidiaries Fox College Sports and FSN-PayPerView.

      Baylor opens its season on television for the third consecutive season after going five seasons without opening on television.



      Baylor is 41-152-6 all-time against ranked opponents, 26-133-5 when unranked and playing a ranked opponent. The Bears are 2-38 against ranked opponents since the inception of the Big 12 Conference (33-30 vs. 20th-ranked North Carolina State in 1998, and 35-34 in overtime vs. 16th-ranked Texas A&M in 2004). Baylor has lost 12 straight to ranked foes since the 2004 victory over Texas A&M.

      Since the Associated Press began conducting weekly polls in 1936, Baylor has played at least one ranked opponent every season except 1987. Baylor has played at least one top-10 team every season since 1993.

      This is the 18th time Baylor has opened a season against an opponent ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. The Bears are 3-14 in such games with all but three of those games being played on the road.

      This is marks the third consecutive season Baylor has opened its season against a ranked opponent. The last time that happened was in Grant Teaff’s first three seasons. The Bears faced 16th-ranked Georgia in 1972, 11th-ranked Oklahoma in 1973 and top-ranked Oklahoma in 1974; the Bears lost all three of those games.



      Baylor opens its season on a day other than Saturday for the second time in three seasons. The Bears opened the 2006 season on a Sunday, the program’s first Sunday game since 1933. This is the first time Baylor has opened a season on a Thursday since its last Thursday game — Aug. 31, 2000, at North Texas.

      Since 1900, Baylor has played 92 non-Saturday, regular-season games, 23 of which were on Thanksgiving Day and 75 of which were played prior to the 1930 season. Baylor is 49-37-6 all-time in non-Saturday regular-season games, including a 14-7-2 mark on Thanksgiving Day.


Art Briles DAY IN WACO

      During the 2008 Waco Camber of Commerce Kickoff Luncheon held Aug. 21, Waco Mayor Virginia DuPuy declared Aug. 28 to be “Art Briles Day” in Waco.



      Baylor plays seven home games this season for only the sixth time since Floyd Casey Stadium opened in 1950. The Bears open with three straight home games for the first time since 1992 and only the second time since 1945.

      In all, Baylor has played at least three straight home games to open a season 13 times:  1899 (all four games that season were at home), 1904 (first six and seven of eight games that season were at home), 1909 (first six and seven of eight games that season were at home), 1913 (three), 1918 (three), 1919 (three), 1923 (three), 1928 (three), 1929 (four), 1935 (three), 1945 (three), 1992 (three) and 2008 (three).



      Baylor’s 2008 schedule ranks among the nation’s most difficult as the Bears face eight opponents who participated in bowl games last season. Phil Steele’s College Football Preview magazine ranks the Bears’ schedule as the nation’s seventh-toughest and the Big 12 Conference’s toughest, one spot nationally ahead of Colorado.

      In fact, Baylor is one of only three schools from BCS conferences to play at least three non-conference games against other teams from BCS conferences. Coincidentally, the Bears play both of the other such teams — Connecticut and Wake Forest (Washington State is the Bears’ other BCS non-conference opponent).

      Five of Baylor’s 12 opponents are ranked nationally to start the season:  Oklahoma (4th in the Associated Press Top 25/4th in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll), Missouri (6th/7th), Texas (11th/10th), Texas Tech (12th/14th) and Wake Forest (23rd/23rd). Baylor has not played more than four opponents ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 at time of game in one season since facing five such teams in 1998.



      Baylor’s 2008 roster features 10 student-athletes who were starting quarterbacks in high school, including two former signal callers who played quarterback beyond high school.

      Inside receiver John David Weed was on Baylor’s depth chart at quarterback last fall and saw action in three games during the 2007 season; he also was the starting quarterback at Tyler [Texas] Junior College during the 2005 and 2006 seasons.

      Another junior college transfer — running back Jeremy Sanders — made the move to another position after playing quarterback beyond high school. Sanders, a product of Marlin [Texas] High School, spent two seasons as the starting quarterback at Navarro [Texas] College before transferring to Baylor this season.

      The most interesting position change was that of Zac Scotton, who now plays defensive end. The six-foot-six, 255-pound Scotton made the switch away from quarterback prior to his junior season at Houston’s Cypress Creek High School after out-growing the position.

      Here is a list of other former quarterbacks on Baylor’s 2008 roster:


            PLAYER                       POS     PLAYED QUARTERBACK

            Jake La Mar                  FS        Bedford [Texas]-Covenant Christian Academy

            Luke La Mar                  WR       Bedford [Texas]-Covenant Christian Academy

            V.J. McElroy                 IR         Uvalde [Texas] HS

            Marlon Price                  S          Dallas-Lancaster HS

            Jeremy Sanders            RB        Marlin [Texas] HS; Navarro [Texas] College

            Zac Scotton                  DE       Houston-Cypress Creek HS

            Brad Taylor                   TE        Madisonville [Texas] HS

            John David Weed          IR         Houston-Cypress Creek HS; Tyler [Texas] Junior College; Baylor

            Stacy Williams              WR       Houston-Yates HS

            Kendall Wright               IR         Pittsburg [Texas] HS



      During spring spring practice, 10 Baylor players changed positions from last season. An 11th player made a position change during preseason drills as Jeremy Sanders moved from quarterback to running back.

      Position changes made during the spring were as follows:  Mikail Baker (wide receiver to inside receiver), Krys Buerck (wide receiver to cornerback), Elliott Coffey (safety to linebacker), Dwain Crawford (rover to cornerback), Antonio Johnson (defensive end to linebacker), V.J. McElroy (cornerback to inside receiver), Ray Sims (outside safety to running back), Matt Singletary (defensive end to inside receiver), Sam Sledge (offensive line to defensive line) and John David Weed (quarterback to inside receiver).



      Four Baylor student-athletes were named preseason All-Big 12 Conference by various outlets — wide receiver David Gettis, free safety Jordan Lake, linebacker Joe Pawelek and left tackle Jason Smith.

      Lake was the most highly decorated, also earning honorable mention All-America honors from The Sporting News. He was named all-conference by the league’s coaches, and he was a first-team all-conference selection by Lindy’s, The Sporting News, Blue Ribbon Yearbook and CollegeFootballNews. Lake also earned second-team all-Big 12 honors from Athlon and Phil Steele.

      Pawelek, who joined Lake on the coaches’ preseason All-Big 12 team, was a first-team all-conference selection by Athlon, Lindy’s, The Sporting News and CollegeFootballNews. He was tabbed second-team all-league by Phil Steele.

      Smith earned second-team all-Big 12 honors from Athlon and Lindy’s, while he was a fourth-team all-conference pick by Phil Steele. Gettis was named third-team all-Big 12 by Phil Steele.



      Jordan Lake is one of 40 student-athletes included on the 2008 Jim Thorpe Award Watch List. The award is given annually to the nation’s best defensive back.

      A consensus second-team All-Big 12 honoree as a sophomore in 2007, Lake registered six double-digit tackle games a year ago and finished the season with 120 total tackles, the most by a Baylor player since 2003. He ranked third in the Big 12 (first among defensive backs) and 30th nationally with 10.0 tackles per game last season.

      A screening committee will meet Oct. 3 to narrow the field to 10 or 12 semifinalists. Three finalists will be selected Nov. 24. The names of these finalists will be submitted to a national panel of sports writers, sportscasters, coaches and former players who vote to determine the winner. The winner will be announced at the ESPN College Football Awards Show.

      Formal presentation of the Jim Thorpe Award takes place at ceremonies in Oklahoma City on the first Tuesday in February following the national signing date for college football recruits.



      Joe Pawelek was named to the 2008 Butkus Award Watch List; the award is given annually to the nation’s top collegiate linebacker. Pawelek, a 2006 Freshman All-American, is one of 66 student-athletes on the initial watch list, including 2007 winner James Laurinaitis.

      A product of Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas, Pawelek has been among Baylor's leaders in tackles each of the past two seasons. He led the Bears with 86 stops as a freshman in 2006 and was second on the team with 99 tackles last year. A 2007 All-Big 12 Conference selection, Pawelek tallied eight tackles for loss, including two sacks, forced three fumbles, recovered two fumbles and had one interception last season.

      Pawelek is one of only four linebackers from the Big 12 on the Butkus Award Watch List, joining Joe Mortensen of Kansas, Ryan Reynolds of Oklahoma and Sean Witherspoon of Missouri.



      J.D. Walton is one of 42 players on the Rimington Trophy’s 2008 watch list. He is one of seven Big 12 Conference student-athletes on the list. The Rimington Trophy annually recognizes the nation’s top center.

      One of three Baylor offensive linemen to start every 2007 game, Walton was a key cog along a Bears’ line which yielded just 21 sacks (on a school-record 561 pass attempts), the program’s fewest since 1995. He shared the team’s 2007 Best Offensive Lineman Award with tackle Jason Smith.

      Walton saw action on 65 or more plays in 10 games with a high of 97 at Buffalo. For the season, he played 911 snaps, most by a Baylor offensive performer in 2007, and second-most overall behind free safety Jordan Lake’s 974.

      Included on the 2008 Spring Watch List are two finalists from the 2007 Watch List, as well as the award’s 2007 winner in Arkansas’ Jonathan Luigs. The 2008 winner will be honored at the Rimington Trophy presentation banquet Jan. 17 at the Rococo Theatre in Lincoln, Neb.



      Seven former walk-ons have been awarded scholarships for the 2008-09 academic year:  Joe Bennett, Carter Brunelle, Ty Findley, Chris Greisenbeck, Ryan Roberts, Sam Sledge and Larry Washington. Baylor has awarded 37 former walk-ons with scholarships since 2003. Most notable of that group was punter Daniel Sepulveda, who was the first two-time winner of the Ray Guy Award and was drafted in fourth round by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007.



      U.S. News & World Report recently ranked Baylor at No. 76 — only one point from tying five other universities at No. 71 — among the nation’s top national doctoral-granting universities. The ranking in the magazine’s 2009 edition of “America’s Best Colleges” represents Baylor’s second-highest overall U.S. News ranking, just behind last year’s ranking at No. 75. The magazine evaluated more than 1,400 accredited four-year schools.

      Universities in the state of Texas continue to lead the Big 12 Conference among the publication’s “Best National Universities.” Among Big 12 schools, Baylor is the third highest-ranked university behind only Texas (47th) and Texas A&M (64th).

      Baylor ranks ahead of Colorado (77th); Iowa State, Kansas and Nebraska (tied for 89th); Missouri (96th); Oklahoma (108th); and Kansas State (130th). Oklahoma State and Texas Tech both are in the third tier.

      Baylor is the fifth highest-rated university in Texas, behind Rice (17th), Texas, Texas A&M and SMU (66th). TCU (113th) is the only other Texas school ranked in the magazine’s top 130.



      Baylor’s official athletic web site can be found at The comprehensive site, which includes releases, photos, biographical sketches and audio broadcasts, is part of the CBS College Sports network. CBS College Sports currently hosts sites for more than 100 universities, including five Big 12 schools.



      The radio call from all of Baylor’s games can be heard free of charge live on the Internet at



      “Inside Baylor Sports,” the award winning weekly TV show that covers all aspects of Baylor athletics, returns for its 10th season during the 2008-2009 academic year.

      Senior Producer Robert Shiekh and Producer Kyle Lewis provide viewers an inside look at Baylor athletics with thorough highlights, in-depth interviews and imaginative features on all 18 sports presented in a fast-paced, entertaining style. Co-hosts John Morris and Lori Fogleman guide viewers through the best coverage of Baylor athletics on television.

      “Inside Baylor Sports” airs Sundays, Aug. 24, 2008 through June 7, 2009, at 10:30 p.m. CT on KCEN-TV in Central Texas. The program also airs weekly throughout the region on FSN Southwest at 1 p.m. each Wednesday beginning Aug. 27 and is archived on the web at “Inside Baylor Sports” also may been seen nationally on CBS’ College Sports Television.



      Baylor returns to action Sept. 6, hosting Northwestern State for a 6 p.m. CDT kickoff at Floyd Casey Stadium. The Bears and the Demons have played just once before, a 47-10 Baylor victory in Waco during the 2006 season. This is the first time Baylor has played an opponent with the word “demon” in its nickname in consecutive weeks.



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