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Bears, Aggies Eye 104th Battle of the Brazos

LB Joe Pawelek is tied for 17th in the Big 12 Conference with 7.25 tackles per game.

LB Joe Pawelek is tied for 17th in the Big 12 Conference with 7.25 tackles per game.

Sept. 24, 2007

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GAME FIVE

BAYLOR (3-1, 0-0) at TEXAS A&M (3-1, 0-0)

SATURDAY, SEPT. 29, 2007    11:30 A.M. CDT

KYLE FIELD (82,500)

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS

 

SERIES RECORD

            Texas A&M leads 64-30-9

 

COACHES

            BAYLOR:  Guy Morriss (TCU, 1973)

                        Record at Baylor:  18-32 (5th season)

                        Career Record:  27-46 (7th season)

                        Record vs. Texas A&M:  1-3

            TEXAS A&M:  Dennis Franchione (Pittsburg State, 1973)

                        Record at Texas A&M:  28-24 (5th season)

                        Career Record:  183-97-2 (25th season)

                        Record vs. Baylor:  3-1

 

BAYLOR/ISP RADIO NETWORK

            John Morris, play-by-play

            J.J. Joe, color analyst

            Ricky Thompson, sideline

            Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 161

 

VERSUS NETWORK TELEVISION

            Ron Thulin, play-by-play

            Kelly Stouffer, color analyst

            Lewis Johnson, sideline reporter

 

INTERNET FEEDS

            www.BaylorBears.com

 

 

BAYLOR OPENS BIG 12 PLAY

            Baylor returns to action Saturday, Sept. 29, traveling to College Station, Texas, for a Big 12 Conference game at Texas A&M. Kickoff between the Bears and the Aggies is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. CDT at Kyle Field on the Texas A&M campus. This is the 2007 Big 12 opener for both teams.

            The Bears (3-1) have won three straight after a 34-21 victory at Buffalo last Saturday night. Baylor is 1-1 on the road this season, losing at 22nd-ranked TCU to open the season.

            The Aggies (3-1) saw their three-game winning streak snapped last Thursday night, falling 34-17 at Miami, Fla. Texas A&M is 3-0 at home this season.

            Saturday's game will be televised nationally on the Versus Network. Fans in Waco can see the game on Grande Cable channel 23 or Time Warner Cable channel 125. Versus also is available on Dish Network (153) and on DirecTV (608).

 

BAYLOR-TEXAS A&M SERIES

            Saturday is the 104th meeting between Baylor and Texas A&M in football, the second most-played series in Baylor football history behind only TCU (105 meetings). The Aggies hold a 64-30-9 advantage in the all-time series, which dates back to a 33-0 A&M victory in 1899. Texas A&M also leads the series 29-10-3 in games played at College Station.

            Baylor and Texas A&M have played every season since 1931 save the 1943 and 1944 seasons when Baylor did not field a team due to World War II.

 

            SERIES NOTES:  Texas A&M holds a 10-1 advantage in the series since the inception of the Big 12 Conference in 1996. ... Baylor has not won at Kyle Field since a 20-16 victory in 1984. ... The last three meetings have been decided by 14 total points since A&M's 63-point victory in 2003. The 2004 and 2005 games both went to overtime. ... In 1936, Baylor and 14th-ranked Texas A&M battled to a scoreless tie in the Bears' first-ever game against a ranked opponent. The following season, Baylor posted its first-ever victory over a ranked opponent as the 15th-ranked Bears blanked the 13th-ranked Aggies 13-0. That also was Baylor's first game as a ranked team; it propelled the Bears to a 5-0 record and a No. 5 national ranking. ... A 21-21 tie in 1951 stopped Baylor's 4-0 season start. ... In 1965, Kenny Stockdale was 20-of-27 for 286 yards and two TDs as the Bears shutout the Aggies 31-0. That yardage total ranks 19th all-time at Baylor. ... In the 1979 Baylor victory, Mike Singletary recorded 22 tackles. That tally still ranks eighth in school history. ... Saturday's game marks only the second time ever Baylor and Texas A&M have met in September. The only previous September meeting was the Bears' 17-7 victory Sept. 15, 1979, in Waco.

 

BAYLOR IN CONFERENCE OPENERS

            Baylor is 45-41-4 (.522) all-time in conference openers. The Bears are 3-8 in Big 12 Conference openers; however, Baylor has won two of its four Big 12 openers under head coach Guy Morriss. Baylor won its Big 12 opener in 2002 (def. Kansas 35-32), in 2003 (def. Colorado 42-30) and last season (def. Kansas State 17-3). Baylor has never won a Big 12 opener on the road (1996 at Texas Tech, 1998 at Colorado, 1999 at Oklahoma, 2001 at Iowa State, 2004 at Texas, 2005 at Texas A&M).

            This is only the second time Baylor has played Texas A&M in its Big 12 opener; the Bears suffered a 16-13 overtime loss at Kyle Field in 2005. Baylor faced Texas A&M to open Southwest Conference play only once -- a 17-7 Bears' victory at Floyd Casey Stadium in 1979.

            In 79 seasons as a member of the Southwest Conference, Baylor was 42-33-4 (.557) in league openers. The Bears won six of their last seven, 10 of their last 12 and 14 of their last 17 such SWC games.

 

QUICK NOTES

  Baylor is 3-1 for the first time since 2005 when the Bears started 4-1.

  Baylor currently rides a three-game winning streak, its first since the 2005 season (first three games) and its third three-game winning streak under head coach Guy Morriss (2003). ... A win Saturday against Texas A&M would give Baylor its first four-game winning streak since opening the 1991 season with a five-game run.

  Baylor is 14-11-1 all-time when 3-1; the Bears are 6-3 in such games since 1985.

  Baylor is 10-7-1 all-time when 3-1 following a win; the Bears are 4-1 in such games since 1985.

  This is only the fourth time Baylor has been 3-1 with a three-game winning streak. Baylor is 2-1 all-time in such situations, winning in 1910 (TCU), winning in 1976 (SMU) and losing 1981 (at Houston).

  Baylor is 120-61-2 all-time in September, including a 12-6 mark under Morriss.

  Baylor is 19-6-0 all-time on the fifth Saturday of September, including an 8-3 mark on Sept. 29.

  Baylor has forced at least one turnover in 24 of the last 27 games, including 16 games with at least two turnovers forced in that time.

  Baylor's defense has held the opposing offense without a first-quarter touchdown in 17 of the last 26 games, including 14 first-quarter shutouts in that time.

  Baylor has out-scored its opponents 38-7 in the first quarter through four games this season.

  Baylor has scored 110 points in its last three games, its most in a three-game span since scoring 113 against Southern California (27), TCU (42) and SMU (44) during the 1994 season.

  Baylor has scored 34-plus points in three consecutive games for the first time since accomplishing the feat against Missouri (47), SMU (45) and Houston (38) in 1991.

  Baylor has won 16 consecutive games when scoring at least 34 points, dating back to a 49-42 triple-overtime loss to Missouri in 1996. The Bears have won 21 consecutive games when scoring at least 34 points in regulation, dating back to a 63-35 loss to Texas in the 1994 season finale.

  Baylor has been flagged 22 times for 179 yards through this season's first four games. Last year, the Bears were penalized 37 times for 367 yards through the first four games.

  Baylor's defense has logged 12 quarterback sacks through the first four games of the 2007 season after recording only 11 sacks in 12 games last year.

 

BAYLOR-TEXAS A&M SERIES

Overall:  Texas A&M leads 64-30-9

            Waco:  Texas A&M leads 33-19-6

            College Station:  Texas A&M leads 29-10-3

            Neutral Site:  Texas A&M leads 2-1

            Since Start of Big 12:  Texas A&M leads 10-1

 

SERIES SUPERLATIVES

Most Points Scored, Baylor:  47 (1901)

Most Points Scored, Texas A&M:  73 (2003)

Most Points Scored, both teams:  83 (2003, TAMU 73-10)

Largest Margin of Victory, Baylor:  47-0 (1901)

Largest Margin of Victory, Texas:  73-10 (2003)

 

LAST MEETING

TEXAS A&M 31, BAYLOR 21

OCT. 28, 2006    FLOYD CASEY STADIUM    WACO, TEXAS

            Mike Goodson rumbled 64 yards on a third-and-four with 2:15 remaining to seal 22nd-ranked Texas A&M's 31-21 victory over the Bears in front of a stadium-record crowd of 51,385.

            The Bears suffered more than just the loss of the game as senior quarterback Shawn Bell sustained a career-ending knee injury during the fourth quarter.

            Texas A&M snapped a 21-21 tie on Layne Neumann's 22-yard field goal with 6:32 remaining. Baylor managed one first down on its ensuing possession, but the Bears were forced to punt the ball away with 4:14 to play.

            The Aggies picked up one first down and then essentially put the game away with Bennett's TD run.

            Baylor had one final chance as Dominique Zeigler tried to connect with a wide open Trent Shelton on a flanker pass; however, the ball just tipped off Shelton's hands and landed incomplete. Bell's replacement, redshirt freshman Blake Szymanski, was intercepted four plays later to end Baylor's chances.

            Bell finished the game 14-of-20 for 260 yards and one TD. He ended his career as the owner of 21 school records, including every major career and season passing record save career passing yardage, in which he finished second (329 yards shy of J.J. Joe's mark).

            Zeigler caught five passes for 180 yards and a TD; he had 166 yards on four snags in the first half.

            Texas A&M took the game's first lead on a 3-yard Martellus Bennett TD reception from Stephen McGee with 8:13 remaining in the first quarter; however, the Aggies missed the extra point.

            Baylor answered 78 seconds later on a 79-yard Bell-to-Zeigler TD pass. After a 2-yard Jorvorskie Lane TD run early in the second quarter, Brandon Whitaker found the end zone from 3 yards out at the 9:27 mark.

            The Aggies recaptured the lead on the first half's final score with 7:12 remaining before the break. On third-and-five, McGee connected with Bennett, who bounced off a would-be tackler and raced 75 yards for a TD.

            Baylor pulled even again at 21-21 on the first possession of the third quarter. Paul Mosley capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run at the 10:19 mark.

 

BAYLOR-COLORADO GAME TIME SET

            Baylor's Oct. 6 home game against Colorado has been set for a 6 p.m. CDT kickoff at Floyd Casey Stadium. The game will not be televised. This is Colorado's first visit to Floyd Casey Stadium since the Bears' 42-30 victory in 2003. Baylor won last year's meeting 34-31 in triple overtime at Boulder.

 

LAKE NAMED BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK

            FS Jordan Lake was named Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Week, the league office announced Monday. Graham Harrell (Texas Tech) was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week, while Jeremy Maclin (Missouri) earned special teams honors.

            A product of Memorial High School in Houston, Lake is the second Bear to earn Big 12 Player of the Week honors this season. QB Blake Szymanski was the offensive honoree the week of Sept. 10. Lake is the first Baylor player to be named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week since Dwain Crawford was so honored following the Bears' 17-3 victory over Kansas State last season.

            Lake spearheaded Baylor's defensive effort in a 34-21 victory at Buffalo last Saturday. With two fumbles forced and two interceptions, Lake became the first Bear to force four turnovers in a game since the NCAA began recognizing fumbles forced as an official statistic in 1992. His four turnovers led to 13 Baylor points, the difference in the game.

            The first Baylor player with a multiple-interception game since Crawford had two picks in last season's Kansas State game, Lake also recovered one of his two fumbles forced.

 

BAYLOR IN TELEVISED GAMES

            Saturday's game is the 108th televised game in Baylor football history; the Bears are 37-68-2 all-time in televised games. Baylor is 2-15 in televised games under head coach Guy Morriss, including an 0-1 mark this season. Baylor has lost 10 consecutive televised games; the Bears last victory in a televised game was their 20-10 triumph at Army on ESPN Classic in 2005. This is Baylor's first-ever sporting event televised on Versus.

            Baylor opens its Big 12 Conference season on television for the fourth time in the last five seasons. The Bears are 10-6 all-time in televised conference openers. Baylor is 0-8-1 all-time against Texas A&M in televised games.

 

BEARS HISTORICALLY SUCCESSFUL IN SEPTEMBER

            Baylor is 120-61-2 all-time in September, including a 12-6 mark under head coach Guy Morriss. The Bears are assured of an above-.500 record in September this season, accomplishing the feat for the fourth time in Morriss' five-year tenure.

            The Bears have played at least one game within the year's ninth month each season since 1933. Baylor's first September game was a 17-5 loss to Trinity College in Dallas during the 1902 season. The Bears won 23 consecutive September games from 1927 to 1946 and 18 conseuctive September contests from 1950 to 1961.

            Baylor has played at least three September games and gone winless only twice, going 0-3 in 1978 and going 0-4 in 1999. Interestingly, the Bears' two September ties came in consecutive weeks during the 1975 season -- a 10-10 draw at home against Auburn and a 14-14 dead-heat at ninth-ranked Michigan.

 

SEVERAL KEY BEARS RETURN TO ACTION

            Baylor expects four players who missed last Saturday's game at Buffalo to return to action for this week's game at Texas A&M:  LB Antonio Jones (ankle), DE Geoff Nelson (hamstring), OT Jason Smith (MCL) and WR Thomas White (ankle). Nelson and Smith both are starters, while Jones and White both are second on the depth chart at their respective positions.

            Jones and Nelson missed only the Buffalo game, while Smith has been out since the season opener at TCU. White missed the TCU and Buffalo games due to injury; he also missed the Texas State game due to coaches' decision.

            Two other regulars will not play in Saturday's game at Texas A&M:  WR Mikail Baker (collar bone) and OT Thad Boatner.

 

SZYMANSKI ALREADY NEARING SEASON TOUCHDOWNS LIST

            With 14 touchdown passes through the season's first four games, QB Blake Szymanski already is nearing Baylor's all-time, single-season touchdown passes list. He enters Saturday's game at Texas A&M tied with Adrian Burk (1949) and J.J. Joe (1992) for fourth place on Baylor's all-time single-season touchdowns passing list. Szymanski needs one touchdown pass to tie Larry Isbell (1950) for third place and two touchdown passes to tie Terry Southall (1966) for second place. Shawn Bell established Baylor's single-season record last season with 19 touchdown passes.

            Szymanski established a Baylor record for touchdown passes by a sophomore in the season's third game. With three touchdown passes last Saturday at Buffalo, Szymanski surpassed Cody Carlson's previous school mark for touchdowns by an underclassman (Carlson's record was 12 in 1983).

            Through the season's first four games, Szymanski is on pace for 312 completions, 3,633 passing yards and 42 touchdown passes, all of which would shatter Baylor's single-season records.

 

BEARS HAVE 20/20 VISION

            In four-plus seasons under head coach Guy Morriss, Baylor has established a bit of a vicenary rule on the scoreboard. The Bears are 16-11 when scoring at least 20 points and 2-21 when scoring less than 20 points since the start of the 2003 season. Likewise, the Bears are 10-3 when holding the opponent to fewer than 20 points and 8-29 when allowing 20 or more points in that time.

 

WHITAKER EYES RECEPTIONS MARK

            RB Brandon Whitaker enters the Texas A&M game three receptions shy of cracking Baylor's career receptions top 10 list; he has 73 career catches for 406 yards and three touchdowns.

            Whitaker also needs four receptions to tie Jeffrey Murray's school record for career receptions by a non-receiver. Murray tallied 77 receptions as a fullback from 1986 to 1989. Whitaker recorded 30 receptions in each of the last two seasons. He established career highs with nine receptions for 57 yards at Washington State last season.

 

INSIDE RECEIVERS FEAST

            Inside and and slot receivers have accounted for 45.4 percent of Baylor's receptions this season (49 of 108), 47.9 percent of Baylor's receiving yards (593 of 1,237) and 35.7 percent of Baylor's touchdown receptions (5 of 14).

            Baylor's top two receivers in all three categories are inside receivers.  Justin Akers leads the team in receptions (19) and yards (230), while Brad Taylor ranks second both in receptions (13) and in yards (210). Akers leads the team with three touchdown receptions, while Taylor is one of three Bears with two touchdown grabs. Slot receiver Justin Fenty is third on the team in receptions (12) and fifth in yards (114). IR Kyle Mitchell also has three catches for 19 yards, and Eddy Newton has two receptions for 20 yards.

 

MORRISS COACHES 50TH GAME AT BAYLOR

            Last Saturday's 34-21 victory at Buffalo was the 50th game of head coach Guy Morriss' tenure at Baylor. It also was his 18th win as the Bears' head coach. Morriss is one victory shy of tying Bob Woodruff (1947-49) for eighth on Baylor's all-time coaching victories list and five wins shy of tying Chuck Reedy (1993-96) for seventh.

            Baylor earned just 17 total victories in its first seven seasons as a member of the Big 12 Conference (1996-2002), including only four conference wins. The Bears have won 18 total games and seven Big 12 games during Morriss' tenure.

 

FIRST-QUARTER DEFENSIVE SUCCESS CONTINUES

            Baylor's defense allowed just 57 first-quarter points in 12 games last season, averaging 4.8 points per game allowed in the opening period. Two of the seven first-quarter touchdowns allowed by the Bears last season were scores by the opponent's defense, meaning Baylor's defense allowed only 3.6 first-quarter points per game. The Bears' defense allowed only six first-quarter touchdowns (two of which were followed by missed extra points) and one field goal. No team scored more than one offensive touchdown, only two scored more than once -- Texas Tech (offensive touchdown and field goal) and Oklahoma (offensive and defensive touchdown).

            That success has carried over to the 2007 season as the Bears have allowed only one first-quarter score through the first four games. Baylor held TCU, Texas State and Buffalo scoreless in the opening period and allowed one first-quarter touchdown against Rice.

            In 26 games since the 2005 season opener at SMU, Baylor has held the opponent without a first-quarter offensive touchdown 17 times with 14 first-quarter shutouts. Texas Tech last season is the only opponent to record more than one first-quarter offensive score during that time. Baylor has not allowed multiple first-quarter offensive touchdowns since UAB scored three first-quarter touchdowns in the 2004 season opener, a span of 37 games. The Bears have held the opponent without a first-quarter offensive touchdown 21 times and scoreless 16 times in those 37 games.

 

NOTES FROM THE BUFFALO GAME

  Baylor improved to 2-0 all-time against current Mid-American Conference members.

  Baylor improved to 26-40-2 all-time in games played east of the Mississippi River, including a 4-1 mark in games played in New York.

  Baylor improved to 16-11 under head coach Guy Morriss when scoring at least 20-plus points and 10-2 when scoring 30-plus points.

  Baylor snapped a four-game losing streak in road games.

  Baylor eclipsed the 100-yard rushing plateau for the first time since rushing for 110 yards at Colorado last season.

  Baylor eclipsed the 200-yard rushing plateau for the first time since rushing for 215 yards at SMU in the 2005 season opener.

  Baylor's rushing total was its highest since rushing for 280 yards against Samford in 2002.

  Baylor's five turnovers forced were a season high; the Bears forced five turnovers on three different occasions last season.

  Baylor tallied more rushing yards (229) than passing yards (172) for the first time since the 2005 game against Texas.

  DE Damien Taylor and RB Jay Finley both made their first career starts.

  FS Jordan Lake's first-quarter interception was his first since the play on which he sustained a broken collarbone that ended his season last year against Kansas State. Lake also became the first Baylor player with multiple interceptions in a game since Dwain Crawford had two picks against Kansas State last season.

  Finley established a career high with 80 yards rushing; his previous high was 28 yards against Rice.

  Szymanski established a career high with 91 yards rushing, the best single-game rushing effort by a Baylor quarterback since Odell James had 92 yards rushing against Kansas State in 1998.

  Szymanski became the first Baylor quarterback to lead the team in rushing since Aaron Karas accomplished the feat against Southern Illinois in the 2001 season finale.

  Szymanski's 39-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown run was the longest rush of his career.

  Szymanski saw his streak of four consecutive games with at least 200 yards passing end.

  Szyamanski has thrown for three-plus touchdowns in three consecutive games; he has accounted for four-plus touchdowns in three straight games.

  IR Joe Bennett's 43-yard, third-quarter punt return was the longest of his career.

  IR Justin Akers tied his career high with seven receptions.

 

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

            Baylor has recorded 14 non-offensive scores in 50 games under head coach Guy Morriss, notching at least one such score in each of Morriss' four seasons.

 

• 2003 vs. UAB -- James Todd blocked punt for safety

• 2003 vs. Colorado -- Jamaal Harper 7-yard fumble return (forced by Derrick Cash)

• 2003 at Kansas -- James Todd blocked punt recovery in end zone (blocked by Michael Boyd)

• 2003 at Kansas State -- Robert Quiroga 98-yard kickoff return

• 2003 vs. Texas Tech -- Robert Quiroga 100-yard kickoff return

• 2003 vs. Oklahoma State -- Willie Andrews 30-yard fumble return (forced by John Garrett)

• 2004 vs. Texas State -- Justin Crooks 9-yard fumble return (forced by Montez Murphy)

• 2004 vs. North Texas -- Braelon Davis blocked punt recovery in end zone (blocked by Davis)

• 2004 vs. Iowa State -- Braelon Davis defensive PAT (interception return)

• 2005 vs. Samford -- Jamaal Harper 29-yard fumble return (forced by Colin Allred)

• 2005 vs. Samford -- Shaun Rochon 85-yard punt return

• 2005 at Oklahoma -- Shaun Rochon 98-yard kickoff return

• 2005 vs. Oklahoma State -- Colin Allred 25-yard interception return

• 2006 vs. Oklahoma -- Braelon Davis 56-yard fumbler return (forced by Davis)

 

BAYLOR TURNS OVER A NEW LEAF

            Baylor ranked 113th nationally in turnover margin and forced just nine opponent miscues over the 11-game 2004 campaign, but the last three seasons it has reversed that trend. The Bears' defense has forced 65 turnovers (36 interceptions, 29 fumble recoveries) since the start of the 2005 season to tie for second in the Big 12 and tie for eighth nationally among Division I-A teams in that span. Baylor has come up with at least one turnover in 24 of 27 games since the start of the 2005 season, including 16 games with two or more.

            Baylor forced 34 turnovers over 23 games in Guy Morriss' first two seasons, compared to the 65 it has totaled over the last 27 outings. Here's a look at the teams with most turnovers forced over the last three seasons:

 

TURNOVERS GAINED              2005     2006     2007     TOTAL

    1.     TCU                              40         26         9          75

    2.     Louisiana Tech              31         29         10         70

    3.     Texas                           27         32         10         69

            Western Michigan          25         34         10         69

    4.     Boston College             18         37         13         68

    5.     Florida                          31         29         6          66

            Oregon                         32         22         12         66

            South Florida                30         25         11         66

    8.     BAYLOR                       29         27         9          65

            Oklahoma                     23         32         10         65

    10.    Southern California        38         22         4          64

    11.    Louisiana-Monroe          26         34         3          63

            Southern Mississippi     34         25         4          63

            West Virginia                 31         24         8          63

            Missouri                        24         28         11         63

    15.    Boise State                   26         31         5          62

            Georgia                        29         30         2          62

            Miami (Ohio)                 35         22         5          62

            Nevada                         23         37         2          62

 

FORMER WALK-ONS EARN SCHOLARSHIPS

            Six senior walk-on members of the Baylor football team were awarded scholarships for the 2007-08 academic year:  OG Ricky Hasoon, LB Daniel Lopez, CB Ralph Rodriguez, OL Ted Tanner, SS Zach Jones and FB Keegan Vann.

            At the end of spring practice, the Baylor staff also placed junior WR Thomas White on scholarship. Including the seniors receiving scholarships prior to the start of the season, Baylor's 2007 roster features eight walk-ons who have earned scholarships.

            Since Morriss' arrival in 2003, 30 Bears have gone from walk-on to scholarship status.

 

BAYLOR AMONG NATION'S BEST COLLEGES

            Baylor University ranks as the nation's 75th-best institute for higher learning, according to U.S. News & World Report's 2008 "America's Best Colleges" edition. Baylor is ranked third among Big 12 Conference schools, trailing only Texas (44th) and Texas A&M (62nd). Last year, Baylor was the fourth-ranked Big 12 school but leap-frogged Colorado (79th) in this year's rankings.

            Other Big 12 schools ranked were:  Iowa State (t-85th), Kansas (t-85th), Missouri (t-91st), Nebraska (t-91st), Oklahoma (108th) and Kansas State (124th). Oklahoma State and Texas Tech were considered "third tier" schools and were, therefore, not ranked numerically.

 

AFCA SALUTES BAYLOR FOR GRADUATION RATE

            Baylor was one of 34 NCAA Division I-A schools to have its football program honored with the 2007 Academic Achievement Award by the American Football Coaches Association.

            In the most-recent AFCA survey, four institutions registered graduation rates of 90 percent or more for their 2001-02 freshman football class, including Northwestern and Notre Dame, which earned top honors from the Touchdown Club of Memphis with their 95 percent marks.

            Baylor joined Big 12 schools Nebraska, Texas and Texas Tech among the 32 institutions who received honorable mention recognition with a graduation rate of 70 to 90 percent. Baylor also was recognized in the AFCA's 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2006 surveys.

 

2007 SCHEDULE FEATURES EIGHT 2006 BOWL TEAMS

            After playing seven of 12 games a year ago against teams that went on to earn bowl invitations, Baylor will face eight 2006 bowl teams this season, including six of its eight Big 12 opponents. But, that's nothing new for coach Guy Morriss' program, as 28 times in his first 46 games (including 25 of 32 Big 12 contests) along the Baylor sideline he's faced an opponent who ended the season in a bowl game. 

            The Bears' 2007 opponents combined for an 85-67 (.559) record a year ago and eight earned bowl bids -- TCU (Poinsettia champion), Rice (New Orleans), Texas (Alamo champion), Kansas State (Texas), Texas A&M (Holiday), Texas Tech (Insight champion), Oklahoma (Fiesta) and Oklahoma State (Independence champion). Baylor's eight 2007 Big 12 foes went 60-43 (.583) a year ago and recorded all three of the league's bowl wins.

            Six of Baylor's eight losses in 2006 came at the hands of eventual bowl-bound teams while it knocked off Texas Bowl participant Kansas State, 17-3, and bowl-eligible Kansas, 36-35.

            Over Morriss' four seasons in Waco, his teams have tackled the nation's 55th- (2003), sixth- (2004), 28th- (2005) and 49th- (2006) most-difficult schedules according to the NCAA.

 

FOOTBALL OPERATIONS HEADED TO CAMPUS IN 2008

            Ground was broken May 10, 2007, on the Alwin O. and Dorothy Highers Athletics Complex and the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center, a $34 million complex that will integrate the Baylor athletics department and football program into the campus environment for the first time since the late 1950s.

            The lead gift for the privately funded project and the largest single gift in school history is from the estate of Alwin O. Highers Jr. of Alexandria, La. A native Texan and a 1939 Baylor business graduate, Mr. Highers was well known as the owner of Alexandria's Dr Pepper Bottling Co. He also was a dedicated supporter of Baylor athletics and in particular its football program, until his death in 2003. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, who still resides in Alexandria.

            The focal point of the Highers Athletics Complex will be the 96,300-square-foot Simpson Athletics and Academic Center, which will be built on University Parks Drive adjacent to Baylor's Mayborn Museum Complex and the university's other athletic facilities that are part of the Julie and Jim Turner Riverfront Athletic Complex on the Brazos River.

            A Baylor University graduate and generous Baylor supporter, Bob R. Simpson is a co-founder, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of XTO Energy Inc. of Fort Worth. His leadership at XTO has been recognized by numerous publications, including Barron's ("30 most respected CEO's in the world," March 27, 2006), Oil & Gas Explorer ("Executive of the Year," March 2006), Institutional Investor ("Best CEOs," January 2006), BusinessWeek ("The BusinessWeek Top 50 Performers," April 2006) and Forbes ("2,000 Leading Companies in the World," April 17, 2006).

            Simpson earned a bachelor's degree in accounting and finance, with magna cum laude honors, in 1970 and his MBA in 1971.

            The first floor of the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center will include functions that are currently housed at Floyd Casey Stadium, such as a main athletics training room, equipment room, football team locker room, coaches' locker room and weight room. Floor two will hold administrative offices, the football office and meeting rooms, as well as an academic center which will benefit all Baylor student-athletes.

            The Highers Athletics Complex will include three football practice fields, two with a natural surface and the other with artificial turf. Construction will take approximately 18 months and is expected to be completed by July 2008.

 

FAMILY AFFAIR

            The Bears' 2007 roster includes the sons of six former Baylor football standouts, three of whom were All-Americans during their Baylor careers. True freshmen Matt Singletary, V.J. McElroy and Chris Francis join three other sons of Baylor legacies already in the program--sophomore offensive guard Sam Sledge, redshirt freshman receiver Ben Randle and sophomore running back Tony Anderson, who must sit out the season as a transfer from I-AA Southeast Missouri State.

            Singletary's father, Mike, was a three-time All-American and two-time Davey O'Brien Award winner who is enshrined in both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame after standout playing careers at Baylor and with the NFL's Chicago Bears. McElroy's father, Vann, was a two-time All-America defensive back at Baylor who went on to play in two Pro Bowls with the NFL's Los Angeles Raiders. The younger Francis' father, James, earned 1989 All-America and Southwest Conference Player of the Year honors and was a first-round NFL Draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals.

            David Sledge was an All-Southwest Conference performer for the Bears in 1978. Alfred Anderson, the third-leading rusher in school history, and Ervin Randle, an eight-year NFL veteran with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs, were Baylor teammates in the early 1980s.

 

BAYLOR CONTINUES TO IMPROVE UNDER MORRISS

            Introduced as Baylor's 24th head football coach on Dec. 11, 2002, Guy Morriss inherited a proud program that had fallen on hard times and produced just 13 victories in the six seasons (1997-2002) prior to his arrival. He and his staff have already posted more wins both overall (18) and in Big 12 play (seven) in five years than the Bears registered in the seven previous years (17 overall/four Big 12) before Morriss' Central Texas arrival.

            Morriss has directed Baylor to seven of its 11 all-time Big 12 Conference victories and its only two conference road wins, while improving the Bears' league win total in each of the last three seasons. He owns a 18-32 record in four-plus seasons at Baylor and is 27-46 in six-plus seasons as a head coach overall.

 

COACHING STAFF FEATURES FIVE NEW FACES

            In the off-season, Baylor's coaching staff underwent a makeover as five new faces were added, and the dean of the Bears' staff, Larry Hoefer, was promoted to defensive coordinator.

            After spending the past three seasons as running backs coach at the University of Arizona, Kasey Dunn is Baylor's new assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach. Former University of Houston All-America wide receiver Jason Phillips will coach the Bears' inside receivers and serve as recruiting coordinator after helping his alma mater to three bowl games in four seasons. Morriss also hired former University of Houston safeties coach Clay Jennings, a graduate of Waco's La Vega High School, as Baylor's cornerbacks coach.

            Cornell Jackson, who coached running backs at the University of New Mexico the past two years and has 20 years of collegiate coaching experience, is the Bears' new running backs coach. Eric Schnupp joined the staff as tight ends and assistant offensive line coach after working three seasons in a similar position at West Texas A&M. He will assist Morriss with the offensive line.  

            Hoefer, the only remaining member of Morriss' original staff, was named the Bears' defensive coordinator in late February when Bill Bradley was hired as secondary coach of the NFL's San Diego Chargers.

            Lee Hays returns for his second season as Baylor's offensive coordinator and will also tutor the Baylor signal callers in 2007, while Gary Kinne (linebackers) and Don Wnek (defensive line) are back for their second and third seasons, respectively, in the Baylor program.

            The 2007 Baylor coaching staff boasts more than 160 years of experience at the professional, collegiate and high school levels. Seven members of Baylor's staff played NCAA Division I football and five played professional football.

 

OVER THE AIR

            Bear football games can be heard live on the Baylor/ISP Sports Radio Network. The network includes nine affiliates across Texas, including flagship stations ESPN KRZI-AM (1660) in Waco. All Baylor games are broadcast by the "Voice of the Bears" John Morris, a veteran broadcaster with 21 years' experience in the Baylor broadcast booth and in his 13th season as the signature voice of Baylor Athletics. Former Baylor football standouts J.J. Joe (color analyst) and Ricky Thompson (sideline reporter) complete the broadcast team.

 

BAYLOR/ISP SPORTS FOOTBALL RADIO NETWORK

Abilene                                     KYYW-AM        1470

Amarillo                                    KIXZ-AM           940

Big Spring                                KBST-AM          1490

Houston                                    KKHT-FM          100.7

Dallas/Fort Worth                      WBAP-AM        820

Jacksonville                              KXAL-FM          100.3

Lubbock                                   KJAK-FM          92.7

Lufkin                                       KYBI-FM           101.9

Waco (Flagship)                        KRZI-AM           1660 ESPN

 

BAYLORBEARS.COM

            Baylor's official athletic web site can be found at www.BaylorBears.com. The comprehensive site, which includes releases, photos, biographical sketches and audio broadcasts, is part of the College Sports TV network. CSTV currently hosts sites for more than 100 universities, including four Big 12 schools and the conference office.

 

BAYLOR GAMES ON THE INTERNET

            The radio call from all of Baylor's games can be heard free of charge live on the Internet at www.BaylorBears.com.

 

INSIDE BAYLOR SPORTS TV SHOW

            Inside Baylor Sports, a half-hour look at the world of Baylor athletics, will air weekly throughout Central Texas and other outlets. The program, co-hosted by John Morris and Lori Scott Fogleman, airs on KCEN-TV Channel 6 (Sunday, 11 p.m. CT), Fox Sports Southwest (Wednesday, 1 p.m. CT), College Sports Television (Friday, 4 p.m. CT) and the College Channel (Waco cable 18).

 

UP NEXT ...

            Baylor returns to action Saturday, Oct. 6, hosting Colorado at Floyd Casey Stadium. Kickoff between the Bears and the Buffaloes is scheduled for 6 p.m. CDT. It is Baylor's first Big 12 Conference home game of the 2007 season.

            Colorado holds an 8-6 advantage in the all-time series, including a 3-2 edge in games as Big 12 foes. However, Baylor has won each of the last two meetings -- a 34-31 overtime decision at Boulder, Colo., last season and a 42-30 decision at Floyd Casey Stadium in 2003.

 


 

 

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