By Dave Campbell
For the decade of the Fifties, I have to go back to that first season in the new stadium, to the Baylor-Texas A&M showdown.
The Aggies were ranked No. 13 in the country at kickoff time. Powered by a terrific ground force of fullback Bob Smith and halfbacks Glenn Lippman and Billy Tidwell, A&M had lost only once, and only then to mighty Oklahoma, 34-28, in Norman. Oklahoma was destined to win the national championship (AP poll) that year.
In Waco the week before the game, conversations were at fever pitch. Actually, they were higher than fever pitch. You see, a couple of days before kickoff time, several members of the Aggie Cadet Corps kidnapped (bear-napped?) Baylor's two popular bear cub mascots. In so doing, as Jinx Tucker wrote after the game, "The Aggie Cadets made of the Baylor football team a super unit for the day. They aroused the Bruins to such an extent that they really played better than they know how to play."
When it was all over, underdog Baylor had won a big upset, 27-20, after falling behind early, 13-0. On the first play of the game, Bob Smith ran 66 yards for a touchdown. A couple of minutes later Lippman caught a 24-yard pass for another touchdown.
A&M was staging a runaway. But then it was time for Larry Isbell. It was in that game that Isbell, Baylor's junior quarterback, really came of age, proving to the Southwest Conference just what a special talent he was -- a first-team All-America selection in both football and baseball, a great leader, passer and punter, and a ball-handler so gifted that game officials were known to blow a play dead while Isbell was still carrying out his fake.
Larry threw four touchdown passes that afternoon, ran well and punted six times for a 46-yard average. The Bears knocked both Smith and Lippman out of the game by halftime and had the ball on the A&M 1-yard line when the game ended. Oh yes, by then the Bear cubs had been returned to their Baylor home. It seems the cubs had literally ripped to pieces the backseat upholstery of the car of the bear-nappers and they wanted no more of them.
To me, that was Baylor's game of the Fifties at Baylor Stadium. Other possible choices: Baylor's "revenge" victory over Houston, 53-13, in the 1954 season opener; and the Bears' 46-13 victory over Rice in 1956, a victory that paved the way for a treasured Sugar Bowl invitation.