Baylor wants ‘Big 12 takeover’ with Texas next

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WACO, TEXAS (AP) - They have heard the derisive chants of “Worse than Bay-lor!”

They know school officials fought hard to keep Baylor in the Big 12 last summer when it looked like they would get left behind in the realignment shuffle.

Now Bears football players can point to the top of the Big 12 South standings, where they sit alone in first place. Quarterback Robert Griffin III and a core group of teammates told themselves three years ago their mission was to start “a Big 12 takeover.”

They might just pull it off.

“We’ve been down for a long time here at Baylor,” senior safety Byron Landor said. “A lot of teams don’t expect us to come out and play to win.”

Ranked for the first time since 1993, No. 25 Baylor (6-2, 3-1 Big 12) rolls into Austin on Saturday night to face struggling _ and unranked _ Texas (4-3, 2-2), which has lost two in a row at home but is nonetheless favored by 7 1/2 points.

How remarkable is Baylor’s rise? Landor said that during his anatomy class after the Bears beat Kansas State last week, the professor asked the football players in the room to stand up for applause.

Beat the Longhorns and the Bears aren’t just talking about competing in the Big 12, unheard of since the day the league was founded.

They’ll be in position to maybe even win it.

To understand just how far Baylor has come, consider this: the Bears have suffered the heartburn of 14 consecutive losing seasons, from 1996-2009, full of blowouts and last-second losses.

In 1999, the first year of the Kevin Steele era, the Bears tried to punch in a last-second touchdown to get a more emphatic win over UNLV and set the tone for an emerging program. But a fumble into the end zone led to a 100-yard touchdown return and a Baylor loss.

During one stretch, the Bears lost 30 consecutive Big 12 games. That’s when the chant of “Worse than Bay-lor!” became one of the most damning insults Big 12 fans could hurl at each other.

But after last week’s 47-42 win over Kansas State, Baylor is bowl eligible for the first time since 1994.

“You can dodge it if you want to, or act like it doesn’t exist,” Baylor coach Art Briles said, “but we buried some ghosts (Saturday) night.”

The entire campus is excited about the postseason and it’s not yet Halloween.

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