Brice Cherry: Not the party Baylor expected

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Posted: Thursday, January 2, 2014 12:01 am

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Well, that couldn’t have been the Fiesta Baylor wanted.

The Bears’ party-planning committee certainly had a different ending in mind. They had visions of confetti and Gatorade baths and trophy hoisting. But someone forgot to tell the Central Florida Knights, who crashed the party and caused more havoc than the guest who double-dips the Tostitos salsa.

Those Baylor fans who pooh-poohed UCF’s Fiesta Bowl inclusion – and, yes, they were out there – probably have a whole new take on the Knights now.

Guess what? These guys play pretty good football, too.

Just because it requires a Google search to remember UCF’s conference – it’s the American Athletic Conference, for the record – obviously didn’t mean that Baylor was going to run roughshod over the Knights like they were one of its nonconference foes.

This wasn’t a fluke. If you were there, you know it. UCF passed the eye test. Against a Baylor team that’s renowned for its team speed, the Knights zipped around like carhops on roller skates. All night long, the UCF receivers racked up major yardage after the catch.

Moreover, UCF was tough in the trenches on both sides, effectively neutralizing Baylor’s own usually beefy prowess.

And that Blake Bortles kid? Yeah, he’s an NFL prospect for a reason.

The Bears were left trying to play catch-up all night, and in a rare twist, they weren’t able to keep pace.

It was a humbling end to an otherwise fantastic season for Baylor, which likely will also have to endure the vultures from Texas swooping in to try to pick off Art Briles for their coaching vacancy. Make no mistake – just because Briles has said he intends to remain in Waco doesn’t mean anything to the Longhorns. They’ll come calling nonetheless.

When the story of the 2013 Baylor season is written, it’ll encompass no small measure of heart-pumping, Bear fan-thrilling moments. These guys still set a school record with 11 wins. They still closed out the Case in style, winning every game they played in their longtime home stadium. They won the first Big 12 championship in school history and added a BCS appearance to boot.

But this wasn’t the way they wanted the last page of the book to go.

Some Baylor fans will probably blame the refs. Others may point to the possible distraction of all the Texas rumors. Still others may decry the Bears showing up too late, and not fashionably late.

If that’s the mindset, though, it’s not fair to UCF. Give the Knights credit. “These guys just found a way to win,” UCF coach George O’Leary said.

Just call them the party poopers

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