Remember back in the day, before kids took on 12 hours a day of video games as their favorite pastime, and we would go outside and play some sandlot football? In my hometown, we had my group of about 10 or 12 friends, and our favorite thing to do was call out the kids from one of the surrounding neighborhoods to meet us at Westminster School and we would play pickup football on that school's fields. (Yes, we were totally trespassing.)
Well, in 2020, The Year of the COVID, that's essentially what scheduling has become in college football. Made up on the fly, impromptu matchups. Hell, even Notre Dame, independent literally FOREVER in the school's history, is actually playing a season as a member of the ACC just so they have games to play.
However, nothing has a bigger "meet us at the yard, let's play ball feel" than what took place over the weekend, with the Baylor Bears and University of Houston Cougars agreeing to meet in Waco next Saturday to lace 'em up and play some college football. Hey, whatever, I'm all for it! Anything that gives us MORE football, I am down with. Here are some of the details and key things to think about, as pertains to this matchup:
The COVID made them do it
So what created the urgency to get this game in place for each of these schools? Well, the fact of the matter is that each had an opponent whose football program was ravaged by positive tests. The Bears were supposed to play Louisiana Tech this past Saturday, but an outbreak on Tech's team led to postponement of the game, and rescheduling it was proving to be tough. Meanwhile, Houston was set to play an AAC conference game against Memphis next weekend, but the Tigers also had a COVID outbreak within their team. So with both Baylor and Houston wanting to max out on games, this marriage of convenience between former Southwest Conference foes came together.
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Dave Aranda's opener is a high degree of difficulty
This will be Baylor's first game since the loss to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl this past January. This will be Dave Aranda's first game as a college football head coach, and he will be facing off against one of college football's better offensive minds in Dana Holgorsen while trying to replace nine starters from last year's Baylor defense. As career opening games go in today's college football landscape, where normally you could schedule an FCS or Group of Five patsy, this is a fairly high degree of difficulty for Aranda and Baylor, especially considering there will not be any normal sort of home field advantage.
Baylor will be one of the last bastions protecting the Big XII's dignity
Speaking of scheduling DOWN and giving yourself a layup for a season opener, I'm guessing that's what Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas Tech, and Kansas had in mind when they decided to make Louisiana, Arkansas State, Houston Baptist, and Coastal Carolina their respective opponents this past weekend. Instead, Iowa State, Kansas State, and Kansas all suffered embarrassing home losses, and Texas Tech might have had the most embarrassing performance of all four schools in a two point victory over Houston Baptist, whose actual program has been around less time than Bill O'Brien has been here in Houston. Now, here comes Baylor with a pretty tough non-Power Five opponent, but granted, one that is far more accomplished than any of the Cinderella's doing damage on the Big XII's rep this past weekend.
Is this a template to give us more old school SWC matchups?
In the end, maybe the coolest part of all of this is that longtime fans of college football in the state of Texas will get to relive some Southwest Conference glory days. The mere visual of these two jerseys going against each other should invoke some nostalgia, and the really good news is that, if the game does come off this Saturday (and with COVID, that's always an uneasy "IF"), then the two schools have agreed to schedule a home and home that will be completed sometime between now and 2030. Hey, it's not exactly the Longhorns and the Aggies setting aside their differences, but it's a start!