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Bears grasp fading bowl dreams

Nov. 7, 2006

20061107_football
Associated Press
Texas Tech's Joel Filani pulls down a 76-yard touchdown pass over Baylor cornerback James Todd late in the third quarter of Saturday's game in Lubbock. Texas Tech went on to win the game 55-21.
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By DAVID KAYE
Reporter

Through disappointing losses and come-from-behind wins, the Bears have spent the entire season focusing on the big picture -- getting to a bowl game for the first time since 1994. Now they don't have that luxury.

With their record falling to 4-6 after a 55-21 blowout loss to Texas Tech University on Saturday, the Bears must now win both of their remaining games to meet the six-win minimum required for bowl eligibility.

"I don't think we talk about a bowl this week," Morriss said. "I think we talk about trying to win the game, and everything else will take care of itself."

Few teams have their destiny spelled out for them as well as the Bears do. They have to beat both Oklahoma State and Oklahoma if they plan on ending an 11-year post-season drought.

Despite having their backs against the wall, senior receiver Trent Shelton said he likes the Bears' chances.

"There's a lot of pressure, but I think our team responds to pressure and adversity pretty well," Shelton said. "I've faced it since I've been here. We've just got to come out, play hard and win the game."

Baylor will be the underdog in both games, but as the Bears showed in the 2005 season, they can compete with the teams remaining on their schedule.

After a heartbreaking double overtime loss to the Sooners in Norman, Okla., Baylor finished its 2005 season with a 44-34 win over the Cowboys at Floyd Casey Stadium.

Shelton said if the Bears hope to continue playing in December, they'll have to forget about Saturday's loss.

"Before the game we seemed dead. Not just one player -- the whole team just seemed dead to me," Shelton said. "We didn't come out fired up like we usually are. We've just got to put this game behind us because we can't bring it back. We need to come out on Tuesday, practice as hard as we can and get into this bowl game."

One thing the Bears can take from the loss is the experience gained by freshman quarterback Blake Syzmanski.

After throwing just five passes all season, Syzmanski took every snap for the Baylor offense Saturday.

"I felt good about the way Blake played. I think he was the one bright spot offensively," Morriss said. "His demeanor was good. He's always upbeat and positive. He believes in himself."

Syzmanski completed 16 of 30 passes for 197 yards and one touchdown with one interception. He also became the first Baylor quarterback to rush for two touchdowns in a game since 1992. Senior safety Maurice Linguist said he was pleased with Syzmanski's performance.

"It's a tough situation. He hasn't really played before," Linguist said. "He's thrown in the middle (of the) season trying to take our team to get a win in a hostile environment, and I think he did a good job making the plays he could."

Syzmanski said he wasn't as pleased. On third-and-one in the second quarter, with the Bears trailing 21-14, the snap sailed over his head for a 24-yard loss.

"We've got to handle adversity; bad things happen and you've got to be able to control those," Syzmanski said. "You've just got to keep chugging along. I need to get better. I need to make better reads and keep making plays for my team."

Morriss said the Bears have to find a way to bounce back and get a win against Oklahoma State on Saturday.

"I think one of the things we have got to do is appeal to the seniors that this is their last two chances," Morriss said.

"We just have to get our heads up, come in, look at some film, try to get it out of our system and get ready to go to Oklahoma State."