It's going to be a long day for both teams as they have to wait for an 8 p.m. kickoff local time. Plenty of buildup to the game, but I do wonder if there as much interest in this game than a year ago for the Holiday Bowl. There just doesn't seem to be as much buzz surrounding the game.
From game preview today ...
In years past for the Huskies, playing in a bowl game in consecutive seasons wasn’t so much an accomplishment as an expectation. The program was a national power under Don James, and the Huskies remained relevant for years following his departure. But the slide to mediocrity that began after the 2001 Rose Bowl hit rock bottom in 2008 with a 0-12 season and the firing of coach Tyrone Willingham. Sarkisian took over and has been trying to revive the program ever since.
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“You only appreciate success when you’ve been at the bottom, and we’ve been at the bottom, and we realize how that feels,” said senior linebacker Cort Dennison.
Baylor has never been a powerhouse. This will be the program’s 18th bowl game. The Bears have had one 10-win season in their history, and before this year they hadn’t won nine games in a season since 1986.
When Briles took over after the 2007 season, Baylor hadn’t had a winning season since 1995. The Bears went 0-8 in Big 12 play the year before Briles arrived.
“I remember the first time we won a conference game, that was a big deal,” Briles said.
It took Sarkisian two seasons to return Washington to a bowl game, while Briles needed three seasons to do the same for Baylor.
Neither rebuilding project was easy. And both coaches see similarities in their respective paths.
“There is a level of respect for what guys have been able to accomplish and what they’ve been able to do, not just this season about what they’ve been able to do since 2008, what we’ve been able to do since 2009,” Sarkisian said.
For Washington’s seniors, their careers have spanned the rebuilding process after the team went 0-12 when they were freshmen. There has been a lot of hard work, setbacks and learning to get to this point. And while, they always believed in the process, there was still doubt.
“Honestly, no, I would have never imagined this,” said senior offensive tackle Senio Kelemete. “It was pretty hard for all of us, the 0-12 season. I’m pretty sure a lot of guys didn’t really want to play football anymore or wanted to transfer. Football wasn’t fun.”I joined Kevin Calabro yesterday to talk about the game today. My interview starts about the 23 minute mark.
Art Thiel of SportsPress NW and had a pair of columns. This one about the bowl being a showcase and this column on the bowl about Baylor using the bowl to springboard its growing athletic program.
The Express has this breakdown of matchup. Both writers pick Baylor to win.
Here's some video of RGIII talking with ESPN