Baylor just missed securing its first 12-win season in each of the last two seasons, falling in successive bowl games.
Now the No. 17 Bears (9-3) will look at it from the other side, and try to prevent No. 10 North Carolina (11-2) from collecting its first-ever 12-win campaign. The Tar Heels lost their season-opener to South Carolina and then reeled off 11 consecutive victories before losing to No. 1 Clemson in the ACC championship game.
Baylor and North Carolina face off in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 29.
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North Carolina coach Larry Fedora, a Texas native, can get the school’s milestone victory against the program in which he started his collegiate coaching career 25 years ago.
“The first time I met Art (Briles) was in his field house at his high school because I was recruiting his quarterback,” Fedora told reporters. “It was many years ago when I was a position coach at Baylor University.”
The Baylor coach who has transformed the Bears’ program and whose spread offense principles have spread across college football, Briles was first responsible for groundbreaking change in what was ground-and-pound Texas high school football. These days, Texas high schools almost exclusively run spread offenses.
"What he was doing at Stephenville (High School) hadn’t been done,” Fedora said. “They were spreading it out, they were doing things with tempo. I remember him showing me his call sheet – every centimeter of the paper was taken up in handwritten calls.”