WACO (AP) - Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin believes his team has to take a calmer approach with another chance against 14th-ranked TCU.
There isn’t talk about getting even, having a grudge or the 45-10 final score from last season.
The old Southwest Conference rivals meet in their season opener Friday night.
The Bears are coming off their first winning season since 1995 while Rose Bowl champion TCU, which has won an FBS-best 25 consecutive regular-season games, starts over after possibly the best season in school history.
Before Baylor went on to a seven-win season and a bowl game last year, there was that crushing loss to the Frogs.
“That game changed the rest of our season,” Griffin said. “We can’t let any opportunity at any stage get too big for us. I remember a lot of people on this team that wanted to go out and destroy TCU. You can’t go into a game looking at it that way. … I think that the feeling this year isn’t as hyped for the game, but it’s more of a ready feeling.”
Last September in Fort Worth, after both teams had won their first two games, the Frogs scored touchdowns on their first five drives for a 35-3 halftime lead.
“That was a big surprise to me the way it was last year,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said of the previous game in the 112-year-old rivalry. “We just happened to get hot. … The game won’t be that way this year.”
The Frogs not only were BCS busters last season, they capped a 13-0 season with a 21-19 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl and finished No. 2.
TCU goes into this season without four-year starting quarterback Andy Dalton, who after winning 42 games for the Frogs is now an NFL rookie starter for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Sophomore Casey Pachall is the new starter after graduating high school early and going through three springs. He did at least get into eight games last season, but threw only nine passes and ran 15 times.
Even though the Bears finally had their first winning record since the Big 12 began play 15 years ago, they were 0-4 against Top 25 teams.
They ended the season with a four-game losing streak, with losses to ranked Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Oklahoma before losing to Illinois in the Texas Bowl.
Coach Art Briles believes that his team is better prepared.
“Quite honestly, I think our mentality will be better possibly than it was a year ago,” he said. “Last year, we were certainly in a stage of wondering where we were as a football team. I think we grew up a little bit as far as a team as the year went on. … This year, I think starting out, that we’re farther along than we were a year ago.”
There is no longer that underlying wonder of whether Baylor can have a winning season.
Plus, Griffin is going into his fourth season, though he is still classified as a junior after a medical hardship because of his early season-ending knee injury two years ago.
The Bears return several top receivers and expect Terrance Ganaway to fill a hole at running back in an offense that last season set school records with 6,179 total yards and 405 points.
Baylor was on par with other offenses in the high-scoring Big 12 last season with 475 yards and 31 points a game. But the Bears also had one of the worst defenses, giving up 435 yards and 31 points a game.
New Bears defensive coordinator Phil Bennett brings an aggressive style and a sense that things can be much better on that side of the ball.
TCU has had the nation’s top defense each of the past three seasons.
The Frogs return starting linebackers Tank Carder, the Rose Bowl defensive MVP, and Tanner Brock in its 4-2-5 scheme, but have two new starters up front and some inexperience in the secondary.
Pachall has three proven running backs behind him and some talented young receivers, along with some new starters on the line.
For Patterson, and he hopes all of his players, the Rose Bowl victory is already long in the past.
The Frogs are starting at the bottom of their pyramid of goals, on which the only items shaded in purple so far this year have to do with offseason and preseason work.
“I may be to a fault, but I worked hard at not letting the Rose Bowl, and all the other things going on here speak of what we’re about,” the coach said. “That’s what successful people do. When you’re fiscal year is done, you go right back to the beginning. … Right back to the bottom of the pyramid.”
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