A year ago at this time, Matt Rhule was coming off a dismal 1-11 campaign in his first season in Waco. It was rough for his fellow coaches, the players and a fan base that had grown accustomed to winning plenty in recent seasons.
Well, what a difference a year makes.
Baylor capped off a remarkable turnaround from those dark days to grab victory No. 7 on the season in the Texas Bowl in shootout fashion 45-38 over Vanderbilt.
The Bears, as you could predictably rely on for a Big 12 squad, used their offense to rack up big plays galore and numerous long scoring drives. QB Charlie Brewer was dealing both inside and outside the pocket, throwing for 384 yards with two scores and a pick. He also accounted for 109 yards rushing and scored one of four Baylor touchdowns on the ground.
As good as Brewer was though, his top target was hard to beat coming out of the backfield as Trestan Ebner ran for 90 yards and a score while catching three passes for 109 yards with another trip to the end zone off a fantastic 75-yard scamper over the middle.
Maybe even more wild was the fact that Ebner wasn’t even the tailback with best performance in the game.
That would be belong to Vandy’s Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who you really should know all about after the way he broke off three 60+ yard runs to finish the year in style. The junior wound up with 243 yards on just 13 carries and probably should have seen the rock even more the way he was running.
It wasn’t totally a one-man show for the Commodores though. QB Kyle Shurmur became the school’s all-time leading passer with 286 yards (1 TD) on the night and Khari Blasingame was an all-purpose threat with 96 total yards and three touchdowns.
In the end though, bad tackling — something both sides were quite guilty of — in key situations in the second half that proved to be Vandy’s undoing in a pretty fun game to close out an otherwise boring Thursday during bowl season. While the Dores will head back home to Nashville wondering why they couldn’t get that one key stop or put up one more big play, the Bears will head up the highway to Waco and celebrate all the way after capping a wild turnaround in 2018 with a win.