I have often wondered what it must be like to be on a campus where a football team is doing something it isn’t supposed to. Utah and Boise State are the schools that come to mind when I think about that. Well, get your glass slippers ready, WTAMU Buffaloes, because you are a Cinderella.
In case you missed it, on Dec. 1, the WT football team traveled to Pueblo, Colo., to play the Colorado State-Pueblo ThunderWolves in the NCAA Division II quarterfinals. The Buffs avenged their season-opening loss to The Pack by beating No. 1 and top-seeded CSU-P with a 34-13 victory. Leading the high-flying WT offense that afternoon was Harlon Hill, Trophy finalist and junior quarterback Dustin Vaughan with 324 yards on 24-38 passing with three downs and one interception. Senior running back Khiry Robinson led the WT rushing attack with 120 yards on 26 carries. Receiver Nathan Slaughter exploded for 170 yards on seven catches for two touchdowns.
The win gives WT a 12-2 record and a berth in the NCAA Division II semifinals. The Buffs will travel to Winston-Salem, N.C., to play the Rams of Winston-Salem State University on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 5:30 p.m. It is the first time in school history that WT football has gone this deep into the NCAA Division II postseason and they are one win away from going to Florence, Ala., to play in the National Championship.
We can talk about stats and history all we want, but the most impressive part about the entire postseason run by the Buffs is that WT is a six seed in the playoffs. There are only four Super Regions in the country and a team must be one of the six best teams in the region. To say that WT snuck into the playoffs after losing to Midwestern State on Nov. 3 is an understatement. West Texas wasn’t supposed to beat Chadron State in the first round; the Buffs weren’t supposed to beat previously undefeated Ashland University in Ohio in the second round and the Buffs weren’t supposed to be in the semifinals. Yet, WT has busted the bracket and the Buffs are continuing to make history. The WT playoff run has created a compelling and riveting story that the Division II world is talking about. The playoff has created drama and upsets in a way that only a playoff bracket can do.
I, for one, will be the first one in line to take the Buffs to the ball to meet Prince Charming if we should get there. But the situation right now is the Rams of Winston-Salem. Regardless of what happens on Saturday, I’m proud to be a Buff.