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Thursday, December 29, 2011
Alamo Bowl: Three keys for Washington

By Ted Miller

Three keys for Washington in the Valero Alamo Bowl against Baylor.

1. Chris Polk, Chris Polk, Chris Polk: Baylor ranks 102nd in the nation in run defense, giving up nearly 200 yards per game. Huskies running back Polk is 16th in the nation in rushing with 112 yards per game. Polk is a tough, physical runner who could wear down a defense. His goal should be to hit the Bears' season average all by himself. And while Polk is carrying the ball, Baylor QB Robert Griffin III is not.

2. Bend, don't break: Baylor averages 571 yards per game. That number isn't a concern. The Bears average 43.5 points per game. That one is. The Huskies can give up yards, but they need to try to squeeze the Bears when it comes to points. Here's a surprising factoid: Baylor isn't great in the red zone, ranking 91st in the nation. The Bears have 36 TDs on 58 red zone trips. By way of comparison, the Huskies have 36 TDs on 45 trips. If those TDs-to-red zone trips ratios hold true, Washington wins.

3. Hit Griffin: Washington wasn't particularly good rushing the passer this season, ranking eighth in the Pac-12 with 24 sacks. But it had  some extra time to get creative with blitzes in advance of facing Griffin, and it needs to come after him. Though Griffin is a dangerous runner, he was sacked 25 times. The Huskies' defense will need to take some chances because Griffin sitting back, comfortable in the pocket, is just not what you want. The nation's most efficient passer, he threw 36 TD passes with just six interceptions and completed 72.4 percent of his throws. Yeah, that's scary good. The Huskies have to pressure him and then deliver hard blows if he opts to run. Anything to get Griffin out of sorts.