Friday, December 30, 2011
Instant analysis: Baylor 67, Washington 56
By David Ubben
That was what we thought it would be, at least in the sense of an offensive explosion.
As Robert Griffin III said after the game, this had to be one of the most-watched games ever. Tons of entertainment, and Baylor gets a 67-56 win in a crazy night in San Antonio at the Valero Alamo Bowl.
How the game was won: Just when you thought defensive stops were an endangered species, Baylor dug one out of the depths of the Alamodome. With Washington facing a 4th-and-8 at the Baylor 39 with just more than three minutes to play, the Bears rushed Huskies quarterback Keith Price and forced an incompletion to get the ball back and ice the game.
Turning point: Chris Polk's fumble at the Baylor 11-yard line with 8:40 to play in the third quarter. Washington led 42-31 and forced a three-and-out, returning the punt 46 yards to Baylor's 17-yard line. On the next play, though, Polk coughed it up and Baylor recovered. The play after that, Baylor running back Terrance Ganaway ran 89 yards for a touchdown to get the Bears back in it. RG3 capped the score with a two-point conversion on a ... wait for it ... jump pass. What could have been an 18-point Washington lead became a three-point lead in a flash, and Baylor turned a possible blowout into a win.
Stat of the game: This was easily the highest scoring Alamo Bowl ever, and broke the FBS record for total offense in a bowl game, with almost 1,400 yards. A whole lot of fun to watch, too. Baylor topped 400 yards rushing and Washington topped 400 yards passing. It surpassed the 2005 Insight Bowl between Arizona State and Rutgers. It was two points short of the bowl record for points. Marshall beat East Carolina 64-61 in the 2001 GMAC Bowl.
Player of the game: Keith Price, QB, Washington. Baylor's safety play was poor, but you still have to make the throws. Price made all of them, and then some. And then ran some more. He accounted for seven touchdowns, and didn't have a turnover. He threw for 438 yards and ran for 39 more. Did we just see the beginning stages of a 2012 Heisman campaign? Don't rule it out. A huge game for the impressive first-year starter. Not a bad replacement for Jake Locker, eh?
Unsung hero of the game: Baylor's offensive line. The big uglies up front cleared the way for a huge night on the ground that powered Baylor's offense. Bears quarterback and Heisman winner Robert Griffin III was good, but the running game paced the offense on this night in a lot of different ways. The Bears had three 100-yard rushers and RG3 wasn't one of them. Ganaway had 200 yards and five touchdowns. Jarred Salubi and Tevin Reese both had 101 yards and Salubi scored twice. Not a bad night on the ground.
Jeers to: Both defenses. These were two very good offenses. Let's be clear about that. But the defenses tonight? Good grief. The effort wasn't there. Receivers ran wide open all night. Holes for running backs were enormous. The tackling for both sides was atrocious and undisciplined. This wasn't necessarily more of one than the other, but there was a ton of great offense in this game and an equal amount of awful defense. One bright side: Washington had one penalty all night for 15 yards. Hard to get penalized when nobody hits anyone.
What it means: No defense is a whole lot of fun to watch. This was the most entertaining bowl game of the season so far, even if the defense was at times laughable.
Baylor also earned the program's first bowl win since 1992. Will RG3 return in 2012 for another run? He says he's undecided, but he'll have until Jan. 15 to decide whether or not he'll return for his senior season. Whether he stays or goes, he's done amazing things. He gave Baylor the school's first Heisman winner, and won 10 games in a loaded Big 12, giving the Bears their second 10-win season in school history, and first since 1980.