NCF Nation: 2011-Alamo-Bowl-preview

Alamo Bowl: Baylor vs. Washington

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
9:00
AM ET
Baylor will play the role of favorite and take on Washington in the Valero Alamo Bowl in nearby San Antonio on Thursday. Kickoff is set for 9 p.m. ET in the Alamodome. Here's what to expect.

WHO TO WATCH: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor. Obviously. He's the game's most electrifying player and the Heisman winner, which you don't see very often outside the BCS. He's been must-see TV for most of the season, engineering huge upsets of TCU on the season-opening weekend, leading the program's first win over Oklahoma and knocking off Texas to win the Heisman on the season's final weekend. He's the nation's leader in passing efficiency, and, if you haven't watched, he's more than able to make plenty of big plays with his feet, too.

WHAT TO WATCH: Baylor's rush defense vs. Chris Polk. Baylor is a nine-point favorite, but if the Bears lose this game, it'll be because they lose this matchup in convincing fashion. It's been a weakness all year for the Bears, who rank 102nd nationally in rush defense. Washington did it to Nebraska last year, and Polk enters this game with 1,341 yards and 11 touchdowns. The best part for Washington about winning this battle is it would keep a dangerous Baylor offense, which Washington is ill-equipped to stop, off the field. This is the best way for the Huskies to do it.

WHY TO WATCH: You like points, don't you? If you're reading this, you probably have a certain fondness for the Big 12, and I'd like to think a fondness for scoring is implied there. There will be lots of that in this one. Washington's Polk and quarterback Keith Price are dangerous, but Baylor's RG3 is flanked by Kendall Wright and Terrance Ganaway, the Big 12's leading receiver and leading rusher. Add to that each team's ranking in scoring defense (Washington ranks 98th, Baylor 109th) and you'll see why there's reason to believe we'll see fireworks.

PREDICTION: No. 12 Baylor 47, Washington 31: RG3 doesn't give many clues as to his future plans, but he'll look the part of an NFL quarterback in this one, sending Wright into the NFL with a big day. We expect plenty of offense in this one, and both teams should deliver. Polk will rack up big yardage on a suspect Baylor defense, but the Bears will pull away late.

Alamo Bowl: Washington vs. Baylor

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
9:00
AM ET
Washington faces a matchup with Baylor and its Heisman Trophy-winning QB, Robert Griffin III, in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Thursday night.

WHO TO WATCH: Baylor QB Griffin and Washington RB Chris Polk. Griffin's numbers are mind-blowing. He made it impossible not to vote for him for Heisman. Polk is the Huskies' star, but his biggest job will be keeping Griffin and the Baylor offense off the field. That means making first downs and moving the chains with tough runs.

WHAT TO WATCH: Both defenses put up bad numbers, but the Bears' defense was horrible and the Huskies' only bad. Baylor's run defense will be the key to this game. The Bears surrender 200 yards rushing per game, and the Huskies are a solid running team with Polk. If the Huskies get into an early groove running the ball, the Bears will have to load up the box to stop Polk. And then QB Keith Price has the weapons to beat the Bears over the top. If the Huskies can grind it out, they will keep Griffin off the field and wear out the Bears' defense. That would bode well for them in the fourth quarter.

WHY TO WATCH: For one, it's likely the last college game for Griffin and Polk. And if you haven't watched Griffin, well, he's something special. If Andrew Luck and LaMichael James had a baby, it might end up like Griffin. As for Washington, if it wins, that would send a message to college football observers that it might give Oregon a robust challenge in the Pac-12 North in 2012.

PREDICTION: Baylor 44, Washington 38: The Washington defense might surprise some folks early, and the Huskies should be able to score. But Griffin will take this game over in the fourth quarter.

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