Robert Griffin III has done what many thought couldn't be done. His next challenge is overcoming the Heisman Trophy jinx.
Of the last nine quarterbacks to win the Heisman, only three have won their bowl game. The four Big 12 Conference winners of the stiff-arm trophy have produced just one bowl winner - Texas and Ricky Williams in 1998. In the BCS Era (since 1998), Heisman winners have gone 6-7 in bowl games.
"Obviously, that's going to pop into your head, those guys that didn't play that well," Griffin said. "But those guys aren't (me), and I'm not them, and that's the way I look at it. I know I'm going to be me and help my team win."
If the Bears (9-3) are to win 10 games for the second time in program history, they'll need to get past Washington in Thursday's Alamo Bowl. The presence of this year's Heisman Trophy winner could mean a record crowd in the 65,000-seat Alamodome.
The 15th-ranked Bears have won five in a row and during the winning streak they're averaging 46 points and 587 yards in total offense. Last year, when Baylor ended a 16-year bowl drought, it entered the post-season on a losing streak.
"We were coming off three tough losses and we were excited about being in a bowl game because it was the first time in 16 years," coach Art Briles said. "We're coming off of five victories where it's not 'Who's next? What's going to happen?' We have a real good idea how we're going to perform. So that is very comforting going into this bowl as opposed to a year ago."
Washington is in its third season under coach Steve Sarkisian. Last year, the Huskies were blown out by Nebraska in the regular season but bounced back to defeat the No. 17 Huskers in the Holiday Bowl. This season, the offense got a boost when sophomore Keith Price stepped in to replace Jake Locker at quarterback. Junior running back Chris Polk has gained at least 1,000 yards rushing in his first three seasons.
The Huskies faced two top quarterbacks in Stanford's Andrew Luck and USC's Matt Barkley. Neither had big games throwing against Washington, but their teams' running games were dominant. The Cardinal and the Trojans gained nearly 700 yards rushing against the Huskies.
Baylor vs. Washington
Need to know: 8 p.m. Dec. 29, Alamodome, San Antonio, ESPN.
Team records: Baylor 9-3, Washington 7-5.
The Bears hope to maintain the momentum that carried them to a five-game winning streak (including victories over Oklahoma and Texas) to end the season. Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III leads the nation in passing efficiency and is on pace to break the NCAA single-season passing efficiency record. Running back Terrance Gannaway is 15th nationally in rushing with 112 yards per game while All-American wide receiver Kendall Wright ranks second nationally in receiving yards and is sixth in receptions and touchdown catches. The defense will be without sophomore defensive end Tevin Elliott, who suffered a knee injury in Baylor's regular-season finale against Texas. Baylor's defense has forced 16 turnovers in the last four games.
The Huskies have a solid one-two punch on offense with sophomore quarterback Keith Price and junior running back Chris Polk. There was concern about how Washington would replace quarterback Jake Locker but Price has been outstanding. He has set the UW single-season record with 29 touchdown passes while throwing for over 2,600 yards. Polk, who gashed Nebraska for 177 yards in last year's bowl game, has 11 rushing touchdowns and has gained 1,341 yards on the ground. The defense has struggled; the Huskies rank 116th out of 120 FBS schools against the pass, allowing 283.8 yards per game.
Baylor is the only FBS school averaging 300+yds passing and 200+yds rushing and the only school in the top 20 in both rushing & passing offense - 5th nationally in passing (356.17) and 18th in rushing (215.08). ... Neither team has been a road warrior. Huskies are 1-4 outside of Seattle, outscored by a total of 80 points. The Bears' lone win outside of Waco was by a point in overtime against Kansas. ... Washington ranks No. 94 in total defense while Baylor ranks No. 114. ... Washington lost four of its lasts six and allowed at least 34 points in the four losses.