SAN ANTONIO - This Superman's kryptonite is not bronze.
The Heisman Trophy jinx is powerful and authentic. Since 1998 (the BCS Era), Heisman winners are now 7-7 in bowl games. Of the last nine quarterbacks to win the Heisman, six lost in their bowl game.
Baylor's Robert Griffin III, he of the Superman socks and the 2011 Heisman winner, did not become victim of the jinx. While his numbers were sub-par (24-of-33, 295 yards, one touchdown), his presence helped the Bears' offense roll triple sevens - 777 yards in total offense. That, along with one key defensive stop, was enough for Baylor to overcome and outlast Washington 67-56 in the Alamo Bowl.
"That was crazy," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "It really was, it was crazy."
"Crazy" might be an understatement. The 123 points and the 1,397 yards in total offense set NCAA bowl records. Baylor's total offense was a school record and an NCAA bowl record.
"We were in here (the Alamodome) for a walk through this week and the scoreboard said 72-72," Griffin said. "We thought, 'Naw, that's not gonna happen. Well, we got pretty close. I'm just glad we won the game."
Trash the lack of defense, criticize the fact that neither team could stop the other. But the bottom line is that Baylor won 10 games for the second time in school history because Briles' team has shown admirable toughness in closing the season with a six-game winning streak. As RG3 said during his Heisman speech, "... the hotter the heat, the harder the steel; no pressure, no diamonds ... we compete, we win, we are Baylor."
With Washington's defense keying to stop Griffin, the Bears turned to the running game that produced 482 yards rushing and three players with 100 or more yards.
"In the second half I was more worried about carrying out my fake than throwing a pass," Griffin said. "You've got to take what they're giving you. They were playing a lot of soft coverage so we started running the ball in the second half."
Senior Terrance Ganaway, who has been a force during the winning streak, carried 21 times for 200 yards and scored five touchdowns. He was named the game's outstanding offensive player. Jarred Salubi had five carries for 101 yards and two touchcdowns.
The Bears (10-3) raced to a 21-7 first quarter lead. The third TD was an RG3 SportsCenter highlight. He appeared to be sacked - Washington defensive end Josh Shirley whiffed twice - but bounced free and scored from 24 yards.
Washington dampened the enthusiasm of the pro-Baylor crowd with a 28-point second quarter. Sophomore quarterback Keith Price (23-of-37, 438 yards, four touchdowns) had his pick of open receivers as Baylor's secondary had a bad habit of busting coverage. The Bears trailed 35-24 at halftime.
It quickly became 42-24 as Price found Jermaine Kearse (five catches, 198 yards) for an 80-yard TD on the second play after intermission.
The 28 points Baylor allowed in the second quarter was the most it had allowed all season. The Bears allowed 25 in the fourth quarter to TCU and Missouri - and won both games.
Baylor responded with a 29-point third quarter. Ganaway's 89-yard TD run was the spark. He added two 1-yard scores as the Bears led 53-49 going into the fourth quarter.
Asked about closing out his career, Ganaway said, "I would like to say we, the seniors, closed out our careers. It's all about Baylor. The offensive line, the receivers, Robert, they all took a lot of pressure off of me. I was able to put my stitch on the end of the season."
Briles grinned. "I appreciate you being humble but I'd say that wasn't a stitch, it was a big piece of yarn."
Ganaway's fourth TD put Baylor ahead 60-56 with 8:15 remaining. The key play of the drive was a 48-yard completion, RG3 to Kendall Wright.
With over eight minutes remaining, there appeared time for, oh, maybe two or three more touchdowns. Baylor's defense, though, made sure the Huskies' side of the scoreboard froze.
Washington started its final drive at its own 22. The Huskies reached the Baylor 41 before the Bears got the stop they needed.
"I told the guys at halftime, we get a couple of stops in the second half, we can win it," Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett said.
Two incompletions and a two-yard gain left Washington facing a fourth-and-eight with 3:25 remaining.
"We dropped eight, rushed three," Benett said.
Price's sideline pass for Kasen Williams sailed long. Three plays later, Ganaway's final touchdown sealed the deal.
"They played a defense they hadn't played the whole game," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said of the fourth down failure. "Give Baylor credit. They went to a coverage they hadn't used all night. The double covered Kasen, they did a nice job."
Baylor's Elliott Coffey was named the game's outstanding defensive player (yes, they did give out an award like that in a game where the offenses dominated and there were 18 plays of 20 or more yards).
"The numbers are what they are but we got the win," he said. "The offense had done so much, it comes down to the team concept. We had to back up our boys. We had to make sure the later it got, in clutch time like that fourth down play, we needed to make a play."
"To come back the way we did, speaks to the toughness of this team," Griffin said. "This isn't our first rodeo."
As Briles and the Bears stood on the award platform at midfield at the Alamodome, the clock struck midnight. Balloons were released, confetti flew and fireworks exploded - impressive but a bit of an anticlimax after four hours of offensive football.
And as Baylor fans chanted "one more year" RG3 left the field carrying the Alamo Bowl trophy. Trophies become him.
Baylor Bowl History (Record: 9-9)
|Dec. 29, 2011||Alamo Bowl-Baylor 67, Washington 56|
|Dec. 29, 2010||Texas Bowl-Illinois 38, Baylor 14|
|Dec. 31, 1994||Alamo Bowl-Washington St. 10, Baylor 3|
|Dec. 31, 1992||John Hancock Bowl-Baylor 20, Arizona 15|
|Dec. 31, 1991||Copper Bowl-Indiana 24, Baylor 0|
|Dec. 31, 1986||Bluebonnet Bowl-Baylor 21, Colorado 9|
|Dec. 27, 1985||Liberty Bowl-Baylor 21, LSU. 7|
|Dec. 31, 1983||Bluebonnet Bowl-Oklahoma St. 24, Baylor 14|
|Jan. 1, 1981||Cotton Bowl-Alabama 30, Baylor 2|
|Dec. 31, 1979||Peach Bowl-Baylor 24, Clemson 18|
|Jan. 1, 1975||Cotton Bowl-Penn St. 41, Baylor 20|
|Dec. 21, 1963||Bluebonnet Bowl-Baylor 14, LSU 7|
|Dec. 9, 1961||Gotham Bowl-Baylor 24, Utah St. 9|
|Dec. 31, 1960||Gator Bowl-Florida 13, Baylor 12|
|Jan. 1, 1957||Sugar Bowl-Baylor 13, Tennessee 7|
|Dec. 31, 1954||Gator Bowl-Auburn 33, Baylor 13|
|Jan. 1, 1952||Orange Bowl-Georgia Tech 17, Baylor 14|
|Jan. 1, 1949||Dixie Bowl-Baylor 20, Wake Forest 7|