Sept. 24, 2011
WACO, Texas (AP) - Robert Griffin III threw five touchdown passes and ran for another score to lead No. 17 Baylor to a 56-31 victory over Rice on Saturday night.
Griffin was 29 of 33 for 338 yards, upping his season totals to 13 touchdowns and 12 incompletions, and he didn't play in the fourth quarter. He came into the game leading the nation in passing efficiency and third in total yards.
Further boosting his Heisman Trophy credentials, Griffin ran for 51 yards and even punted once, on a quick kick, for 39 yards. His TD throws were caught by five different receivers.
"Robert Griffin is one of the greatest I have ever seen as a player and a coach," Rice coach David Bailiff said. "What he is and what he worked himself into this season compared to last season is just frightening with where he can take his game."
Griffin led Baylor to touchdowns on five straight drives in the first half, putting the Bears (3-0) ahead 35-7. Some breakdowns on defense and special teams helped Rice (1-2) grow its point total, but the Owls - who were coming off a win against Purdue, their first against a team from a BCS conference since 2001 - simply had no answer for Griffin.
In the second half, he threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to make it 49-17. He didn't throw at all on the next series, with Baylor going 72 yards in seven plays, all on the ground; Griffin's only carry on that series was the final 4 yards.
Griffin's night had one flaw: a fumble at the end of a 26-yard run. He was inside the 10 and surrounded by five players. The former hurdler appeared to be ready to go airborne when one of the defenders coming from behind popped the ball out. Griffin took a jarring hit and was slow to get up, but halftime quickly followed and he was back to full strength by the start of the third quarter.
"You can go out in a blaze of glory and try to jump, or you can live like a sissy and get on the ground, and I chose the blaze of glory route - and it was a blaze," Griffin said.
Baylor coach Art Brilesprobably cringed at the time, more because of the hard hit than the fumble. But he liked the spirit it represented.
"When you're out there, you have to take advantage of every play, and he does," Briles said. "If you like green and gold, that should make you smile."
Rice's Taylor McHargue was 23 of 38 for 260 yards and three touchdowns. He had one pass picked off - a tipped ball that Ahmad Dixon took 55 yards for a touchdown when Rice was a score away from perhaps making things interesting. McHargue also ran 14 times for 44 yards.
Vance McDonald caught six passes for 59 yards and two touchdowns. Andre Gautreaux had the other TD catch, on the first catch of his college career.
The Bears are assured of remaining in the Top 25 for the fourth straight week, continuing their longest run since 1991. Baylor will be expected to beat Kansas State and Iowa State before its big test: back-to-back games at Texas A&M and Oklahoma State.
Fans are taking to Griffin and this rising program. A crowd of 40,088 in Waco made it three straight of at least 40,000, something that's happened only in 1995 and 1975.
Kendall Wright caught 11 passes for 108 yards and his 20th career touchdown, setting the Baylor career record. He's already the career record-holder in catches and yards.
Tevin Reese had seven catches for 106 yards, including the 64-yarder. He and Terrence Ganaway each had their first touchdown catches of their career. Reese is a sophomore, Ganaway a senior who is also the club's leading rusher. He had 78 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries against Rice while Glasco Martin ran six times for 76 yards.