Nov. 19, 2011
WACO, Texas (AP) - Robert Griffin III made his way into Baylor's locker room, but paused when he opened the door.
Nobody was there.
"I was like, where'd everybody go?"
They were still on the field celebrating. There was a postgame party at Floyd Casey Stadium, and everybody wearing green and gold was invited. The Bears had swiped the Sooners' picnic basket.
Before tonight, Baylor had never had a chance to celebrate a win over Oklahoma.
With a 34-yard toss from Griffin III to Terrance Williams in the back corner of the end zone, that all changed.
"There at the end, God works in mysterious ways," Griffin said with a wide smile. "When I looked down the field, I saw him one-on-one. All this is happening in milliseconds, so I saw him one-on-one and I was like, `Well, I'll give him a shot.' I threw it up, and he made a great catch."
Baylor 45, Oklahoma 38.
That play, coach Art Briles admitted, was "not the way we drew it up."
"The dude has had the ability to take over a game by himself," said linebacker Elliott Coffey, "and you saw it."
We all saw it. We saw Griffin prove once again he's the best deep-ball passer in college football, throwing four touchdown passes, even if one of them unbelievably deflected off Tevin Reese's hands and helmet before floating into Kendall Wright's hands for a game-changing 87-yard touchdown.
Griffin could only shake his head at that one, but he finished with a school-record 476 yards on 21-of-34 passing, breaking his own single-season school record for passing yards. He was also the Bears' leading rusher with 72 yards.
"Another day at the office for Robert," Briles said. "He's been doing that for three or four years. When the ball's in his hand, he's going to make good things happen, because he's very intelligent, very passionate and very gifted."
Said safety Ahmad Dixon: "You can't really defend him. You have to just take what he gives you."
No run was bigger than a 22-yard scramble on second down on the game's final drive, when Baylor had just 51 seconds left and no timeouts. Oklahoma had three, and when the Bears looked content to try and run it and settle for overtime, the Sooners used one. Baylor knew it needed a first down. The man they call RG3 provided those precious 22 yards.
"Then the whole thing flips," Briles said.
The aggressive move backfired, and the Sooners fate was in the hands of the most dangerous player in the Big 12. Baylor should have known.
"Robert Griffin's the best in the game," running back Terrance Ganaway said. "When the ball's in his hands, expect big things."
The late toss to Williams was the biggest, and Griffin barely saw it. He took a big hit, but saw Williams haul it in. He wasn't sure, but the offensive linemen that mobbed him confirmed it.
"Robert, you just won us the game," they told him.
He got up, took a moment to kneel near midfield, then pointed to the sky and jogged to the sideline. He just wrote maybe the most memorable chapter in Baylor history. They'll never forget this night in Waco.
"When you work for something extremely hard for a lot of years, and you finally get it, it's a great feeling," Griffin said. "We worked for this. We haven't been waiting for it. We've been preparing for it. And it finally came to pass."
Baylor's already been through the whole bowl eligibility brouhaha. That's so 2010. Saturday was the third time Floyd Casey Stadium's field has been stormed in the past two seasons. Baylor's already equaled its win total from 2010 with two games remaining, and the Bears might be favored in both. Then there's a bowl game.
That's not lost on Griffin.
"It's great, but you've still got to show up every day and go to work. Go to practice. Watch film. That's something I've learned to appreciate, because the year I was hurt, I couldn't practice," said Griffin, who missed the final nine games of the 2009 season with a torn ACL. "I couldn't walk. I couldn't go to the bathroom by myself. My mom had to help me. My fiance had to help me. So, when things like that happen to you, it makes you appreciate everything."
America learned to re-appreciate Griffin once again, too. He captured the nation's attention with a game-winning drive on the first weekend of the season against TCU, but the Bears suffered a pair of losses and dropped out of the Top 25. A slew of losses from top-ranked teams, though, combined with RG3's heroics?
The Heisman race has gotten a sudden facelift.
"They say we needed a signature win," Griffin said with a laugh. "And we got it."