The smiles on the faces of Art Briles, Robert Griffin III and the rest of the Baylor crew told the story: The Bears came from behind once again to claim their 10th win of the year, defeating Washington, 67-56, in the Valero Alamo Bowl Thursday night.
The win capped off a remarkable year for Baylor football, one that saw the Bears match the program record with 10 wins and, of course, claim the first Heisman in school history. (Not to mention that new stadium on the way.) We’ll look back on all that in more depth in a few days; for now, let’s enjoy this win.
This game was fun to watch not only for Bear fans, but for most any fan of college football — a true shootout. The Bears and Huskies set FBS bowl records for most combined points and yards. BU matched the FBS-bowl record for points and set an FBS-bowl record with 777 yards of total offense (also a Baylor single-game record). The Bears’ 18-point comeback was the third-largest second-half comeback in program history and gave the program its first bowl win since 1992.
And while RG3 certainly played well, our post from earlier this week proved prescient in noting that Baylor is “more than just a one-man show.” With the Washington defense denying the Bears their usual deep balls, the Baylor running game stepped up, rushing for a school-record-tying 482 yards and a school-record-setting eight rushing touchdowns.
Senior Terrance Ganaway led the way in his final game as a Bear, rushing for 200 yards and five touchdowns (tied for the most in program history), including three pivotal plays: an 89-yard TD run (the longest ever by a Bear) in the third quarter that got Baylor back in the game when it looked like UW might be ready to pull away; a four-yard TD run mid 4th-quarter that gave the Bears the lead to stay; and a 43-yard TD run that iced the game with 2:28 remaining.
Another thing that stood out last night: Baylor Nation once again showed up in full force, accounting for at least three-fourths of a sellout crowd of more than 65,000. Fans in green and gold swarmed the San Antonio Riverwalk, leading more than one fan to say it felt like they were on campus for Baylor Homecoming.
The Alamodome played like a home game for Baylor, and that was likely a difference-maker in such a close game. With showings like this one, last year’s Texas Bowl and the men’s basketball Elite Eight run a couple of years ago, Baylor fans are developing a reputation for showing up big in the big-time games — something that will play an important role in future bowl selections.
This was the final game at Baylor for seniors like Ganaway and receiver Kendall Wright (91 yards receiving and one TD, plus 28 yards rushing), and could be the last for RG3 if he decides to go pro (experts have him pegged as a top-10 pick). If so, what a way to go out; you could see Griffin just taking it all in post-game amidst the pyrotechnics, balloons and confetti, knowing that his team had just completed perhaps the best season in program history.
Sic ’em, Baylor football, and sic ’em, Baylor Nation!