2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 4 - Rice at Baylor
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Sept. 24 at Baylor 56 … Rice 31
CFN Analysis: No one's playing better right now than Robert Griffin. The offense is second in the nation and the passing game is the second most efficient, and it's all because of Griffin, who's playing at a special level after completing 29-of-33 passes for 338 yards and five scores, and running for 51 yards and a touchdown, and Kendall Wright continues to be phenomenal with 11 grabs for 108 yards and a score. The defense allowed Rice to make this interesting in the second quarter, but Griffin and the offense weren't going to give the game away. The Bears have to show they can do it on the road with Kansas State and the start of the Big 12 season up next.
Rice ran into a buzzsaw. No one's stopping Baylor right now, but at least the Owls cranked out a little bit of offense to make it interesting. Taylor McHargue threw for 260 yards and three touchdown passes as he kept the pressure on, and five different players combined for 156 rushing yards, but Baylor's attack is too good, too efficient, and too strong right now. With a hot Southern Miss team up next to start Conference USA play, the offensive line has to continue to play well McHargue has to build off this performance. It'll still take something special, like a +3 in the turnover margin, to come up with the win.
(AP) WACO, Texas -- Robert Griffin III turned to his left and threw one of the easiest passes possible, a screen to Terence Ganaway at the line of scrimmage.
Ganaway hardly even reacted and the ball fell to the ground. It was a rare incompletion for
Griffin, and hardly his fault.
So what did he do on the next snap? He threw to Ganaway again, and the senior running back turned it into the first touchdown catch of his career -- one of five TD passes by Griffin, each to a different receiver, in leading No. 17 Baylor to a 56-31 victory over Rice on Saturday night.
Incompletions are more noteworthy than touchdowns for Griffin. Look at the numbers through three games: 13 touchdowns, 12 incompletions.
"That's an unreal stat," Griffin said. "The guys on the sideline, they're trying to calculate it. They know I haven't been throwing many incompletions. They said, 'Now you're one up on it.' ... It's just crazy. They say it's like video games."
The dazzling junior known as RG3 is pretty unreal, too.
He came into the game leading the nation in passing efficiency and third in total yards, and went 29 of 33 for 338 yards, with another 51 yards and a touchdown rushing. He didn't even play the fourth quarter, leading Baylor to 56 points in just three periods.
The Bears scored 50 points against TCU's vaunted defense in the opener, and 48 points in a game called after three quarters because of bad weather. It's the first time in school history they've cracked 40 in three straight games.
Griffin became the school's career leader in completions, and added another dimension for his Heisman Trophy credentials -- a 39-yard punt on a quick kick, the only time Baylor punted all game.
"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's night had one flaw: a fumble at the end of a 26-yard run. He was inside the 10 and surrounded by five Rice players. The smart move would've been to slide, but the former hurdler was ready to go airborne when a defender 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 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 Briles probably 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."
The Bears (3-0) are assured of remaining in the Top 25 for the fourth straight week, continuing their longest run since 1991. They will be expected to beat Kansas State and Iowa State before the big test: back-to-back games at Texas A&M and Oklahoma State.
Baylor is off to its best start since 2005, and fans are paying attention. A crowd of 40,088 made it three straight of at least 40,000, something that's happened only in 1995 and 1975.
"We're having a lot of fun," Griffin said.
Rice (1-2) was coming off a win against Purdue, its first against a team from a BCS conference since 2001, plus a bye week. Yet the Owls could never keep up with their former Southwest Conference rival.
Griffin led Baylor to touchdowns on five straight drives and a 35-7 lead. Some breakdowns on defense and special teams helped Rice start to make things interesting, but then a tipped pass was intercepted by Bears defensive back Ahmad Dixon and returned 55 yards for a touchdown.
The next time Baylor had the ball, Griffin threw a 64-yard touchdown pass. He didn't throw at all on the next series, with the Bears going 72 yards in seven plays, all on the ground; Griffin's only carry was the final 4 yards.
"We needed to have flawless execution," Bailiff said. "There were too many mistakes to come out of here with a win."
Rice's Taylor McHargue was 23 of 38 for 260 yards and three touchdowns. He 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.
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 that was his first career touchdown catch.
Ganaway had 78 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Glasco Martin ran six times for 76 yards.
Rice (1-1) at Baylor (2-0) Sept. 24, 7:00, Fox Sports Southwest
Here's The Deal … Although it has played just a pair of games, Baylor has already evolved into one of the most interesting storylines of September. The perennial also-ran out of the Big 12 is ranked and making some national noise, largely thanks to the play of Heisman-contending QB Robert Griffin. After a 15-day lay-off since shocking TCU, 50-48, in an opening weekend thriller, the Bears made quick work of Stephen F. Austin, 48-0, in a game shortened to 40 minutes by inclement weather.
Rice, too, was off last week, still basking in the glow of its impressive upset of Purdue on Sept. 10. The Owls are clearly improved from a year ago, when they went 4-8, but by how much? If they can shock No. 19 Baylor, their old Southwest Conference rival, they'll carry an enormous head of steam into next week's start of the Conference USA schedule.
Why Rice Might Win: Yeah, the offense still remains the calling card on the Houston campus, but the Owls hung around with Texas and stunned Purdue on the strength of its defense. Who'd have guessed that development? Rice certainly won't shut down Griffin entirely, but does look capable of forcing more punts and field goal attempts than usual. The catalyst has been veteran DE Scott Solomon, who has returned with a vengeance from last year's season-long injury. Against the Boilermakers, he was virtually unblockable, collecting eight tackles, 3.5 stops for loss and two sacks. When Solomon occupies multiple blockers, he frees up linebackers Justin Allen and Cameron Nwosu to make plays from sideline to sideline.
Why Baylor Might Win: Griffin has turned the corner in a huge way in his junior year, combining his elite athleticism with improved passing. The blend of skills will be too much for most defenses. Through two games, he leads the country in passing efficiency, throwing eight touchdown passes, while maximizing the explosive ability of WR Kendall Wright and RB Terrance Ganaway. The Bears are going to turn this game into a track meet, which will drag Rice a little out of its comfort zone. The Owls have their own multi-dimensional quarterback, Taylor McHargue, but not nearly as much support as Griffin does. Against two AQ programs so far, they rank no higher than 105th nationally in total or scoring offense.
What To Watch Out For: Which Baylor D shows up, the one that was shredded by TCU or the one that blanked Stephen F. Austin? Somewhere in between probably makes sense for game No. 3. With the Griffin-led offense in great hands, the progress of the defense will dictate how far the Bears can ascend in 2011. The team has just a pair of sacks in 2011, and leading tacklers Chance Casey and Mike Hicks are cornerbacks, meaning improvement will be needed in a number of different areas.
What Will Happen: Rice is improved this fall, but so is Baylor. The Bears will have too much firepower on offense for an Owls squad still searching for rhythm on that side of the ball. It'll be another big evening for Griffin who'll get ample protection from LT Cyril Richardson and an underrated offensive line. He'll account for 400 total yards and three touchdowns, liberally spreading the ball around to Wright, Ganaway and the balance of the Bears playmakers.
CFN Prediction: Baylor 44 … Rice 17
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