December 30, 2011
The Heisman Trophy winner said after the fireworks show in San Antonio that he had not made up his mind whether he'd forgo his senior season for the NFL Draft or return to Baylor in 2012, but did say he'd make his decision "soon." In the meantime, Griffin made lasting memories by helping the Bears to a 67-56 win over Washington — and more than a few enduring numbers, too. In this game, defense wasn't even optional: It was nonexistent. If these two teams had been defending the Alamo, it would have fallen in record time.
The offenses set bowl records with 1,397 total yards (the previous high was 1,211, set in the 2005 Insight Bowl) and 17 total touchdowns, breaking the record (16) set in the 2001 GMAC Bowl. That game — a 64-61 win by Marshall over East Carolina, led by Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich — still holds the mark for total points in a bowl game (125), though it took the Thundering Herd and Pirates two overtimes in that game to get there. Baylor and Washington exceeded their mark for points in regulation by a full three touchdowns.
Still, despite the rash of gaudy statistics, Griffin had a relatively quiet night with just 295 yards and one touchdown passing, though he also went 24 yards for a score on one of the more impressive runs of his career. Statistically, the night actually belonged to Washington quarterback Keith Price, who passed for 438 yards and four touchdowns and added three more scores as a runner. Price singlehandedly kept the Huskies in the game despite Baylor's relentless ground game, which pounded out 482 yards rushing — 200 of them by senior Terrance Ganaway, who also had five touchdowns.
Ganaway's final score, a 43-yard breakaway with 2:28 left, sealed the victory for the Bears, who fought back from an 18-point second half deficit with a 43-14 run.
Just stop for a second and reread those stats, because they're ridiculous and you might not see anything like them for another decade. Through three quarters, Baylor and Washington had scored 102 points. No. 2 Alabama, which is playing for a national title in about a week, has given up 106 points all season (thanks, @BryanDFischer). Baylor's 482 rushing yards were more than half of Miami-Ohio's 886 total rushing yards for the season (thanks, @Mengus22). It seemed like every play on offense resulted in an unbelievable run or spectacular catch.
For Griffin, the lack of statistics didn't diminish the triumph: The win was Baylor's first in a bowl since 1992 and gave the Bears their first 10-win season since 1980. If Griffin was looking for a perfect way to end his career, he couldn't have done much better. He can leave to the NFL — and become a top-10 draft pick — knowing that he left Baylor in much better shape than he found it. If he does come back, it's hard to believe the Bears could go much further. Ganaway will be gone, as will Griffin's favorite target, All-American receiver Kendall Wright. And the defense... well, the less said about the defense, the better.
But while Griffin might not have dazzled Thursday night, the rest of the team did, making the Bears' future seem a little brighter.
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