College Football Overtime (cont.)
When the score scrolled across the ticker Saturday afternoon, I must say, I did a double take: "Baylor 55, Kansas 7." While we've known since Week 1 that the Jayhawks have their issues, it's not every day Baylor puts up 55 on a Big 12 opponent. In fact, it never had.
The Bears (4-1) rolled to a school-record 678 yards behind a career-high 380-yard passing day from quarterback Robert Griffin. He and the Bears first started generating buzz following the 2008 season when the speedy freshman ran for 843 yards and threw for 2,091, but a season-ending knee injury in the third game of last season killed Baylor's hopes of its first bowl trip since 1994 and sent Griffin -- who was once eliciting Terrelle Pryor comparisons -- back off the radar.
But Griffin is back, healthy and now, as a third-year sophomore, much more of a passer than runner. He's attempted at least 28 passes in every game while averaging a more modest 44 yards rushing.
"The hardest thing about [ACL] rehab is not really the rehab, it's coming back and everyone doubting you," Griffin told me Sunday. "I knew as soon as I stepped on the field in fall camp I was ready to be a quarterback again."
Griffin raised eyebrows after Saturday's game when he called the Bears' 45-10 loss to No. 5 TCU on Sept. 18 a "fluke." He emphasized Sunday that the Horned Frogs are a great team, but "that wasn't the Baylor team we are anymore. After three hard years working to make sure that doesn't happen, we want to show people we're not the same old Baylor. We want people to fear coming here."
The Bears probably aren't that far along yet, but it's certainly realistic to think they can pick up the two more conference victories necessary to become bowl eligible. Coach Art Briles has upgraded the program's overall talent level, starting with Griffin, who seems hellbent on wiping out the school's long-entrenched culture of losing.
"We had some great players when we first got here, but we needed some youth and some new energy to come in and push us over the edge," he said. "After three years of Coach Briles' recruiting, we have a lot of talent, a lot of speed and a greater sense of confidence. It's not a matter of getting to six wins and calling it quits. The sky's the limit."
Suffice to say, he's feeling pretty good about 55-7.
Mini-previews for three of this week's big games
Alabama at South Carolina, Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET): Another week, another ranked opponent for 'Bama. If an SEC foe is going to get the Tide, this may be the week they do it, coming off their much-hyped Florida game. It may still be a stretch, but hey, they're only going to get better come November.
Michigan State at Michigan, Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET): And now, we find out what happens when Denard Robinson faces a team with a decent defense. If he goes for 490 against the Spartans, go ahead and engrave the Heisman. More realistically, Michigan State will control the ball and try to keep him off the field.
Florida State at Miami, Saturday (8 p.m. ET): The 'Noles have quietly gone about their business since their debacle in Norman and bring a 4-1 record to Miami. Christian Ponder gets a chance to put himself back on the map. But Jacory Harris will be licking chops watching tape of that Oklahoma-FSU game.
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