Was there a team more fun to watch in 2011 than Baylor? Scratch that. Was there a player more fun to watch in 2011 than Robert Griffin III?
You can debate that later if you so desire, but we here at Crystal Ball Run had a blast watching Griffin and Baylor throughout the 2011 season, and today we take a look at his most important game of the season as we continue to look back on some of the best games form the 2011 season.
Before we continue with a look back at the Baylor’s big win, and in case you have missed any of the previous segments, here are the games we have already reflected on:
- Baylor vs. TCU
- Michigan vs. Notre Dame
- Oklahoma State vs. Stanford
- Michigan State vs. Georgia
- Oregon vs. Wisconsin
No. 22 Baylor vs. No. 5 Oklahoma
November 19, 2011
The Quick Slant: Robert Griffin III puts together some of the final pieces of his Heisman Trophy campaign reel in a late fourth quarter victory against the fifth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners.
Game in Brief: Baylor 45, Oklahoma 38
Oklahoma made the trip to Waco for a Saturday night game against a Baylor team that was still looking for a bit of a big win. After losing games against Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Kansas State early in Big 12 conference play with rebound wins against Missouri and Kansas, the Baylor Bears were still the recipient of fair criticism for not beating a good team (although TCU was starting to show that they were a pretty decent team after knocking off Boise State the previous week). So what better way for a Heisman contender to eave his mark than one of the most memorable moments of his collegiate career, at home, against fifth-ranked Oklahoma?
The Sooners had managed to stay in the BCS championship picture despite losing to Texas Tech a few weeks earlier, and hoped to stay there with a top-five ranking. Things started off slowly for both teams, heading in to the second quarter tied at 3-3. Baylor was first to get n the end zone, with a 15-yard run by Terrance Ganaway, and Oklahoma tied it up with just about two and a half minutes left until halftime. But a 69-yard touchdown pass to Tevin Reese went for 69 yards and a touchdown, giving Baylor a lead at the half., 17-10.
Oklahoma took control early in the third quarter with two touchdowns in the first four minutes of the second half. The Sooners scored four plays in to the half, keyed by a 54-yard pass from Landry Jones to James Hanna, and followed by a two-play possession after Baylor went three-and-out. With momentum fully in the favor of Oklahoma, the Sooners looked to really cement control midway through the third quarter by pinning Baylor back in a battle of field position. Then came the kind of fluke play that always seems to go in favor of the great players.
Deep in his own territory, taking over following Oklahoma’s touchdown, Robert Griffin III dropped back to throw over the middle for a first down, and not much else. The ball was tipped and bounced high in to the air while continuing to move forward. Receiver Kendall Wright got his hands on it and had nobody in front of him the rest of the way. The 87-yard touchdown pass left Griffin in amazement, as all he could do was drop to one knee and thank someone above for bailing him out on what could have been an incomplete pass, setting up a third and long from inside the Baylor 20-yard line. The game was tied but RG3 had one more trick up his sleeve in a wild second half.
Baylor built a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter and nearly blew it. Down 38-24, Oklahoma stormed back and tied the Bears at 38-38 with 51 seconds left to play in regulation. Then Griffin went to work.
A 22-yard run to the Baylor 46-yard line, followed by an eight-yard scramble and a complete pass to Wright put Baylor at the 34-yard line, with time left for one play. Griffin took advantage of the opportunity. With a defender in his face and set to knock him down, Griffin got rid of the football to the end zone along the right sideline, fortunate to get it in the hands of Terrance Williams. Oklahoma had run out of time, while Baylor finally got that signature win.
And Robert Griffin III had his Heisman moment.
What We Said Then (Full Story)
For those of you looking for some kind of BCS clarity, we got it Saturday, in what can only be described as the craziest weekend in recent college football history. Clemson eliminated themselves from the National Championship hunt with a loss to NC State. Oregon did the same losing to USC at home. Oklahoma State saw their title dreams go up in smoke in Ames, IA Friday.
But none of those games compared to the sheer drama, excitement and anxiety that was found in Waco, TX Saturday night. That’s where Baylor blew a 14-point fourth quarter lead and seemed content to play for overtime, before a Bob Stoops blunder and last minute rally ended up costing Oklahoma a win, and potentially a shot at the tile. The No. 5 team fell to Baylor on the road by a final of 45-38.
Following the stop in play, Griffin dropped back in the pocket didn’t see anything downfield, and used his track speed picked up a 22-yard gainer to the Baylor 46 for a first down. The much-needed first down had been accrued, but the Bears didn’t stop there. On the next play Griffin scrambled again, picking up eight yards and crossing midfield, before Griffin hit Kendall Wright for a quick 12-yard gainer deep into Oklahoma territory.
Then, the dagger.
With a fresh set of downs, Griffin dropped back in the pocket, rolled out, set his feet and chucked the ball deep into the right corner of the end zone. There waiting was Terrence Williams, who made a falling catch in between two Sooners defenders, for what was the final score of the game. A fumbled kickoff later and kneel down later, Baylor officially had their 45-38 win.
And Oklahoma officially had their National title hopes eliminated.
Hindsight is 20/20
Oklahoma had entered the 2011 season as a team receiving plenty of BCS championship caliber hype, but as the season went on the Sooners were brought down by injuries and ran out of steam multiple times. Against Baylor and Texas Tech the Sooners were unable to finish what they started in regaining control of the games, and Oklahoma finished the regular season by being flattened by Oklahoma State. We know now that Oklahoma State was pretty good of course, but we remain curious to know what kind of stuff the Sooners come back with next season, with Landry Jones returning under center.
While Oklahoma’s BCS dreams were shattered that night in Waco, the story of the night was easily the emergence of Robert Griffin III as a Heisman Trophy favorite. Of course, RG3 would go on to be named the Heisman Trophy winner a few weeks later, and few would question the decision. He had earned it, and charmed us all along the way. Griffin finished the game with 479 passing yards and four touchdowns. In addition, he added 72 rushing yards. By contrast, Oklahoma’s Landy Jones (a preseason Hesiman favorite) finished with 447 passing yards, but threw one interception and failed to register a touchdown pass.
Both schools went on to win their bowl games, with Oklahoma putting away Iowa in the Insight Bowl and Baylor outlasting Washington in a defense-less Alamo Bowl.
We’ll see where these two programs go from here. Can Oklahoma get back on top of the Big 12? Will Baylor find a way to continue to build the program and not fall backwards after losing Griffin III to the NFL Draft? Needless to say, we hope, these two schools will be featured in some of the Big 12 storylines for 2012.
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