Griffin III has lifted Baylor, could get another signature win against Horns

Trey Scott

Want to make the Baylor-Texas rivalry one built to last?

Make 20 or so clones of Robert Griffin III and let me know.

Because after the all-world quarterback is gone, we’re back to blowouts.

So let’s enjoy the buildup to Saturday’s regular season finale — which should be a dandy — and celebrate a belated Thanksgiving and that the concussion Griffin suffered in the first half against Texas Tech will not keep him out of action against the Longhorns. This rivalry is better when the nation’s best player is on the field.

Griffin has lifted the Bears to levels never thought possible. Before 2010, Baylor hadn’t reached a bowl game since 1994. With him, Baylor has received more respect and credibility than ever thought possible, spending nine of 14 weeks this season ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. Without him, the Bears would still, um, not be good at football.

This summer at Big 12 Media Days, Griffin, a junior from Copperas Cove, Texas, was asked his level of satisfaction after the Bears put together a season that included the school’s first win over the Longhorns since 1997 and a bid to the Texas Bowl.

“We’re not just content with sitting at the table,” Griffin said. “We want dessert.”

Eat up, RG3. Over the course of the season, the Bears have gobbled up TCU and Oklahoma’s BCS hopes and look to put a fork in the upstart Longhorns who, after beating Texas A&M, seem to have an extra pep in their step.

For the first and maybe last time ever, the most deserving of the Heisman Trophy plays in Waco. Griffin doesn’t get quite the national publicity of Andrew Luck or Trent Richardson — who, along with Brandon Weeden and Matt Barkley, should join him in New York — but it is clear that no player means more to his team than Griffin does. Without him, history has shown the Bears are the laughingstock of the conference. With him, they’re the most exciting and perhaps most dangerous team in the Big 12.

“Griffin is a phenomenal player,” said Texas head coach Mack Brown. “He’s a guy, like three or four other guys in this league, that are up for the Heisman Trophy. He can beat you with his arm or his feet. He’s thrown 34 touchdown passes … and then you’ve got his ability to scramble.”

Griffin showed all that off last season against the Longhorns when he threw for two scores and ran for another one in a 30-22 win in Austin.

This season has been even better. The first five games, Griffin had more touchdowns than interceptions.

Wait, no. That’s wrong. Actually, he had more touchdown passes than he did incompletions.

Ridiculous. And his “Heisman moment” came two weeks ago when he led Baylor 80 yards to a last-second score over Oklahoma, tossing a 34-yard touchdown pass — while on the run — after he had picked up gains of 22 and eight on the ground. He’ll be looking for another one of those signature highlights Saturday.

“Nobody wins the Heisman on Texas,” said UT cornerback Carrington Byndom.

But Griffin is unlike anybody you’ve ever seen — the Big 12’s 2008 Champion in the 400-meter hurdles — he’s faster than Vince Young. With 34 touchdowns, a 72.6 completion percentage and just five interceptions, he’s a much better thrower, too. And when he’s given the chance, Griffin has proven he’s as clutch as they make ’em.

The kicker? Texas could have had him.

“They offered me, but only as an athlete,” Griffin said this summer. “They didn’t think I could play quarterback.”

“So, yeah, I have a bit to prove against them.”

Printed on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 as: Griffin needed to keep Baylor rivalry competitive