WACO (AP) – After throwing for 400 yards for a third straight week and guiding Baylor to a school-record 697 yards, Robert Griffin III was most excited about a pair of runs by Terrance Ganaway.
The tough part for Griffin was deciding which was better — Ganaway’s zigzagging 38-yard touchdown that gave the Bears a big lead late in the third quarter, or the 80-yarder that proved to be the winning touchdown in a 42-39 victory over Missouri on Saturday night.
“You don’t see that from a 240-pound back,” Griffin said. “I was amazed. … I think the cutback was better, but the 80-yarder was impressive. … He’s faster than you think he is. You’re not going to run him down in the open field.”
The Bears were coming off consecutive lopsided losses and in a 1-3 funk since climbing to No. 15 in the nation. They fell behind the Tigers 7-0 and 14-7, then roared back to lead 28-14 on Ganaway’s first touchdown. They ended up needing an onside kick recovery and one final first down by Ganaway to seal the victory.
It’s a significant win, too, as Baylor (5-3, 2-3 Big 12) improved to 5-0 at home and is now one win from being bowl eligible for a second straight season. The Bears, who haven’t been to bowls in consecutive seasons since 1991-92, could practically wrap that up by winning at lowly Kansas next weekend.
“For our guys to come fight and play with a lot of confidence says a lot about their faith and belief in themselves and our programs,” coach Art Briles said.
Missouri (4-5, 2-4) was trying to pull off a Texas two-step of sorts, and nearly put itself in the same position as last weekend, when the Tigers wiped out an 11-point, fourth-quarter deficit at Texas A&M.
This time, they could only come close to wiping out a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit. They scored 25 points in the final period, but undermined that surge by allowing a 68-yard touchdown pass and Ganaway’s 80-yard TD run.
“We gave up some big plays in the fourth quarter that, if we’re getting back in it, kind of denied us, and that made it that much more difficult,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said.
Perhaps days from joining the Southeastern Conference, Missouri clearly lacked the stingy defense it’s going to need to compete in that league. Baylor fans pointed that out by chanting “S-E-C! S-E-C!” in the final minute, right after Ganaway sealed the outcome by running 18 yards to the Missouri 8 on a third-and-2.
“We battled at the end, but it’s all about consistency,” Pinkel said. “We make a lot of mistakes — a lot of fundamental, discipline, basic mistakes on both sides of the football. And it makes it very difficult to win when you’re doing it. I’m responsible that we play better. They’re a really good football team, and I’m disappointed and I expected to play better.”
Griffin — who came in as the second-most accurate quarterback in the nation, and third in total offense — was 27 of 41 for 406 yards and three touchdowns. His best pass was a heave that hit Tevin Reese in stride for the 68-yard TD. Reese bobbled it and stepped out of an ankle tackle around the 10-yard line. Griffin also ran 18 times for 64 yards.
Ganaway had 186 yards on just 12 carries.
Missouri’s Henry Josey, who came in leading the Big 12 in rushing, ran for 132 yards and two touchdowns. It was his fourth straight game with at least 129 yards. Fellow sophomore James Franklin was 33 of 46 for 325 yards and three touchdowns, and he ran 16 times for 57 yards.
The game got off to a bit of an odd start, with each team’s first possession ending with a 9-yard punt. Only Missouri’s was into the wind. Kicking was a problem all game for the Bears, as they had a point-after blocked and missed field goals of 27 and 54 yards.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)