WACO (AP) – Baylor’s Robert Griffin did more than just knock Oklahoma out of the national championship chase with his latest record-setting performance.
The offensive machine known as “RGIII” likely put himself back in serious contention for the Heisman Trophy.
Don’t expect an argument from Sooners coach Bob Stoops after Griffin threw for 479 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winner with 8 seconds left that came right after Oklahoma had overcome a two-TD deficit to tie the game in the final minute.
“He’s an excellent player,” Stoops said. “I’ve known that for a long time.”
While there was a deflected pass that turned into an 87-yard touchdown against the Sooners (8-2, 5-2 Big 12), Griffin hit plenty of receivers in stride.
Then after Oklahoma called a timeout hoping to get the ball one more time, Griffin scrambled for 22 yards. He ran for 8 more on the next play before two more passes — 12 yards to Kendall Wright, who had a record night of his own, and a 34-yarder to Terrance Williams for a 45-38 victory late Saturday night.
“The dude has the ability to take over a game by himself, and you saw it, and it was amazing,” Baylor linebacker Elliot Coffey said. “I’m just glad to be part of it.”
Oklahoma plummeted seven spots to No. 12 in the new AP Top 25 on Sunday, and certainly will have a significant slip in the BCS standings as well. The Bears (7-3, 4-3) moved up four spots to No. 21 in the AP poll.
The Sooners’ first loss ever against Baylor (in 21 games) couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Instead of taking advantage of losses by Big 12 rival and then-No. 2 Oklahoma State and No. 4 Oregon that would have pushed them up the line for a national title shot, the Sooners will now have to be content trying to win their eighth Big 12 title in 12 seasons and just get into one of the Bowl Championship Series games.
Certainly an opportunity lost, especially after Stanford and Boise State had both suffered their first losses the previous weekend while Oklahoma had an open date.
“Sure, we were aware of that. But there’s absolutely no thought that we weren’t ready for this game,” Stoops said. “We worked hard and were prepared. We just didn’t play well enough to give ourselves a chance to win.”
The Sooners now have to beat Iowa State — which shocked Oklahoma State in double overtime Friday night — to set up the regular season finale against the instate rival Cowboys for the Big 12 title and the league’s automatic BCS berth.
“We’ve just got to keep playing ball, our goal to win the Big 12 championship is still out in front of us,” said Landry Jones, who completed 36 of 51 passes for 447 yards.
Griffin, the fourth-year junior already with 46 school records, broke his own single-game marks for passing yards (on 21 of 34 passes) and his 551 total yards. It was his fifth consecutive game with at least 400 total yards, and came a week after he directed the biggest fourth-quarterback comeback in Baylor history — from 21 points down to win in overtime at Kansas.
“When the ball’s in his hand, he’s going to make good things happen, because he’s very intelligent, very passionate, very gifted,” Baylor coach Art Briles said.
Wright had eight catches to break his own record with 208 yards receiving. He caught ball that deflected off the helmet of intended receiver Tevin Reese that tied the game after Oklahoma had scored two quick touchdowns after halftime to go in front.
Griffin leads the nation with 412 total yards per game, and has accounted for 38 touchdowns (33 passing, five rushing) with only five interceptions.
“We know we’ve got to finish the season. Let that be known. We’re going to be ready, we won’t be riding a high,” Griffin said. “When you work for something extremely hard and for a lot of years and you finally get it, it’s a great feeling.”
Baylor was already bowl eligible for the second year in a row after never going to a postseason in the Big 12 era before last season. The Bears have two more regular season games, next Saturday against Texas Tech at Cowboys Stadium before the finale Dec. 3 against Texas at home, where they are 6-0 and averaging 48 points a game.
The Bears opened their season with 50-48 victory over defending Rose Bowl champion TCU, the nation’s top defense the previous three years. Griffin threw for 359 yards with five TDs and had a key 15-yard catch on the drive that lead to the game-winning field goal in the final minute as Baylor won its first game against a ranked team since 2004.
They had a stretch in October with three losses in four games, but are 3-0 in November — and now with a victory over their highest-ranked opponent since a 20-13 upset at third-ranked Southern California in 1985.
“I don’t want this to be the highlight of our season. I don’t think it should be,” Briles said. “I think we can do better things. We need to just keep getting better, keep playing.’
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)