Restoring hope: Tigers tamed, boosting Bears to 5-3

No. 10 quarterback Robert Griffin III hurdles over Missouri No. 1 defensive back Kip Edwards for a first down on Saturday evening, Nov. 5, 2011, at Floyd Casey Stadium. The Bears ended up with a 42-39 victory over the Tigers.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

By Tyler Alley
Sports Editor

After Baylor’s 42-39 win over Missouri on Saturday, the Bears only need one more win to become bowl eligible for the second straight season, something they have not done since the 1991 and 1992 season.

“It was one of our initial goals,” junior quarterback Robert Griffin III said. “You don’t want to be a one-and-done bowl team. So getting back bowl-eligible is big. It’s not all we want, we don’t just want six wins, but it’s part of the process. We know we got to go do it on the road, and we’re excited.”

In front of the homecoming crowd of 40,194, Baylor (5-3) reminded its fans how well its offense can light up the scoreboard and that its defense can slow down a good opponent. Missouri came into the game having beaten Texas A&M 38-31 in overtime at Kyle Field, a place where Baylor lost 55-28 three games back.

Baylor’s offense set a single-game record with 697 yards, 470 of which came from Griffin. Griffin spread the ball effectively, as Baylor almost had three receivers break the 100-yard mark.

“It just shows that if you try to shut one guy down, there’s other guys that can do it,” Griffin said. “We’re proud of our receiving corps. We know that we got talent there. Whether it’s Kendall [Wright], Terrance [Williams], Lanear [Sampson], or Tevin Reese, all those guys, including the tight ends, can make plays. For us to be able to stretch the record books and rewrite them is big because we have a powerful offense and our defense played big for us in the last game.”

The Bears ran the same number of pass plays and run plays, 41 each, and had similar success with 406 yards passing and 291 yards rushing.

“That’s the ideal situation for any team,” he said. “You want to be able to throw it around and run it. But none of that’s possible without the offensive line. They did a great job of pass protecting at the beginning of the game, and then in the middle of the game when we really needed it, they hunkered down and moved the line of scrimmage, giving those backs some big holes.”

The defense stepped up for Baylor as well. The numbers may not show it, as Missouri was still able to gain 578 yards and 39 points, but defensive coordinator Phil Bennett’s unit made key stops when the offense was not scoring, including a fumble forced and recovered in the third quarter.

“We knew going in we’d have to stop Franklin,” head coach Art Briles said. “[Missouri tailback Henry] Josey’s going to get his runs. We felt like if we could stop Franklin, we could slow them down, because he’s definitely their catalyst. He’s the guy who’s been making plays for them when they had to have plays to help them win games. I thought Coach Bennett’s staff did a great job nullifying him running the football. They did a good job throwing the ball late. Honestly, that doesn’t matter. We won the game; that’s all that matters.”

The Bears’ offense had its share of big-time performance ,but those of senior running back Terrance Ganaway and sophomore receiver Reese stood out.

Near the end of the third quarter, Ganaway broke a 38-yard touchdown run, breaking two tackles and making a big cut to the right to find some open field and ultimately the end zone.

Then in the fourth, when it looked as if Missouri might be making a comeback, Ganaway burst through the line for an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play of the drive. He finished with 186 yards and two scores.

Reese set a new career high for himself, catching seven catches for 163 yards. His big play was a 68-yard catch in which he bobbled the ball two or three times before finally hauling it in for the score.