By Stephen Hawkins
Associated Press Sports Writer
ARLINGTON — Robert Griffin III boosted his Heisman Trophy push with a record-setting performance for the nation to see in Baylor’s first win ever over Oklahoma.
RG3 and the No. 21 Bears now must avoid a Texas Tech-like Sooner hangover. The two teams that delivered the 1-2 knockout punch to Oklahoma’s national title hopes play each other Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium.
Since their big upset in Norman last month, the Red Raiders (5-6, 2-6 Big 12) have lost four in a row. Now, they must win their regular season finale to be bowl eligible for the 19th consecutive season, though that still might not guarantee them another game.
“We’re not going to give them an opportunity to destroy our season,” said Griffin, who had 551 total yards against Oklahoma in a 45-38 thriller last weekend. “We know what we have in front of us.”
Baylor (7-3, 4-3) is going for five Big 12 wins for the first time. And the Bears haven’t won eight games overall since 1991, when Grant Teaff was still their coach.
Last season the Bears didn’t win again after getting their seventh win in October; this time they’re winning games down the stretch. Baylor is 3-0 in November and already set for a second consecutive bowl appearance after none in the Big 12 era before last season.
“We just didn’t finish the season. It motivates us for this season to go out and finish strong and realize that we have no pressure on us,” Griffin said. “We can just go out and have fun and do what we know how to do and continue to ride this wave of winning.”
As senior running Terrance Ganaway put it, the team is more mature this season and knows there is still more to accomplish.
“The biggest game of the year is right now,” he said.
Maybe more so for the Red Raiders, who have lost six of seven since a 4-0 start.
After winning 41-38 in Norman to end Oklahoma’s 39-game home winning streak, Texas Tech lost three in row by an average margin of 42 points before a 31-27 loss last week at Missouri, which scored 14 points in the fourth quarter.
“It’s tough when you go on the road and play a team that’s supposedly much better than you are, and you win most of the battles and don’t have that win, especially the way this month’s going,” Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said.
Tuberville spoke to his Red Raiders this week talked about the bowl situation. A win would make them the Big 12’s ninth six-win team, though there are only seven guaranteed bowl spots for the league.
“They didn’t want to hear talking about a bowl,” Tuberville said. “They want to go out and just win this game, and I thought that was pretty good of them to say, ‘Hey, Coach, let’s win this game. Let’s not worry about anything else.'”
Texas Tech has won 15 games in a row against the Bears. The last Baylor victory in the series came in 1995, the final Southwest Conference season.
The Bears had lost all 20 of their previous games against then-No. 5 Oklahoma before Griffin’s fourth touchdown pass, a 34-yarder to Terrance Williams with 8 seconds left after the Sooners had tied the game in the final minute.
Even though it was the highest-ranked team Baylor defeated since winning at third-ranked Southern California in 1985, coach Art Briles was careful about how he classified the victory.
“If you have a signature win, then what do you have in front of you? I certainly don’t feel like we’re through,” Briles said. “We don’t feel like we’ve reached the pinnacle. There’s a lot left out there. … Our job is to go win games. That’s our job, so we don’t feel like we’re doing anything out of the ordinary.”
Big games have become a pretty ordinary occurrence for Griffin, who has had at least 400 total yards in five consecutive games.
The dual-threat junior quarterback leads the nation with 412 total yards per game, and is second in pass efficiency throwing for 3,572 yards with 33 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He has run for 550 yards and five more scores.
Red Raiders junior quarterback Seth Doege hadn’t been a full-time starter since 2005, as a sophomore in high school before two major knee injuries and then waiting at Tech for his turn. His 32 completions a game are tops in FBS, while throwing for 3,644 yards and 25 touchdowns with eight interceptions.
“The season didn’t turn out as what I expected it to be,” Doege said. “My expectations for the team and for myself are a bit higher than what they are right now. At the same time we’re still in position to be a bowl-eligible team and make a bowl and finish this season strong on a good note.”