November knockout: No. 19 football was perfect 4-0

No. 18 defensive end Tevin Elliot returns a fumble 86 yards for a touchdown Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011, in Floyd Casey Stadium during Baylor's game against Iowa State. The Bears celebrated a 49-26 victory over the Cyclones.Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

By Stephen Hawkins
Associated Press Sports Writer

ARLINGTON — A November to remember for Robert Griffin III and No. 19 Baylor.

The Bears finished a perfect 4-0 month by finally getting a Big 12 win over Texas Tech, a record-setting 66-42 victory even though Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterback RG3 played only a half because of an apparent concussion.

That came a week after Baylor (8-3, 5-3 Big 12) beat Oklahoma for the first time, knocking the Sooners out of the national title chase. There was also the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in team history to win at Kansas, and a Homecoming victory over Missouri.

“These last four weeks have been pretty magical,” coach Art Briles said.

Before those four wins, the Bears were a combined 4-47 in Big 12 games played in November since the league began play in 1996. After getting bowl eligible for the first time in the Big 12 era last season, Baylor didn’t win a game after October.

“We just feed of what happened last year, and I can remember that,” Griffin said. “This year, we wanted to make sure we finish the season. And we’re doing that right now. … You learn from mistakes in life, and we’re definitely doing that.”

Even with Griffin sidelined after halftime Saturday night, Baylor still scored at will against Texas Tech (5-7, 2-7) at Cowboys Stadium.

Being forced to watch the second half was a significant setback for Griffin’s chances of winning the Heisman.

“I don’t play for awards, so it doesn’t matter,” said Griffin, who threw a touchdown and ran for two scores against Tech. “We won the football game. I’m excited, I’ve got a smile on my face. … We’ve won eight games this year, and we’re excited about that.”

The last time Baylor had won eight games was 1991, when Grant Teaff was still their coach.

Texas Tech, which had won 15 in a row over Baylor, finished with its first losing record since 1992. The Red Raiders lost their last five games after a 41-38 upset last month at Oklahoma that ended the Sooners’ 39-game home winning streak.

Baylor still has two games left, the regular season finale at home Saturday against Texas and then another bowl game. Griffin said he will be ready to go against the Longhorns.

“There is no doubt,” Griffin said. “I was fine when I came out at halftime. But the doctors, it’s their call. … If it was up to coach, I would have been in there. If it was up to me, I would have been in there. But sometimes you’ve just got to play on the safe side.”

Griffin took a hard shot to the helmet late in the first half when he slid feet first at the end of an impressive scramble from one side of the field to the other. He remained flat on his back for a few moments before coming out of the game for one play. When he came back in, he scored a 3-yard keeper to put the Bears up 31-21.

When Griffin got a more thorough medical exam at halftime, team doctors determined that he needed to sit out the rest of the game.

“He had a little trouble remembering what was going on,” Briles said. “We were going to be cautious because that’s the right thing to do. Robert’s a tough guy. He wanted to go. … But he didn’t need to go.”

Nick Florence, the junior who hadn’t thrown a pass all season and was possibly going to be redshirted, threw touchdown passes of 46 yards to Kendall Wright and 40 yards to Terrance Williams before Joe Williams returned an interception 90 yards. The three-point halftime lead they had with Griffin was stretched to 52-28 late in the third quarter.

Florence finished 9-of-12 passing for 151 yards.

The Bears went on to score their most points ever in a conference game — in the Big 12 or in the Southwest Conference for eight decades before that. They had 617 total yards, including Terrance Ganaway’s 246 yards rushing on a school-record 42 carries with two touchdowns. Wright has six catches for 125 yards and two TDs.

It was Baylor’s sixth 600-yard game this season, and the Bears have already set a school record with 6,344 yards.

Griffin has 4,290 of those yards while accounting for 41 touchdowns (34 passing, seven rushing) with only five interceptions in 347 attempts. Ganaway’s 14 rushing TDs and Wright’s 12 receiving TDs are both single-season Baylor records.

“We’ve got great football players, we’ve got good people,” said Briles, who is in his fourth season. “It’s like I told them (Friday) night, I’m not the smartest man in the room, I don’t want to be. But I’m smart enough to recruit good football players and hire good coaches. … We’re forming a team that’s formidable, and we’re getting closer, but we’re not through.”