Robert Griffin III has had a season to remember. The junior QB led the Baylor Bears to a 9-3 record, including victories over Oklahoma and Texas. He put up the kind of numbers generally seen only when playing NCAA 2012 on PS3: 3,998 yards, 36 touchdowns and an FBS-leading 192.32 passer efficiency rating. He also ran for nine more scores.
Griffin is as dynamic a playmaker as there is in college football this season. If the Bears had perhaps gone 11-1, he would undeniably be the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy. While he will certainly garner an invite to New York, Griffin is likely to lose out on the award to Alabama's Trent Richardson or Stanford's Andrew Luck.
After he returns from the Big Apple, Griffin will have a new challenge: leading his team against the upstart Washington Huskies in the Alamo Bowl. The recent history for Washington has been nothing short of inspiring. The Huskies will be playing in their second consecutive bowl game after being only three years removed from an 0-12 season. They will be looking to notch their eighth win for the first time since 2001.
The Huskies are led by sophomore QB Keith Price and junior RB Chris Polk. Will the Huskies have the firepower to match the explosive Baylor offense? Can the Baylor defense overcome its 114th overall ranking? Let's take a look at some of the key matchups that will help determine which team will remember the Alamo and which team would rather forget it.
In the BCS National Championship Game, the most important matchup will be between the dominant defenses of LSU and Alabama. We won't have to worry about that in this one. It's all about the offenses and you can expect a shootout.
Keith Price will have a hard time matching numbers with Robert Griffin III. The key for Price will be not turning the football over. His 11 interceptions this season placed him in the bottom half of the Pac-12. Not giving the Bears extra possessions will be critical.
But let's be realistic here. Washington is 94th in the the FBS in total defense and that should not provide much of a stumbling block for Griffin. His exceptional arm is matched only by his ability to read the defense, knowing when to rocket one down the field or tuck it and run.
This truly is the most important matchup of the game. If the Washington defense cannot stop the runaway train, otherwise known as the Baylor offense, it won't matter how well Price and company play.The Washington defense has to do their best impression of the Green Bay Packers: Bend but don't break, and be opportunistic.
Baylor was sixth in the nation in scoring at more than 43 points a game and just hung 48 on a highly regarded Texas defense. The hope for Washington is that Baylor gets sloppy, as it did commit 23 turnovers on the season.
With the 99th-ranked scoring defense in the FBS, the Huskies' only chance of slowing down Baylor will clearly be forcing turnovers.
Art Briles has done a magnificent job turning around the Baylor program. He has increased the talent level of recruits and people in Waco are excited about both football and basketball for the first time in years. As a head coach at Houston, he led the Cougars to a Conference USA Championship and guided the likes of Kevin Kolb.
With that said, Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian has seen it all: BCS games, Heisman winners and national championships. Although it was as an assistant coach, Sarkisian is no stranger to the big stage. In his seven years at USC, Sarkisian was known as an offensive genius (of course, it helped to have guys like Carson Palmer, Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart).
The job the Sarkisian has done at Washington in three season has been nothing short of amazing, taking them from winless laughingstock to bowl winners last year. Even without Jake Locker, Sarkisian is getting the job done.
Washington will be given the unenviable task of trying to keep up with the Baylor offense. What the Huskies cannot do, however, is try to be Baylor. By that I mean they must stay true to their game, and that is to pound the rock with stud running back Chris Polk.
Polk rushed for 1,341 yards this season, third in the Pac-12. He is Washington's most dynamic playmaker and a good receiver out of the backfield.
As cliche as it may seem, the best way to slow the Baylor offense is to keep RG3 and company off the field. Running the football effectively will be key for Washington. Baylor gives up nearly 200 rushing yards a game, so even if the Bears jump out to an early lead, it will be imperative for the Huskies to stay with the ground attack as it is their most favorable matchup.
Considering where the Washington program was just a few years ago, it's hard not to believe there is something special happening in Seattle. Even though the Huskies did not win any of their games against elite competition this season (Nebraska, USC, Oregon, Stanford), they did win the Holiday Bowl just last year against the Cornhuskers when they were heavy underdogs. Going up against Baylor won't make the Washington players bat an eye, trust me.
However, there seems to be something truly special going on with this Baylor team. Beating Oklahoma and Texas in the same season would be impressive for any team, let alone perennial Big 12 doormat Baylor. Robert Griffin III is the real deal and has the entire country watching with amazement every time he drops back.
The Washington Huskies have bright days ahead with Sarkisian at the helm, but the Alamo Bowl will belong to the Baylor Bears.
Prediction: Baylor 45, Washington 31