Robert Griffin III Will Vindicate Heisman Voters with Alamo Bowl Performance
With so many viable candidates in play, Robert Griffin III’s Heisman victory wasn’t without controversy. When Griffin’s Baylor Bears take on the Washington Huskies in the Alamo Bowl, RGIII will leave no doubt about who the best player in the country really is.
Griffin was the most valuable player in college football this season, dragging a Baylor team with one of the worst defenses in the nation to an 8-3 record. Yet even with a full-season’s worth of film and statistics, it’s hard to separate that from Montee Ball’s record-setting scoring, Tyrann Mathieu’s electric ball-hawking, Andrew Luck’s NFL-ready efficiency, or Trent Richardson’s consistent stream-rolling.
Even those who believed that Griffin deserved the Heisman couldn’t really fault voters for choosing another of the five finalists. On December 29th, Griffin will have one final opportunity to distance himself from the pack.
He certainly has the ability to do so, and the situation is already slanted in his favor.
He's on a Roll
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Griffin has been incredibly consistent this season, but through his last seven games, he’s somehow managed to push his game up a notch.
He’s thrown for at least 300 yards in six of those seven contests, and he has exceeded 400 yards passing four times. Before suffering an injury against Texas Tech—the one game in that span in which he didn’t top 300 yards—Griffin had already racked up 107 yards and a touchdown on just 11 pass attempts.
RGIII and the Baylor offense are in a remarkable groove right now. The Bears have won five straight, and are averaging 46.4 points per game during the streak.
He's Facing a Terrible Defense
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The Big 12 isn’t exactly a haven for elite pass defenses, but in the Washington Huskies will be the worst pass defense that Griffin faces all season.
Washington has the nation’s 116th ranked pass defense, allowing 283 yards per game.
Most every opponent that has attempted to air it out against the Huskies has been rewarded with great success. Eight teams have attempted at least 30 passes against Washington this season. Seven of those teams racked up at least 300 passing yards.
That rate is actually better than Griffin’s own pace. He’s thrown for 300 yards only five out of the six times that he’s attempted 30 passes or more.
It'll Be a Shootout
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Washingon’s pass defense is bad.
Baylor’s total defense might be worse.
The Bears rank 114th in the nation in total defense, allowing nearly 480 yards per game.
The Huskies aren’t great on offense, but quarterback Keith Price and running back Chris Polk give Washington a couple of dynamic playmakers. Price averages 8.1 yards per pass attempt and Polk delivers 5.1 yards per rush. If Steve Sarkisian can get 25-30 attempts for each, Washington should have no trouble topping its average of 31 points per game.
Oddly enough, this is great news for Griffin. Facing an offense that can keep pace with its own will force Baylor to keep its collective foot on the gas pedal. If Griffin gets to 40 pass attempts—he averages an FBS-best 10.8 yards per attempt—I wouldn’t be surprised if Baylor puts up 60 points in this game.
His Competitors All Have More Difficult Matchups
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Everything seems to be lining up for old RGIII.
Unfortunately, his fellow finalists for the Heisman Trophy are not so lucky this bowl season.
Montee Ball has Barry Sanders' single-season touchdown record in sight, but he faces an Oregon rush defense that gives up only 3.5 yards per carry. Even worse, according to SB Nation, it looks like Ball will be without his starting center in the Rose Bowl.
Trent Richardson has the prestige of the BCS Championship Game on his side, but he faces off against an LSU defense that allows only 2.6 yards per rushthird-best in the nation.
Andrew Luck has been remarkably efficient this season, but he’ll run up against a ball-hawking defense in the Fiesta Bowl. Oklahoma State’s defense ranks second in the nation with 23 interceptions on the season.
Tryann Mathieu rematches against the team that held him to his worst game all season. Mathieu’s first outing against Alabama was the only game this in season in which he didn’t attempt a punt return.
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Even with Price, Polk and the Washington offense shredding the inept Bears defense, RGIII should have on problem leading his Baylor team to its ninth victory of the season.
The Bears may give up 35, or even 40, but Griffin will score enough to win (and cover).
Statistically speaking, 350 yards and four touchdowns through the air along with 60 yards and a score on the ground seems like a fair prediction.
Combine that with the fact that Griffin’s team plays before those of all of his Heisman-nominated compatriots, and you have a recipe for validation.
Robert Griffin III fully deserved his Heisman Trophy. At the Alamo Bowl, he’ll prove it.