Baylor Victory Big In Many Ways

The Baylor Bears defeated the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Saturday, 66-42. With the regular season finale to be played Saturday against the Texas Longhorns, we take a closer look at what the victory over the Texas Tech Red Raiders means, give commentary on why the victory over Tech was important for more reasons than just the win column, and hand out our game balls.

The #18 Baylor Bears (8-3, 5-3) defeated the Texas Tech Red Raiders (5-7, 2-7) on Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium, 66-42. The Baylor victory means the Bears move to 8 wins on the season for the first time since 1991, but the path the Baylor players and coaches took to get win number eight may mean more to the team and program than most may realize. The Bears' victory over the Red Raiders had plenty of heroes and stars on both sides of the ball as we handout our game balls from Saturday night.

Offensive Game Ball:

The Bears accumulated over 600 yards of offense, set a single-game record of 38 first downs, and scored the most points in a conference game in program history in the victory on Saturday. With those numbers, BearsIllustrated.com is handing out 3 different game balls to the offense.

Running Back-Terrance Ganaway

42 carries, 246 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Ganaway's rushing yards is a career-best for the senior running back, and his 42 carries is a school-record for carries in a game. The bruising runner punished Texas Tech defenders who dared cross his path on Saturday as Ganaway eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark on the season.

Commentary on Ganaway: Coming out of spring practice, one of the biggest story-lines was the mystery of who would take the place of departing running back Jay Finley who became an NFL draft pick. Most of the early part of fall camp many believed it would be a 3-headed monster with Jarred Salubi, Glasco Martin, and Terrance Ganaway sharing carries. Some believed that incoming true freshman B.J. Allen had a shot to get into the rotation as well. It is easy to say that most of us were wrong with our assessment. Terrance Ganaway has become a workhorse back for the Baylor Bears, and perhaps his determination, stamina, and bulldozing efforts were not needed more than they were on Saturday night. The senior running back is only 24 yards shy of breaking the single-season rushing mark held by the aforementioned Jay Finley (1,128 yards).

Offensive Line-

With 102 offensive plays, the Baylor offense was on the field for a considerable amount of time. Without star quarterback Robert Griffin III out for the second half of Saturday night's game with concussion-like symptoms, the offensive line did not have the luxury of knowing that they had a world-class athlete behind them to make plays with his legs. Rather they knew they had to become road graders for the running backs and give backup quarterback Nick Florence enough time to make his throws downfield. The offensive line performed admirably for Baylor just as it has for the past two seasons. On Saturday, the Baylor offensive line opened up holes throughout the game allowing Baylor ball carriers to rush for 360 yards in the victory, and is now 5-0 this season when out rushing their opponent.

Commentary on the offensive line- Coming into the season, we knew the Bears offensive line was one of the biggest strengths on this football team. Run blocking has been rock-solid, if not phenomenal, for most of the season. For two seasons in a row, the offensive line has the paved the way for a 1,000 yard rusher, a feat that has only been accomplished twice in program history. The Bears have given up 24 sacks on the season, ranking them 78th in the country in sacks allowed, but Baylor still ranks 5th-best in the NCAA in passing offense, and currently ranks 17th-best in the country in rushing offense.

QB Nick Florence-

The plan was to red-shirt Florence this season. For ten and a half games, the plan was working. But after Baylor starting quarterback Robert Griffin III took a shot to the head after sliding near the sidelines in the 2nd quarter on Saturday night, Nick Florence was called upon to help lead the Bears to victory. In fact, Griffin III returned to the game after sitting out a play to rush for a touchdown. It was not until the waning moments of halftime that Florence realized he may have to go into the game. He answered the call. Florence completed 9 of 12 passes for 151 yards and 2 passing touchdowns. Florence rushed for another score, and helped grow the Baylor 3-point halftime lead to a 24-point victory.

Commentary on Florence- We didn' t think we would be talking about Florence at all this season. Not because he doesn't have the skills to lead a team, but because he was supposed to red-shirt. When it was determined that starting quarterback Robert Griffin III would not be returning into the game due to symptoms of a concussion, the Baylor coaches called upon the quarterback that most consider to be like another coach on the field. Florence possesses enough speed to keep a defense honest on the zone-read, and has the arm-strength to get the ball downfield. Two years ago, Florence led a Baylor team to victory over Missouri on the road. We know he can get it done when called upon, and he did just that on Saturday night. Bigger than the victory, perhaps, is the confidence this team has that it can continue to run the offense and continue to win football games even with a different signal-caller. It is understood that Texas Tech's defense has caught the injury-bug and that they have been a poor run-defense this season. However, the confidence that Florence displayed on the field in the victory on Saturday night may just have injected on-lookers with the confidence they needed that this team can and will find a way to win in the future when Griffin III is playing on Sundays.

Defensive Game ball

Defensively, the Bears fought through the efficient Texas Tech passing attack on Saturday night. While the Baylor defense did give up 42 points and 444 total yards on offense, they also caused 4 key turnovers in the victory. The Bears' defense has now caused at least one turnover in every game this season. Up front, the Baylor starting defensive line set the tone early stopping the Red Raider offense on the first two drives of the game allowing the Bears to take a 10-0 lead. Bears defensive lineman Tracy Robertson recorded a sack on Tech's first 3rd-down play of the game. In addition to Robertson's strong defensive play, the Bears entire unit held the Red Raiders to zero rushing yards in the first half and 46 total rushing yards on the game. While the Baylor secondary allowed 398 yards through the air, Baylor defensive backs K.J. Morton and Joe Williams each recorded an interception. We hand our game ball to Joe Williams who returned his interception for a Baylor score.

CB Joe Williams-

On the night, Williams notched 4 tackles and 3 pass breakups. However, the play that Williams made in the 3rd quarter is the one that earns him the game ball. With the Bears up 45-28 late in the 3rd quarter, Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege had the Red Raiders 2nd and 3 at the Bears 15 yard line. Doege's pass to the right side was picked off at the 10 yard line by Williams who raced 90 yards for a Baylor score. Williams' interception was the first of his Baylor career and marks the longest interception returned for a touchdown for Baylor since 1979.

The Bears now turn their attention to Saturday when they host the Texas Longhorns. Kick-off is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

For previews, discussions, and analysis on the upcoming Longhorns vs. Bears game, as well as all the latest on Baylor recruiting and athletics, keep it tuned to BearsIllustrated.com. You can also catch the BearsIllustrated.com Report every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. on ESPN Radio Central Texas.

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