BY Art Thiel 06:30AM 12/05/2011

Thiel: Huskies’ bad luck: Baylor QB better than Luck

If the Huskies’ defense couldn’t stop Pac-12 schools, what will it do against a team averaging 571 yards a game? Check out the Alamo Bowl and its Touchdown Circus to find out.

Washington Huskies defensive coordinator Nick Holt's game plan will be under seiges by Baylor's Robert Griffin in the Alamo Bowl. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Since almost no one is happy with how the bowl system shakes out every year, why should Washington and Baylor be any different?

Not to be ingrates, but . . . 

Baylor (9-3) thinks it should in one of the five BCS bowls, and Washington thinks it shouldn’t have to face Andrew Luck twice in a season.

Actually, the Huskies aren’t facing the Stanford quarterback again. They are facing someone better — Robert Griffin III (a k a RG 3), who might beat out Luck for the Heisman Trophy next weekend.

The way the Huskies play pass defense — like water birds against a surfacing alligator — Griffin’s anticipation for the Valero Alamo Bowl match-up may cause him to spontaneously combust. That would seem to be Washington’s primary, if not only, hope.

Griffin is the nation’s pass efficiency leader who was considered by college football panelists on ESPN’s BCS show to be the greatest athlete in college football this year as well someone who can heal the sick, sanctify the profane and have the correct change for the bus.

He throws deep balls well to one of the nation’s premier receivers, Kendall Wright. The Bears’ running back, Terrance Ganaway, won the Big 12 rushing title with 1,347 yards. Baylor won its last five by averaging 46 points a game. The Huskies scored more than that just once this season.

The primary reason Baylorlost three games (to Kansas State, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State) was because of a defense almost as bad as Washington’s. The Bears felt they were deserving of a Cotton Bowl berth that went to K-State (10-2), but a 36-35 loss in Manhattan to the Wildcats Oct. 1 turned out to be the decider.

But the Alamo Bowl has the redemptive quality of being in San Antonio,  just a three-hour drive south of the Baylor campus in Waco. It will be a home game of sorts, and the first bowl game for the Bears since 1992, which suggests the bowl thirst of nearly a generation of Baylor fans will be slaked by filling up the Alamodome’s 65,000 seats.

Meanwhile, in Montlake, there is happiness over a second bowl appearance, but besides the apprehension over Griffin, there’s also a little disappointment that the opponent isn’t Oklahoma, the early favorite for the Big 12 entrant. Then there is the issue of figuring out what a Valero is. Turns out it’s a large petroleum company with a small presence in Washington. Next time you’re on Beacon Hill, check out the C&C Mart. It’s the only Valero store in Seattle.

But the mystery sponsor is only a trifle in the thoughts of the Huskies, especially compared to the concerns of other programs nationally and regionally. Washington is not changing coaches — as did four Pac-12 schools this year — or conferences, nor begging the Legislature for stadium renovation money, because school officials wisely decided to make rich people pay for it.

Nor does Washington have a dawg in the hunt for BCS malfeasance, an annual ritual of many nationally. This time around, the selection of LSU and Alabama as title combatants has drawn groans and some epithets because it is a rematch of a game LSU won 9-6 in overtime.

So much for the argument offered by the dwindling crowd of BCS defenders that say every regular-season game counts.

As with rerun, repose and revulsion, rematch is a word that should not be repeated in describing a championship game in a sport that is not based on a playoff system, but opinion. As long as we’re throwing darts regarding qualifications, in my opinion, Oklahoma State would have been a better match for LSU.

The previous LSU-Alabama match (Game of the Century!?) turned out to be meaningless, as far as getting into the BCS’s top game. Losing was as meaningless to the ambition of Alabama (11-1)  to a national title (even though there is no such thing  national title the top tier college football), as was the win was to the same ambition for LSU (12-0).

The BCS had a worthy alternative in Oklahoma State (11-1), which won the Big 12 title Saturday over Oklahoma 44-10 in such a persuasive fashion that many football fans would prefer to see the Cowboys in the final game.

But no. The Cowboys finished a close third in the BCS poll, as well as the Associated Press poll and USA Today coaches poll, even though they might be the best team aside from LSU and ineligible USC. The fact that this year’s SEC intra-conference, intra-division rematch for the quasi-title blows away the BCS’s last fig leaf, will not keep the BCS from insisting it has a system at least as valid as the Republican presidential primary. Fair point, grim analogy.

But for the Huskies, the harangue is only a distant echo.  They concern themselves with only one thing — defending a team that averages 571 yards of offense per game. That is enough. Defensive coordinator Nick Holt is tasked with avoiding the first thousand-yard game in college football history, and it will fill his days and torment his nights for three weeks.


  • BLB

    A few botched facts: this is Baylor’s second consecutive bowl game, as Baylor went bowling last year (Texas Bowl).  Moreover, Baylor went to the Alamo Bowl in 1994 (played WSU, no less).  Article correction needed.

  • Cruddly

    It’s apparent the folks who sponsor the Alamo Bowl wanted to entertain viewers who tune in to the game on Dec 29.  This could turn into a great shoot out if the Huskies hold up their part of the bargain like they didn’t against all the other ranked teams they played this season.  And this is what we don’t want  —  a blowout loss on national television.  
    Hopefully, the Alamo Bowl will get what they wished for, a dazzling display of offense, similar to those old school Holiday Bowls when BYU played teams with equally explosive offenses and with little if any defense.   That basically describes both Baylor and the UW this year, but Baylor has home field advantage, and the Huskies’ offense seems to get discouraged whenever opposing teams slice and dice their defense,  so Baylor 56  UW 35.

  • andrew luck

    bears 59, that other team 14

  • Brandon26_91

    you guys are crazy uw wins this 35 to 28, last year nebraska put 56 on us then barely managed to score 7 points in the bowl game

  • BMV

    Baylor has the 112th ranked Defense in the nation which is just as bad as UW, and to make matters worse, their run D is one of the worst in the entire country.  While ESPN and the rest of the sports drive-by media is going to keep taking turns asking RG3 to marry them, I got a question for all of them.  How does Baylors D plan to stop Polk? 

  • BMV

    Baylor has the 112th ranked Defense in the nation which is just as bad as UW, and to make matters worse, their run D is one of the worst in the entire country.  While ESPN and the rest of the sports drive-by media is going to keep taking turns asking RG3 to marry them, I got a question for all of them.  How does Baylors D plan to stop Polk?