The usual football lexicon doesn’t apply to what college football fans witnessed Thursday night in the Baylor Bears’ 67-56 win over the Washington Huskies in the Alamo Bowl.
“Slugfest” – get out of here.
“Shootout” – doesn’t even begin to describe a game in which the teams combined for more than 120 points and 1,397 yards of total offense combined.
“Instant classic” – only in the Arena League.
SBNation’s superlative columnist Spencer Hall probably summed it up best:
Was that a shovel pass? Is this Abe Lincoln with a Skyrim helmet on my couch drinking a Champale? Flies? Everywhere? THIS GAME IS DRUGS.
— edsbs (@edsbs) December 30, 2011
Every snap surged through viewers’ veins like liquid adrenaline. In a sport where we’re taught that big plays are thrilling outliers from the normal action, both squads ripped off gains of 50 yards without a second thought. Get up to grab a beer from the fridge and you risked missing a touchdown, maybe two.
Late in the fourth quarter, Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton wrapped the spectacle up in a bow for the holiday season by wrestling a kickoff away from a teammate, barreling down the field and doing his best Michael Dyer impersonation after landing on a would-be Baylor tackler. The fact that he fumbled the ball back to the Bears, effectively ending UW’s hopes for an upset, couldn’t have been scripted any better.
The advertising wizards at ESPN pumped the contest beforehand as a showcase for Robert Griffin III, Baylor’s Heisman-winning quarterback, in what may be his final collegiate game. He delivered, ringing up 350 yards of total offense and two touchdowns.
Somehow, though, RG3′s usual splendor was overshadowed by all the eye-popping performances surrounding him:
- Baylor RB Terrance Ganaway – 21 carries, 200 rushing yards, 5 TDs.
- Washington QB Keith Price – 23-37 passing attempts, 438 passing yards, 4 TDs.
- Washington WR Jermaine Kearse – 5 receptions, 198 receiving yards, 1 TD.
- Baylor RB Jarred Salubi – 5 carries, 101 rushing yards, 2 TDs.
Both defenses lived up – or, perhaps, down – to billing, though, serving as a reminder of why greater glory than the Alamo Bowl rarely awaits teams like Baylor and Washington. This was the polar opposite of the 9-6 war of wills waged earlier this season by LSU and Alabama, the two best defenses in the country that also happen to belong to the two teams playing for this year’s national championship.
Football purists will undoubtedly decry Baylor and Washington’s defense-optional contest as college football’s most vicious assault yet on common decency. Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler were likely turning in their graves every time a Bear or Huskies crossed the goal line.
Well, if games like this one mean we’re going to hell in a bucket, at least we’ll enjoy the ride.