Arlington, Texas Robert Griffin III stood on the sideline after halftime holding a towel and watching, the Heisman Trophy hopeful done for the night because of an apparent concussion.
Though Griffin wanted to play, Baylor medical officials took away his helmet before the second half against Texas Tech.
Even without their leader, the 21st-ranked Bears practically scored at will in a 66-42 victory Saturday night.
“I’m excited. I’ve got a smile on my face,” Griffin said. “I only got to play half of the game, but I tried to contribute as much as I could.”
Baylor (8-3, 5-3 Big 12) set a school mark for most points in a conference game — Big 12 or the Southwest Conference for decades before that — but was already ahead to stay when Griffin scored on a 3-yard keeper just before halftime. That score came after he was on the sideline for one play after taking an elbow to the helmet while sliding at the end of a run.
“We got in at halftime, he had a little trouble remembering what was going on,” coach Art Briles said. “We were going to be cautious because that’s the right thing to do. Robert’s a tough guy. He wanted to go. ... But he didn’t need to go.”
Nick Florence, the junior who hadn’t thrown a pass all season and was possibly going to be redshirted, filled in aptly.
Florence completed nine of 12 passes for 151 yards with a pair of long touchdowns. He threw a 46-yard TD to Kendall Wright and a 40-yarder to Terrance Williams before Joe Williams returned an interception 90 yards to push Baylor ahead 52-28.
“It was a team win. I’m still kind of taking it all in right now,” said Florence, the primary starter after Griffin got hurt only three games into the 2009 season. “If I’m going to remove (the red shirt), let’s remove it like that.”
Terrance Ganaway rushed 42 times for 246 yards and two touchdowns, giving him a school-record 14 for the Bears, who reached eight wins for the first time since 1991.
“Never would I have thought that we would have that many rushes in a game with Art Briles’ offense,” Ganaway said, smiling.
“Our offensive line was just dominating,” Briles said. “There’s not many 242-pound backs in the nation that have the agility and speed that Ganaway has.”
Texas Tech (5-7, 2-7) finished with its first losing record since 1992. The Red Raiders lost their last five games after a 41-38 upset last month at Oklahoma, which Baylor beat at home last week.
“This is as frustrating as it gets. We didn’t meet the expectations we had,” Tech quarterback Seth Doege said. “When your season doesn’t end on a high note, you feel bad for the seniors.”
Griffin had scrambled from one side of the field to the other and slid inside the 5 with a first down when defensive back Cornelius Douglas came in hard with an elbow that knocked Griffin’s head back to the turf. The quarterback remained flat on his back for a couple of moments before coming out of the game for a play. He then returned for his second touchdown run to make it 31-21.
When the game was over, Briles hugged a smiling Griffin and kissed him on the cheek.
The two teams combined for 108 points and 1,061 total yards at Cowboys Stadium, where Baylor outgained the Red Raiders 617 to 444. The Bears had 294 before halftime with Griffin.
“It was pretty much tonight like it’s gone the rest of the year. We just haven’t been able to stop anybody on defense,” said coach Tommy Tuberville, whose team also gave up 66 points against Oklahoma State earlier this month.
Griffin, the national leader in total offense (412 yards per game), completed 7 of 11 passes for 106 yards with a touchdown. He ran 14 times for 62 yards.
Griffin had a school-record 551 total yards against Oklahoma, including the game-winning TD pass with 8 seconds left in a 45-38 victory for the Bears’ first win in 21 chances against the Sooners.
Texas Tech had won all previous 15 games against the Bears as Big 12 members.