Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III won’t look at it this way, but occupying a mid-day TV spot on a Saturday afternoon when just about all the other Heisman contenders were off gave Griffin the chance to make or break his Heisman campaign.
No, you’d have to believe Griffin was focused on winning the game.
Mission accomplished. No. 19 Baylor pulled away from Texas by a final score of 48-24 and landed a nine-win season for the first time since 1986; the Bears have the chance to get 10 wins with a bowl victory for the first time since 1980.
But Griffin absolutely helped his Heisman stock today. The stats were there (15-of-22 for 320 yards and four total touchdowns), but an award that goes to “the most outstanding player in college football” is more than that. Griffin looked great under pressure today, threw the ball with good accuracy in tough situations and even laid a nice block.
Griffin was, and has been, a very complete player and fun to watch.
“Outstanding” has an open-ended interpretation; to me, it’s about the whole body of work, and RGIII has been solid all year. Baylor’s three losses and 111th-best scoring defense aren’t his fault.
But Heisman voting, like many other things in college football, can be a knee-jerk reaction. Just look at the SEC title game. LSU CB Tyrann Matheiu was all but out of the Heisman Top 5 a few weeks ago. But, a few big kick returns and some nice defensive play by Honey Badger and he’s apparently right back in the middle of the race.
Matheiu won’t win the Heisman, but he’s hot right now.
RGIII, on the other hand, has a legit shot to win the Heisman because of where he was in the race before, combined with the exposure he got today. That could really help him in the final voting when you consider how wide open the Heisman race has become in recent weeks.
And, really, there have been a lot of great players this year. Matt Barkley, Kellen Moore, Montee Ball, Case Keenum, Trent Richardson, Andrew Luck… the list goes on of guys who could make a case for themselves.
The difference is that almost all of them didn’t get one final crack to impress voters, many of whom have kept their ballot.
Whoever wins the Heisman, whether it’s RGIII, Luck or otherwise, will have deserved it. Even if Griffin doesn’t win, there’s no taking away his amazing season (45 total touchdowns accounted for) and what he’s meant to Baylor football.