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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

December 29, 2011 at 10:49 PM

Thoughts on the shootout at the Alamo . . .

Whew. Anybody got any breath left after what we just saw at the Alamodome?

Sure, most of us expected a shootout. But I certainly didn’t expect such a no-holds-barred, forget-all-convention, defenseless track meet like we saw in Baylor’s 67-56 duke-out Thursday night against Washington in San Antonio. When ESPN analyst Chris Spielman opined earlier in the day that he could see 1,000 yards and 100 points of offense, I scoffed. A thousand yards was indeed possible, but 100 points?

Well, the over-under on the game was about 78 points, and with 8:28 to go in the third quarter, the teams had done the over.

Some random musings:

Keith Price was phenomenal for Washington, doing just about what he wanted. As good as Price has been throwing the ball, he was terrific running it on this night, especially on the play where he faked a throw and ducked into the end zone. If Matt Barkley weren’t coming back for USC next year, you could make the case that Price would be the most touted Pac-12 quarterback returning next year, given the exposure on a night when a lot of people tuned in to see Robert Griffin III.

— In the end, the two teams took what was available to them. Baylor played its safeties tight, did a respectable job against Chris Polk (save for the 56-yard burst for a score late in the half) but surrendered some gaping holes that were there for the Washington passing game. Washington seemed bent on taking away the Baylor deep-passing threats and generally did a good job with it, but was gashed by the Bears’ run game.

— I question why Baylor didn’t throw more blitz at Price. The Bears were getting killed by the deep pass, and they needed to do something to shake up Price’s rhythm. Yet, ironically, even as Spielman was urging Baylor to blitz on the key fourth-and-eight play on Washington’s last possession, the Bears opted to back off by one, rushing three on Price (rather than their customary four), and as UW luck would have it, Gary Mason got around UW offensive tackle Erik Kohler to pressure from Price’s right, and the quarterback fired high as he was hit. Said UW coach Steve Sarkisian on his KJR post-game show, “To Baylor’s credit, they played a coverage they hadn’t showed all night.”

— Speaking of questioning, UW defensive coordinator Nick Holt is going to be getting a lot of it for the school-record 777 yards allowed by the Huskies. After the ball was turned back to Baylor following Price’s fourth-down incompletion, Baylor up 60-56, it was obvious the Bears were finally going to try to eat up the clock and keep it on the ground. Yet the Huskies appeared to be in a six-man front when Terrance Ganaway broke through and galloped for the clinching score. Spielman was as perplexed at the UW front as I was, saying, “You’ve got to sell out on the run.”

— Imagine going on a 35-3 run in the heart of a game like this, and losing.

— The Pac-12 is 0-3 with four bowl games left. Of course, all three losers were underdogs, Arizona State and Washington decidedly so.

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