Posted by Tom Fornelli
BAYLOR WILL WIN IF: This may be a perfect matchup for Baylor. Not only is the game being played only a few hours away from the school's campus, but the Bears will also be facing a defense that hasn't shown much ability to stop anybody this season. Against the top three scoring offenses in the Pac-12 (Stanford, Oregon and USC) the Huskies allowed an average of 46.33 points a game. Which is music to the ears of a Baylor offense that finished the season averaging 43.5 points per game and has the Heisman Trophy winner handling the ball on every snap. This could be Robert Griffin's final game in a Baylor uniform, and he's going to want to end his college career with a bang. Washington will present him with a great chance to do so. Of course, as is usually the case in Baylor games, if the Bears want to win then the defense is going to have to make some stops.
We know the Bears will score points, but while Washington's offense isn't on the same level as Baylor, it can put points on the board too. So a Baylor defense that has given up 35.7 points per game this season is going to have to play a bit better than that if the Bears want to finish the season with 10 wins.
WASHINGTON WILL WIN IF: The Huskies are going to need to have their best defensive effort of the season to pull this one off, or at the very least, force enough turnovers to keep themselves in the game. Facing a passing attack like Baylor's is not good news for a Washington pass defense that has allowed opponents to complete 62% of their passes at 7.5 yards per attempt. Which means that the best way for Washington to slow RG3 will probably be to get pressure on him, which won't be easy given Griffin's mobility and the fact that the Huskies haven't had a great pass rush this season. Further complicating things is the fact that the Huskies defense has allowed over 4.5 yards per carry to opposing running backs this season as well, so even if Washington can keep Griffin in check, it'll still have to deal with a Terrence Ganaway and a Baylor offense that averages 215 rushing yards a game.
So the best bet for Washington in this one may be to get into a shootout and hope it has the ball last. Scoring points is something that Washington has shown it's capable of this season, with both Keith Price and Chris Polk proving to be hard to stop. The problem is that while the Huskies averaged 35.6 points per game in their first 8 contests, they averaged only 23.25 points a game over their last 4, so it's no surprise that Washington lost 3 of those games. The good news for Washington is that Baylor's defense has a unique ability to make your offense look a lot better than it is.
X-FACTOR: Chris Polk. We've already gone over Washington's run defense, but the truth is Baylor's is probably worse. The Bears allowed nearly 200 yards a game on the ground this season, and gave up 5.18 yards per carry. This is good news for Chris Polk, who rushed for 1,341 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. The best thing Washington can probably do for its defense to slow down Baylor would be to keep Robert Griffin and company off the field as much as possible. The best way to do this will be to utilize Polk and sustain long drives.