By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
WACO - Robert Griffin III has been one of the most lauded figures in college football all year.
There is even speculation the former Copperas Cove star will be among the select and honored few invited to New York City for the Heisman Trophy ceremony on Dec. 10. But not all the talk this week has been exactly endearing as No. 17 Baylor prepares for its regular-season finale against Texas.
"We don't plan on letting anyone win the Heisman against us," Texas linebacker Emmanuel Acho said on Monday.
Griffin shrugged off any inclination that he's even the slightest bit concerned with anything other than notching a second straight victory against the Longhorns (7-4, 4-4 Big 12). Last season, Griffin accounted for three touchdowns in a 30-22 win in Austin.
"It's not about the Heisman, I don't think they'll give it to me after the game whether we beat them or not," Griffin joked.
Entering today's nationally televised 2:30 p.m. game on ABC, the Bears (8-3, 5-3) are in a rare position of coming in as the favorite, mostly a credit to Griffin's heroics on similar stages throughout the year - including a dramatic last-minute win over then-No. 5
Oklahoma two weeks ago.
"I feel like over the last two weeks, we've righted 126 years of wrong. ... I would say we were due," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "We're fighting hard to make ourselves a legitimate opponent every time we step out on the field."
Running back Terrance Ganaway rushed for a career- and school-record 246 yards last Saturday when Griffin missed the entire second half of a 66-42 win over Texas Tech with concussion-like symptoms.
"I loved it. I had more fun on that sideline than I did in that first half," Griffin said. "But trust me, it's a lot more fun to be playing, and I'm looking forward to stepping back on the field with the team this week."
Griffin was put through multiple baseline concussion tests this week to determine whether he still showed any of the same symptoms he experienced during halftime. Briles has had the same response to questions about Griffin's health: "He's 100 percent and ready to go."
Although he initially had a hard time remembering some things, Griffin said this week he was more than ready to re-enter the game about five minutes into the second half. But in the effort of playing it "extremely safe," Baylor head athletic trainer Mike Sims actually took Griffin's helmet away and hid it, causing a little light tension on the sidelines.
"I think (when) it was 52-42, I told Mike, 'If this game gets any closer, you're going to have to fight me for my helmet,'" Griffin said. "I talked to my dad a little before that, told him I was looking to go back into the game once I settled in. And I did, but preferably our team stuck with it and extended that lead. ... So it shows those guys they can do it without me."
But against the Longhorns' Big 12-leading defense today, led by first-year coordinator Manny Diaz, that shouldn't be an option.
"He's their heartbeat," longtime Texas head coach Mack Brown said this week. "When he walks in that huddle, they all believe they're going to win the game and that's something that culture has changed. That wasn't that way at Baylor (and) it started his freshman year."