Waco, TX – Robert Griffin III threw five touchdown passes and ranked Baylor Bears to a 31 victory over former Southwest Conference rival Rice at Floyd Casey Stadium.
Griffin finished with 338 yards on 29-of-33 efficiency. The junior quarterback has now completed 70 of his 82 passes this season, and he has thrown more touchdown passes (13) than incompletions.
Kendall Wright had 108 yards and one touchdown on 11 receptions for Baylor, which is off to its first 3-0 start since 2005.
"Really a good win, kind of a workmanlike win, which is the way we wanted to approach the game," said Baylor head coach Art Briles.
Taylor McHargue threw three touchdown passes for the Owls (1-2), who were coming off a win over Purdue, their first against a team from a BCS conference since 2001, ending an 0-22 stretch.
"You can't play a team like Baylor and make the mistakes that we made offensively and defensively. And you can't have the type of mental errors we had and expect to walk away with the win," said Rice head coach David Bailiff.
Griffin highlighted a first-quarter offensive surge with three touchdown passes.
First, the Heisman Trophy hopeful found Terrence Williams for a four-yard strike after Rice's Chris Boswell missed a 55-yard field goal attempt. A little over two minutes later, Griffin and Lanear Sampson hooked up for a 29- yard score.
The Owls fumbled the ensuing kickoff, setting the stage for Wright's 17-yard TD reception. It was the senior's 20th career touchdown catch, a new Baylor record. He had been tied with Lawrence Elkins and Melvin Bonner.
On the first play of the second quarter, Terrance Ganaway ran up the middle for a four-yard touchdown to stretch Baylor's lead to 28-0.
Rice, though, climbed back into the game by outscoring the Bears 17-7 throughout the rest of the first half.
Following Baylor's fourth trip into the end zone, the Owls marched 80 yards in five plays and Jeremy Eddington capped the drive with a two-yard TD run.
After Griffin threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game, a 10-yarder to Ganaway, Rice drove to the Baylor 14 before settling for a 31-yard Boswell field goal.
This time, it was Baylor who coughed the ball up during a kickoff return, giving Rice a short field with which to work. Facing a 4th-and-1 from the 10, the Owls opted against a field goal try and caught a break when the Bears were flagged for offsides. McHargue connected with Vance McDonald for a five-yard TD on the next play to trim Rice's deficit to 35-17.
Baylor looked to pad its lead before halftime, but Griffin fumbled as he launched himself towards the end zone.
The Bears' initial series of the second half ended with a turnover on downs near midfield. However, three plays into the subsequent Rice drive, Ahmad Dixon picked off McHargue and sprinted 55 yards to the end zone.
Griffin then hit a streaking Tevin Reese in stride for a 64-yard TD, extending Baylor's advantage to 49-17.
After McHargue completed his second touchdown pass, Griffin capped his outstanding performance by rumbling four yards into the end zone with 54 seconds to go in the third quarter.
McHargue capped the scoring with his second TD pass to McDonald.
Baylor has won six straight against Rice and seven consecutive home games over non-conference opponents...The Bears scored 40-plus points in three straight games for the first time in school history...Ganaway carried 17 times for 78 yards...McHargue went 23-of-38 for 260 yards.