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Thiel: Spread against UW vs. Baylor in Alamo Bowl should be wider

'Washington's worst nightmare.' That's how Art Thiel describes Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. He won this year's Heisman Trophy and leads the best offense in the country.
Tony Gutierrez
AP Photo
'Washington's worst nightmare.' That's how Art Thiel describes Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. He won this year's Heisman Trophy and leads the best offense in the country.

The Washington Huskies travel to San Antonio Friday in preparation for the Alamo Bowl next week. They play Baylor on Thursday, Dec. 29.

Baylor is favored by nine points. KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel thinks the spread should be much more than that.

Best meets worst

Art says Baylor is tops when it comes to moving the ball.

"They have the most formidable offense in college football. And they're playing a team – the Washington Huskies – that has one of the worst pass defenses in the country. So, the opportunity for the bears to put up many, many points is considerable."

And it recently got worse for the Huskies. They lost their defensive backs coach Demetrius Martin to UCLA. Art says he's the first assistant to leave head coach Steve Sarkisian's staff since he arrived at the University of Washington three years ago.

"The Huskies are probably lesser than they were and they weren't very good to begin with – in terms of pass defense – because they've lost their coach that deals with them most regularly."

Baylor led by Heisman Trophy winner

Art says Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III is "Washington's worst nightmare." He flew under the radar of most casual sports fans until the Heisman finalists were announced a few weeks ago.

Art says that's because Griffin had a slow start to his career. He sat out a year with an injury. This year, as a redshirt junior, he says Griffin "lit it up like it's rarely been done." Baylor was 9-3 in 2011 with nation's leading offense.

"He developed not only the technique for throwing the long ball but also developed the judgment necessary to decide whether to run or to throw – and matured very dramatically. Personally, he is the acme of what college football wants as a Heisman Trophy winner. He's already got his degree. He's bright, articulate, funny, sophisticated, mature. And the team rallies around him like you rarely would see."

Art says, if Griffin declares himself eligible for the 2012 draft, he's likely a top five pick. He says, if the Seahawks make some moves to trade higher, there's an outside chance they could draft him.

Baylor could win big

The Alamo Bowl could be Griffin's last game as a college quarterback. He takes great pride in playing for Baylor. And the Bears want to do well in the national spotlight. All of those things motivate them to win big.

Art says that's not what Husky fans want to hear, but he says the game will be exciting nonetheless.

"You're going to be watching one of the great collegiate players ever in the game. It should be fun. It should be high-scoring. Neither team can play defense. Bowl teams don't play defense anyway. It's all about spectacle. It's all about showing off for recruits."

Art says the Huskies are winners no matter what happens. They finished the season with a respectable record of 7-5, after going 6-6 last year.  And they've made it to their second bowl game in two years. They beat Nebraska last year in the Holiday Bowl.

Not bad for a team that went 0-12 in 2008.

You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest.

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.