HOUSTON (AP) — Robert Griffin III had plenty of time to set goals for this year while sitting out most of last season recovering from knee surgery.
High on that list was getting Baylor back to a bowl game for the first time in 16 seasons.
On Wednesday, Baylor's star quarterback hopes to scratch another goal off that list. The Bears look for their first bowl win since 1992 when they face Illinois in the Texas Bowl.
"It's great because we haven't been in a bowl in forever," Griffin said. "Our fans are excited and it's on the national stage so people get to see us play and we get to make a statement."
A win against Illinois would give the Bears eight wins for the first time since 1991 and double their win total from a year ago, when Griffin tore his right ACL in the third game of the season.
"When I first got here I thought it would be easy to get back to a bowl game — six wins was nothing in my opinion," Griffin said. "I had a rude awakening. But we worked hard to get to where we are now so we take pride in where we are now and not just being here but getting a win."
After almost a year of grueling rehabilitation, Griffin returned this season to lead the Bears and set five single-season school records. His 3,195 yards passing, 3,795 yards of total offense, 144.23 pass efficiency rating, 66.3 completion percentage and 29 touchdowns are all tops in Baylor history.
He said the thought of helping his team gain respectability drove him during his recovery.
"When you go through an ACL rehab you have to make a decision early on whether or not you want to be great or not and if I didn't love the game of football I wouldn't have been back," he said. "So I knew I had to give it my all because not only was my talent needed but there was a lot of people relying on me to be back and be better than I ever was."
Baylor coach Art Briles, who is looking for his first bowl win as a head coach, was impressed with the work Griffin put in to get back on the field and he thinks the time away may have helped him.
"I think from an emotional standpoint, I think he really grew as an individual," Briles said. "From a schematic standpoint and understanding the game of football, I think it helped him letting the game set aside, slow down, watch and see how things happen, why they happen and where they're going to happen."
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