Tannehill throws six TDs to lead Aggies
Texas A&M hasn't been able to throw the ball deep all season.
On Saturday the Aggies finally discovered that aspect of their game and it propelled an already potent offense to its best performance of the year.
Ryan Tannehill threw for 415 yards and a career-high six touchdown passes and Ryan Swope caught four of them, also a career-best, to lead No. 21 Texas A&M to a 55-28 win over No. 20 Baylor.
The Bears got within six points after a touchdown run by Terrance Ganaway in third quarter, but the Aggies scored 21 straight to take a 55-28 lead with about six minutes remaining in the game.
Swope's fourth touchdown - his second 68-yard reception of the game - was the first in that span. He finished with 206 yards receiving and also had a 68-yard TD reception in the second quarter. He also scored on receptions of 8 and 5 yards.
Texas A&M finished with a season-high 681 yards of offense.
Swope said getting the downfield passing game going was key in the win.
''That gave us so much energy,'' he said. ''We've been waiting all season. We practice it and we finally did it today.''
Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman raved about Swope.
''He just keeps getting better and better,'' Sherman said. ''He's a fierce competitor. He will do whatever he can to win the football game.''
Baylor star quarterback Robert Griffin III threw for a school-record 430 yards and three touchdowns, but the Bears had trouble running the ball and were outgained 266-50 on the ground. Griffin is the third quarterback this season to set a school record against the Aggies' worst-in-the-nation pass defense.
He seemed to imply that a game like this could cause a wedge between the offense and defense.
''There's no dissent within the team, but you can't sit on the sideline and be a critic,'' he said. ''It's not your job as an offensive player. It's our job to try to help the defense out as much as we can and when we get on the field to score points.''
Texas A&M (4-2, 2-1 Big 12), has won three in a row over the Bears and the loss leaves Baylor (4-2, 1-2) without a win against its longtime rival at Kyle Field since 1984. The Bears may not get another chance for some time with the Aggies leaving for the Southeastern Conference in July.
Tannehill found a wide-open Uzoma Nwachukwu on a 47-yard TD reception after Swope's fourth touchdown and Christine Michael got his second on a 4-yard run later in the fourth quarter. He finished with 105 yards rushing.
Michael's score came after Griffin was intercepted for only the second time this season.
Trailing 41-28, the Bears got down to the Texas A&M 9 on a 50-yard reception by Tevin Reese on the last play of the third quarter. Baylor's offense stalled after that, though, and A&M got the ball back when Griffin threw an incomplete pass as he was being hit on fourth down.
''We didn't do a good job of maintaining momentum,'' Baylor coach Art Briles said. ''We didn't get off the field when we needed to on the defensive side.''
Down 31-14 early in the third quarter, Baylor got a 49-yard kickoff return from Antwan Goodley and Griffin hit a wide open Reese for a 43-yard touchdown pass two plays later to cut A&M's lead to 31-21. Reese drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for mocking A&M's hand gesture by holding his thumb down to the crowd after the score.
Randy Bullock's 47-yard field goal stretched the A&M lead to 34-21 a couple of minutes later.
Baylor ran a 17-play drive that spanned through the first and second quarters, but came up empty when Griffin was sacked on third-down from A&M's 8-yard-line before a 30-yard field goal attempt by Aaron Jones sailed wide right.
The Aggies took their first lead of the game when Swope got in front of Sam Holl for a 68-yard touchdown catch to make it 10-7 in the second quarter.
''So far this year we have really been limited in our deep passing because of the coverages teams are playing,'' Tannehill said. ''But we knew coming into this game we'd get a couple of looks and guys were able to capitalize on that.''
Texas A&M wouldn't stay on top for long after Griffin hit Terrance Williams on a 77-yard touchdown pass on the first play of Baylor's next drive to make it 14-10. Williams wriggled out of an arm tackle by Coryell Judie with a spin move and dashed to the end zone.
Michael scored on a 7-yard reception from Tannehill to give A&M a 17-14 lead in the second quarter on a drive that was helped by 30 yards of penalties by Baylor.
The Aggies extended their lead to 24-14 when Swope caught his second touchdown pass, this one for 8 yards, less than a minute before halftime.
Tevin Elliott intercepted a pass by Tannehill that was deflected on Texas A&M's first drive. The Bears converted that turnover when Griffin found Wright on a 6-yard touchdown pass to give them a 7-0 lead.
Texas A&M cut the lead to 7-3 with a 35-yard field goal by Bullock later in the first quarter.