Florence leads Baylor past SMU

Associated Press Modified: September 2, 2012 at 10:51 pm •  Published: September 2, 2012

WACO, Texas (AP) — Robert Griffin III sent an encouraging text message to his college successor. Nick Florence then went out and did his best impression of Baylor's departed Heisman Trophy winner.

Florence threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns, Mike Hicks returned a fumble for a score and Baylor beat SMU 59-24 on Sunday night in the opener for both teams.

"He just told me to be myself," Florence said. "I learned a lot from (Griffin). He's done a lot for our program. Just because he leaves, doesn't mean anything different happens here."

For at least one game, Baylor's offense didn't miss a beat with Florence in charge.

Florence last started as a freshman in 2009 when he replaced an injured Griffin for several games.

The senior was 21 of 30 and guided Baylor to 613 yards of offense Sunday. The Bears scored at least 45 points for the fifth straight game.

"I couldn't ask for a better situation to step into," said Florence, who didn't play in the fourth quarter. "The guys have a lot of confidence and there a lot of playmakers out here."

Florence threw first-half touchdown passes to Lanear Sampson, Jordan Najvar and Tevin Reese, and hooked up with Sampson on a 36-yard scoring pass that put the Bears on top 45-3 in the third before Bryce Petty took over at quarterback.

Terrance Williams had 138 yards receiving, and Jarred Salubi and Glasco Martin each rushed for a TD.

"We felt like we knew what we had," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "I think they wanted to prove themselves and they did tonight."

SMU has lost 10 consecutive games to Baylor dating to 1986 when the schools were members of the defunct Southwest Conference.

The Mustangs' Garrett Gilbert was 34 of 59 for 286 yards and two touchdowns in his first game since transferring from Texas. Zach Line rushed for 135 yards.

The Bears intercepted two of Gilbert's passes and held the Mustangs without a touchdown until late in the third quarter.

"I've got to play better," Gilbert said "We can't shoot ourselves in the foot the way we did."

In last season's opener, Baylor blew a 24-point lead before beating TCU 50-48 on a late field goal. The Bears didn't need any late drama this time.

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