By ALAN FERGUSON
(AP) -- Having thrown as many touchdowns as incompletions, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin is being touted among the early contenders for the Heisman Trophy.
He'll try to bolster that campaign by leading the 17th-ranked Bears to their first 3-0 start in six years with another strong performance against visiting Rice on Saturday night.
During the first two games, Griffin has completed 41 of 49 throws for eight TDs and hasn't had a pass picked off since last November. The former track standout has also showcased his versatility by averaging 6.4 yards on his 18 rushes and making a key 15-yard reception in a season-opening upset of then-No. 14 TCU.
Following a 14-day break, Griffin showed little rust as he connected on 20 of 22 passes for 265 yards and three TDs while rushing for another 78 yards in a 48-0 win over Stephen F. Austin last Saturday. Due to inclement weather, that game was ended after three quarters, giving the Bears their first shutout since 1995 and first at home since 1985.
With Griffin at the helm, Baylor (2-0) ranks in the top 10 nationally with 49.0 points, 554.5 total yards and 346.5 passing yards per game. He also leads FBS in passing efficiency (244.52) and is third in total offense (370.0 yards per game).
"It's just being an experienced quarterback, knowing that you have to keep the chains moving and getting guys the ball is how you do that," Griffin said. "We've felt really good about the schemes we've had the last two weeks. I'm confident that we'll continue to game it up pretty good for the rest of the year."
The Bears had the right scheme against Rice last season when Griffin completed 20 of 28 passes for 268 yards and three TDs in a 30-13 victory, Baylor's fifth straight in the series.
"(Griffin) is one of the most exciting players I have ever watched in college football," Owls coach David Bailiff said. "He was exciting last season but he has really matured and is making great decisions with the football."
Rice (1-1), meanwhile, enters this matchup ranked 104th with 436.0 yards allowed per game but should be well-rested and confident.
Justin Allen's block of a 31-yard field goal attempt as time expired gave the Owls a dramatic 24-22 win over visiting Purdue on Sept. 10 and ended a 22-game losing streak to BCS schools.
After throwing for 79 yards in a season-opening loss at Texas, Taylor McHargue had a career-best 230 against the Boilermakers, and the second of his two touchdown passes put his team ahead for good.
"I'm excited. It does show that we are building. We're getting better and the kids believe," Bailiff said.
Baylor's Kendall Wright - already the school's all-time leader in receiving yards and receptions - will hold the school record for receiving touchdowns with his next one, which will be his 20th. He had seven receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown in last season's win over the Owls.
The senior, who has 20 receptions for 312 yards and three TDs in the first two games, is seeking to catch at least one pass in a 40th consecutive game.
"I'm proud of the way he's developed," coach Art Briles said. "Kendall is a guy that plays with an extreme amount of passion, and is a fierce competitor. That's why he's a great football player."
The Bears lead the series with their former Southwest Conference rivals 46-30-2.
Updated September 20, 2011