- Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon insists he had no bad intentions with his targeting hit against TCU. The Bears are excited to close out Floyd Casey Stadium.
- Going back to Clint Chelf has proven to be a gutsy move for Oklahoma State's coaches. Glenn Spencer praises the elite talent OU still has this season.
- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops calls the role of the spoiler the "lowest form of motivation" his team could have. Cornerback Aaron Colvin plans to play against OSU.
- Texas once again relishes its role as the underdog this week. An early-season players-only meeting helped change the Longhorns' season.
- What should Iowa State seek in its next offensive coordinator? ISU defensive lineman David Irving pleads not guilty to assault charges. Grant Rohach is the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week.
- Gary Patterson's postgame rant on Saturday went ignored by Art Briles.
- How will Dana Holgorsen go about fixing West Virginia this offseason?
- John Hubert answered the call for the Kansas State offense once again. The Wildcats seem likely to end up in the Holiday Bowl. KSU schedules UTEP for 2014.
- Kliff Kingsbury explains his fashion choices to Esquire. A look at some crazy stats from the Big 12 in week 14, including Ryan Erxleben's season-long run.
- Kansas landed a junior college offensive lineman on Monday as well as a pledge from his teammate, a fellow lineman.
Monday, I spent the afternoon on the phone trying to find out how bowls with Big 12 tie-ins might react to the final two regular-season games, and the different bowl scenarios that might ensue.
Here’s what that reporting revealed:
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1)
The Fiesta is pretty obvious and clear-cut. Oklahoma State goes if it wins Bedlam. If it doesn’t, the winner of Baylor-Texas goes.
Because the Fiesta has the last at-large selection this year, the Big 12 opponent would be Northern Illinois. However, if the Huskies were upset in the MAC title game, the opponent would then be AAC champ Central Florida, assuming the Knights take care of SMU this weekend.
Allstate Sugar Bowl (Jan. 2)
Assuming there were no upsets in the ACC or Big Ten title games, an 11-1 Baylor would be the highest-ranked at-large available.
Waiting there would be Alabama or the winner of the SEC championship game, if Missouri or Auburn doesn't make it into the national title game.
AT&T Cotton Bowl (Jan. 3)
This is where things get interesting.
If Oklahoma State and Northern Illinois win this weekend, the Cotton would take the winner of Baylor-Texas.
But if Oklahoma State lost Bedlam? The Cotton could actually lean toward the Cowboys. This might irk Sooners fans, but remember, bowls prefer not taking repeat teams, and Oklahoma played in the Cotton last year.
As for the SEC opponent, while most prognosticators are predicting LSU here, the Cotton could actually end up with Missouri or even South Carolina.
If Auburn wins the SEC (and South Carolina ends up in the Capital One Bowl) the Cotton would be inclined to take Missouri. But if Missouri wins the SEC (and Auburn went to the Capital One) the Cotton could jump at the chance of snagging the Gamecocks, who have never been to the Cotton.
One speculative footnote: would the possibility of pairing Bob Stoops against one of his mentors (Steve Spurrier) prompt the Cotton to revisit Oklahoma?
Valero Alamo Bowl (Dec. 30)
Win or lose Bedlam, all signs point toward the Sooners heading to San Antonio. Oklahoma has never been to the Alamo before, and the belief is that the bowl would not pass on the Sooners – especially considering the Alamo has had Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma State the last three years.
The only scenario where the Alamo might not take Oklahoma? The Bears lose a nail biter to Texas after the Sooners get blasted in Bedlam, like 2011. Maybe then the Alamo would think twice about taking Baylor.
The pairing most likely would be Oregon, which would constitute one of the more compelling bowl matchups either way.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Dec. 28)
The Buffalo Wild Wings is in a prime spot, because it’s likely to get one of the four teams in the top tier of the league.
The bowl will have to see what the Cotton does, but there’s a good chance the Buffalo Wild Wings ends up with Texas, which has only been to Phoenix for a bowl twice (the Fiesta in the 1996 and 2008 seasons).
This potentially would comprise another big-name matchup, with the Buffalo Wild Wings to decide between Michigan or Nebraska on the other side. If it’s Nebraska-Texas, the stadium could probably make a killing selling hate at the concession stands.
National University Holiday Bowl (Dec. 30)
The pick here will be Kansas State, provided the Big 12 doesn’t get two BCS bowl teams.
It is expected that the Holiday would pair the Wildcats with the loser of Stanford-Arizona State, unless for some reason the Alamo passed on Oregon, in which case the Holiday would grab the Ducks.
Texas Bowl (Dec. 27)
The Red Raiders are headed back to the Texas, assuming there's only one BCS berth for the league.
The Big Ten’s final bowl qualifier, Minnesota, would be the opponent, unless the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl loses its mind and passes on Michigan or Nebraska.
Baylor is a two-touchdown favorite over the Texas they’ll face this weekend in Waco. Say what you want about Vegas, but the line speaks to perception. And perception says these two teams couldn’t be more different.
Though they share I-35, the Bears and Longhorns took two completely opposite roads to get to this game, and yet they’re both 7-1 in the Big 12 and playing for the same goal on Saturday.
For Baylor, 2013 has been the dream season. The No. 9 Bears are 10-1 and chasing their first 11-win season in school history. They’ve won 14 of their last 15. They’ve been one of the great stories of the season.
They have the nation’s No. 1 scoring and total offense, the best QB in the Big 12 in Bryce Petty, a much-improved defense and a coach in Art Briles who’s now revered as one of the best coaches in college football.
“Our focus from day one was to win every game we play this year,” Briles said. “We haven't done it but we've been pretty close and we get another opportunity Saturday."
Texas, meanwhile, has survived the season from hell to reach 8-3 and a No. 25 BCS ranking.
By the time Big 12 play began, the Longhorns already had two losses and a new defensive coordinator. Instead of taking on nonconference cupcakes like Baylor did, Texas scheduled games at BYU and against Ole Miss and lost both. Four games in, they’d lost their quarterback and best linebacker, too.
“I thought we would be really good before the season started,” coach Mack Brown said. “Then the two weeks were just a collapse for us. Then, as we said, we were excited about starting over and challenged by it.”
They’ve won seven games since, including an upset of then-No. 12 Oklahoma, and kept fighting. Brown has survived a season filled with speculation he’ll be fired -- including chatter that Briles could take his job -- and led Texas further than anyone expected.
So here they are, same record in the Big 12. A share of the conference championship is on the line. By the time they kick off, an outright title and Fiesta Bowl trip could be on the table, too.
There are two obvious reasons why, when their paths converge this weekend, these two teams are playing the second-biggest game in the Big 12 on conference championship Saturday. Both lost to Oklahoma State, and both have injuries to blame.
Of course, as is the case with everything else, the narratives are different on that front. Baylor, with the exception of the OSU loss, kept rolling in November despite losing receiver Tevin Reese, running backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin, tackle Spencer Drango, linebacker Bryce Hager and several others. The rushing duo returned to play TCU, but for much of that game the Bears were without three starters in the secondary.
Meanwhile, Texas is right up there with Georgia and Florida among the most injury-ravaged teams in the country, at least when it comes to critical players.
Somehow Texas has found a way to scrap together wins without quarterback David Ash, running back Johnathan Gray, linebacker Jordan Hicks, defensive tackle Chris Whaley and tackle Josh Cochran, and a few more starters have missed games. Now linebacker Steve Edmond is out too.
The laundry list of ailing players has these two teams in similar shape this week. Texas has obvious weaknesses. Baylor no longer looks invincible.
And Oklahoma State made both look bad, with relatively similar beatdowns on back-to-back weeks. That’s why the Cowboys control their own destiny entering Bedlam, and why Texas and Baylor will be watching the scoreboard all the way up to 2:30 p.m. CT.
By then, Briles and Brown will know where things stand in the Big 12. Then comes the real fun: finding out just how far apart their programs stand.
It will be interesting to see how conference strength factors into Sunday's bowl announcements, and whether the Big 12 will be able to get a second team in the BCS.
Safety Orion Stewart, Baylor: As the injury bug hit the Bears defense, Stewart has stepped up during his redshirt freshman season. He quietly led Baylor with eight tackles and added an 82-yard interception return for a touchdown in his team’s 41-38 win over TCU. He’s an example of the improved depth and playmaking ability the Bears have recruited to the program. His 12-tackle outing against Oklahoma State gives him 20 total tackles in Baylor’s last two games.
Linebacker Michael Reynolds, Kansas: The Jayhawks junior linebacker was very solid in KU’s 31-10 loss to Kansas State. Reynolds finished with six tackles including 3.5 tackles for loss and one sack. It was the third time in the last six games he has recorded at least five tackles.
Safety Jacques Washington, Iowa State: The senior was outstanding in his final game as a Cyclone. He led the squad with eight tackles, including six solo stops, along with two interceptions, one fumble recovery and one tackle for loss. Washington’s fourth quarter interception helped ISU tie the game at 38 and send it into overtime in the Cyclones’ 52-44 win.
Cornerback Duke Thomas, Texas: Overlooked as Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed combined to record six sacks, Thomas finished with six tackles including two tackles for loss, one sack and one interception. The sophomore was constantly around the ball in the Longhorns’ 41-16 win over Texas Tech on Thanksgiving night. His speed and athleticism should be an asset on UT’s defense for the next two seasons.
Running back B.J. Catalon, TCU: The sophomore was one of the Horned Frogs' most explosive playmakers this season and ended the year with 163 all-purpose yards in his team’s 41-38 loss to Baylor. Catalon had 11 carries for 93 yards, averaging 8.5 yards per carry, but he did have a fumble. Nonetheless, he’s a solid piece for TCU’s offense to build upon in 2014.
Quarterback Michael Brewer, Texas Tech: Brewer saw limited action in mop-up duty during the Red Raiders’ 41-16 loss to Texas. Yet he provided some hope for the future by completing 7 of 8 passes for 65 yards and one touchdown. He was expected to be TTU’s starter before a back injury derailed his season, but his performance in the fourth quarter showed the Red Raiders could have three quality options at the quarterback position heading into their bowl game and the 2014 season, raising the overall competition at the position, which is never a bad thing.
Safety Jeremy Tyler, West Virginia: The performance of the true freshman should be a bright spot for Mountaineers fans after watching their squad squander a 38-21 fourth-quarter lead against Iowa State. Tyler had 10 tackles, including seven solo stops, along with 2.5 tackles for loss and one forced fumble in WVU’s 52-44 overtime loss. He entered the game with seven tackles in the first 11 games.
- A breakdown of the stats and trends between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Trevor Knight has found a sounding board in his brother, an OU tight end.
- Baylor's offense has taken a detour in recent weeks, writes John Werner of the Waco Tribune. Offense gets a C- in grading out the win over TCU.
- Texas still appears to be in the picture for three bowl games going into its showdown with Baylor. Texas A&M is still ranked ahead of the Longhorns in the Dallas Morning News' latest Best in Texas poll.
- Kliff Kingsbury is not stressed by how he's handling his trio of quarterbacks entering the bowl game. Despite the defense's struggles in the loss to Texas, Will Smith was all over the place.
- Signs that TCU would struggle in 2013 became evident in August, Stefan Stevenson writes in his review of the Horned Frogs' rough season.
- In case you missed it, Iowa State fired two assistant coaches on Sunday. Paul Rhoads has a plan to get ISU back to a bowl in 2014.
- Kansas coach Charlie Weis is ready to move on and shift his focus to a senior-heavy 2014 team. Offensive line coach Tim Grunhard's tenure with KU is now over.
- Dana Holgorsen says 2014 started on Sunday and West Virgnia's recruiting needs to get better. The loss to Iowa State was a microcosm of the Mountaineers' season.
- Bill Synder says Kansas State needed to use QB Daniel Sams more against Kansas.
Team of the week: After trailing by three scores for most of the game, Iowa State came roaring back with 17 straight points in the fourth quarter and ultimately prevailed 52-44 in a stunning, triple-overtime comeback. Freshman QB Grant Rohach was terrific in his second career road start, accounting for five touchdowns, including the winning toss on the first play of the third overtime. The defense forced four turnovers to help spearhead the rally. And punter Kirby Van Der Kamp converted a fake punt into a huge first down, igniting the comeback early in the fourth quarter. As a result, Iowa State finished off an otherwise disappointing season with a thrilling road victory and a two-game winning streak to build on for 2014.
Big (offensive) men on campus: Kansas State running back John Hubert and Iowa State wide receivers Quenton Bundrage and Justin Coleman.
Hubert unleashed a monster performance in his final Sunflower Showdown. The senior rushed for a career-high 220 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries, as K-State defeated Kansas 31-10 for a fifth consecutive victory in the series.
Together with Rohach, Bundrage and Coleman fueled Iowa State's comeback with huge catches down the stretch. After Van Der Kamp's fake punt conversion, Bundrage hauled in a 62-yard touchdown grab to cut West Virginia's lead to 10. Later, Coleman's 19-yard scoring reception tied the game with a minute left in regulation. And on the first play of the third overtime, Coleman reeled in another touchdown, which proved to be the game winner.
All told, Bundrage and Coleman combined for 12 receptions, 184 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Big (defensive) men on campus: Baylor linebacker Eddie Lackey, TCU cornerback Jason Verrett and Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat.
Lackey played a hand in two turnovers that ultimately led to defensive touchdowns. With the Horned Frogs driving at the end of the second quarter with a chance to take the lead before halftime, Lackey charged up the middle and tagged TCU QB Casey Pachall's legs. The hit forced Pachall's pass to be behind his intended receiver, and Orion Stewart intercepted it and raced 82 yards for a touchdown. Then on TCU's first possession of the third quarter, Lackey picked off Pachall and dashed 54 yards for another score, putting the Bears up 34-17. Lackey added six tackles and a sack in Baylor's 41-38 win.
As good as Lackey was, no player was more dominant than Verrett. Matched up one-on-one with Baylor's Antwan Goodley the entire game, Verrett checked the Big 12's leading receiver to just one reception for 12 yards. As a result, Baylor finished with a season-low 206 passing yards.
Jeffcoat also flourished in his final home game, recording a game-high three sacks as Texas shut down Texas Tech's passing game. Jeffcoat also had seven tackles and a quarterback hurry, solidifying his candidacy as an All-Big 12 defensive end.
Special-teams player of the week: Tech punter Ryan Erxleben produced one of the special-teams plays of the year in the Big 12 in Austin. On Tech's second possession, Erxleben took off on a fake punt and raced 51 yards down the sideline for a touchdown, giving the Red Raiders an early 7-0 lead. After the game, coach Kliff Kingsbury confirmed Erxleben called the fake on his own. It proved to be Tech's longest rush of the season, but pretty much its only highlight in the lackluster loss to the Longhorns.
Play of the week: After falling behind 34-17 on two Baylor defensive touchdowns, TCU made a furious rally and drove into field goal range with a chance to either win or send the game to overtime. Instead, with 18 seconds to go, quarterback Pachall's pass to Brandon Carter was tipped away by Baylor nickelback Sam Holl and into the arms of Terrell Burt for the game-clinching interception to seal Baylor's victory.
Stat of the week: By holding Baylor to 370 yards of offense, TCU snapped the Bears' 37-game streak of at least 400 yards of offense. Ball State now holds the longest FBS streak at 12 games.
Quote of the week: "Gary Patterson lives in Fort Worth. If he's got a problem with me, that's where I live."
-- TCU coach Gary Patterson, after a pair of heated exchanges with Baylor coach Art Briles
Mayfield had seen enough film to know who Jackson Jeffcoat was. He didn’t see any film of Jeffcoat darting around the field as a linebacker. There was no film of Jeffcoat attacking up the middle as a stand-up pass rusher.
“They just didn’t know what to do,” Jeffcoat said.
Before their 41-16 victory over Texas Tech, the Longhorns had never run what defensive coordinator Greg Robinson calls his “Spinner" package. The key chess piece in that scheme was Jeffcoat, who played a hybrid end/linebacker role and did a little bit of everything.
It’s the kind of role that the son of a defensive line coach can get behind. Teammates say Jeffcoat called his new hybrid job the “Viper” position, and by all accounts, Robinson installed the scheme during Texas’ recent bye week.
In his first game at “Spinner,” Jeffcoat made a career-high three sacks and seven tackles. Not bad for a guy who was battling flu-like symptoms last week and even missed practice Tuesday.
Needless to say, Kliff Kingsbury and his staff didn’t see Jeffcoat’s new role coming. Neither did the Red Raiders’ offensive linemen.
“No, that's something they had for tonight, which is smart,” Kingsbury said. “It's just smart.”
Jeffcoat's new role is not new in a Robinson defense. He used “Spinner” as the defensive coordinator of the New York Jets, Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. He used “Spinner” at Michigan and Syracuse. Robinson even broke out the scheme in 2004, while co-running Texas’ defense, including against Texas Tech.
Said Robinson in 2005, his first year as head coach at Syracuse: “At Texas last year, I really didn’t have a guy who [could be effective in it] … we used it a little bit because it was good against certain teams."
This time around at Texas, Robinson has a guy in Jeffcoat who, at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, looks the part. He played more than 60 snaps against Tech, and on no more than 16 plays did he line up as a defensive end. He rushed from his “Spinner” role on 23 plays, imitated a linebacker nearly a dozen times and dropped back into coverage a dozen more times.
“I think that’s something he thrived off of,” Texas tackle Donald Hawkins said. “Use your best player the best way you can.”
His new role was just what Texas needed. With Jeffcoat at “Spinner,” Robinson could highlight the Longhorns’ surplus of six defensive ends and compensate for having just two experienced defensive tackles. The three-man front that Jeffcoat lined up behind typically comprised of ends Cedric Reed and Reggie Wilson, with Malcom Brown at nose guard.
Texas’ defensive line produced eight sacks, 10 tackles for loss and nine quarterback hurries.
“I think they came out and really confused us,” Texas Tech lineman Jared Kaster said.
Reed, who recorded two sacks, added this: “Our defensive slogan is ‘QB breakers.’ We knew that if we put pressure on the freshman quarterback, he would lose his flow sometimes.”
Mayfield was benched after throwing for 237 yards and no scores on 44 attempts. He was sacked seven times and had to tuck and run nine times, usually because of pressure.
Texas’ linebackers needed the help, too. Steve Edmond was lost for the season with a lacerated liver in the second quarter. Kendall Thompson exited with a head injury. That left Robinson with Dalton Santos and Peter Jinkens, who also tried playing “Spinner” in the fourth quarter.
Will those depth issues necessitate more “Spinner” packages for Texas going forward?
“That’s just a thing we put in for this game. Who knows if we run it next week?” cornerback Carrington Byndom said. “But it is really useful.”
Byndom believes the scheme works best when going against passing offenses, and Texas expected the Red Raiders to pass 90 percent of the time. That won’t be the case against Baylor on Saturday.
Texas Tech’s running backs combined for eight carries Thursday. Baylor averages 48 rushes per game, and injured backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin have returned.
Jeffcoat was the centerpiece of Robinson’s grand plan for stopping Texas Tech. Next up is the Longhorns defense’s biggest test yet. There's no better time than now for everything Robinson has in his playbook.
“Any kind of advantage we can get, we’re trying to take it,” Byndom said.
1. Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1 Big 12, last week 1): The Cowboys have a chance to state their case as the Big 12’s top program of the last five seasons. Beating Oklahoma to win a second Big 12 title in three years would convey a very compelling argument.
2. Baylor (10-1, 7-1 Big 12, LW 2): Baylor’s two worst offensive outputs have come in the last two weeks. Is America’s top offense running on fumes? The friendly confines of Floyd Casey Stadium -- for one final game -- should give QB Bryce Petty & Co. the refueling they need.
3. Texas (8-3, 7-1 Big 12, LW 3): For all their issues and injuries, the Longhorns remain in the mix for an outright Big 12 title and automatic BCS bowl berth heading into this final week of the season. Ironically, if Texas somehow upset Baylor, this would actually be one of Mack Brown’s better coaching performances.
4. Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2 Big 12, LW 4): Nobody before the season predicted these Sooners, with a young defense and a new quarterback, would contend for a national championship. A victory at Oklahoma State and another 10-win season would make this a solid season in Norman.
5. Kansas State (7-5, 5-4 Big 12, LW 5): Even after a 2-4 start, Kansas State still managed to finish ahead of where it was picked in the preseason for a third straight season. Going forward, the media should automatically bump K-State up two spots when filling out Big 12 preseason ballots, to account for the “Bill Snyder effect.”
6. Texas Tech (7-5, 4-5 Big 12, LW 6): After another November slide, the Red Raiders are likely headed back to the Texas Bowl for the second straight season. Tech has had several memorable moments in Kliff Kingsbury’s first season. The 41-16 loss at Texas was not one of them.
7. TCU (4-8, 2-7 Big 12, LW 8): In their final game, the Horned Frogs finally showed what could have been this season. While the TCU defensive backs locked up Baylor’s receivers, senior QB Casey Pachall looked the sharpest he had in two years, even with the two pick-six interceptions. Take away those two plays and the fumble at the TCU 1-yard line, and the Frogs might have won this game going away. Yes, TCU finished with its worst season since going 1-10 in 1997. But if defensive end Devonte Fields can return to his freshman form, and TCU can figure out the answer at QB, the Frogs could be a force next year.
8. Iowa State (3-9, 2-7 Big 12, LW 9): Coach Paul Rhoads proved those who have wanted him out to be ridiculous. Despite all the tough losses, the Cyclones never quit on their coach, even when down 17 points in the fourth quarter on the road in Morgantown. With a little bit of luck, especially around the goal line, the Cyclones have the pieces to return to a bowl next year.
9. Kansas (3-9, 1-8 Big 12, LW 10): Hey, at least they beat West Virginia.
10. West Virginia (4-8, 2-7 Big 12, LW 7): The Mountaineers capped off another depressing season with an epic fourth-quarter collapse. Good thing no one was there to see it. Well, almost no one. Saturday featured the third-smallest crowd in Milan Puskar Stadium’s 33-year history, and the smallest since 1992.
And not just because the Bears reached the 10-win mark for only the third time in school history with their 41-38 victory over TCU on Saturday.
Although the Bears remained at No. 9 in the latest BCS standings, their BCS bowl hopes got a boost with losses by Wisconsin, Clemson and Fresno State. Those teams were putting themselves in position to bump the Bears out of the conversation for an at-large BCS bid before stumbling over the weekend. Now the Sugar Bowl could choose the Bears for an at-large berth.
If the Bears can knock off No. 25 Texas to finish 11-1, the Big 12 could get a second BCS berth alongside No. 6 Oklahoma State, assuming the Cowboys win against No. 17 Oklahoma on Saturday. No. 14 Northern Illinois is playing the role of the main BCS-buster to earn an at-large bid this season and will face Bowling Green in the MAC championship game on Friday.
Oklahoma State, which moved up one spot to No. 6, watched its very slim hopes of finding its way into the BCS title game drift further away when Alabama lost to Auburn. The Crimson Tide dropped from No. 1 to No. 4, meaning it won't matter how much chaos occurs on Championship Saturday because the Pokes are pretty much out of the race to earn a BCS title game berth. Quite simply, nothing has changed for the Cowboys this week, as their loss to West Virginia, which finished 4-8, remains an anchor preventing them from climbing into the conversation of the nation's top one-loss teams.
But it was a good weekend for the Big 12 overall, and Baylor in particular, with the Bears’ at-large BCS chances looking brighter than ever. Now, it’s up to Art Briles’ crew to help make its dreams come true by winning impressively against the Longhorns.
Here are our Week 14 bowl projections for the Big 12:
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1): Oklahoma State vs. BCS at-large
AT&T Cotton Bowl (Jan. 3): Baylor vs. SEC No. 3/4
Valero Alamo Bowl (Dec. 30): Oklahoma vs. Pac-12 No. 2
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Dec. 28): Texas vs. Big Ten No. 4/5
National University Holiday Bowl (Dec. 30): Kansas State vs. Pac-12 No. 3
Texas Bowl (Dec. 27): Texas Tech vs. Big Ten No. 6
New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 28): None available vs. American No. 4
Heart of Dallas Bowl (Jan. 1): None available vs. Big Ten No. 7
No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Ohio State have taken over the top spots in the BCS standings with just one week to go before the final pairing for the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game is announced.
The Seminoles and Buckeyes are the only two remaining undefeated teams from the automatic qualifying conferences and have the inside track to play for the title.
Auburn moved up to No. 3 by winning the Iron Bowl, while Alabama dropped to No. 4, barely ahead of No. 5 Missouri.
Auburn will play Missouri on Saturday in the SEC Championship Game, but both teams will likely need either Florida State or Ohio State to lose in order to move into the top two.
Florida State is ranked first in both polls used by the BCS and is also first in the computer ratings. The Seminoles need only beat No. 20 Duke in the ACC Championship Game to remain at the top of the standings.
Ohio State needed to stop Michigan on a two-point conversion in the final minute to stay unbeaten, but the Buckeyes' ugly win doesn't seem to have hurt them too badly. They are second in both polls as well as the computers.
1. Patterson has no love for Baylor: While the Baylor players were talking about getting an emotional win for coach Art Briles, who lost his brother earlier in the week, TCU coach Gary Patterson was railing on Baylor; specifically, Briles and Bears safety Ahmad Dixon, who was ejected after targeting TCU's Trevone Boykin. Said Patterson, among many other things, referring to Briles and Dixon: "If that's what class is, I don't want to be it." This old Southwest Conference rivalry just got kicked up another notch.
3. Baylor only barely still alive for a BCS at-large bowl: With Wisconsin falling to Penn State and Clemson losing at South Carolina, the door cracked a little wider for Baylor to sneak into a BCS bowl game, even if Oklahoma State wins next weekend. But only just a little. Assuming the Orange Bowl sticks with its ACC ties and takes Clemson, as expected, there's really only one scenario that gets Baylor an at-large. That would entail Bowling Green knocking off Northern Illinois in the MAC championship game. If that happened, AAC champion Central Florida likely would end up in the Fiesta, freeing up the Sugar to take Baylor.
4. League in line for some intriguing bowl matchups: Even if it fails to get a second BCS bowl team, the Big 12 could be in for some compelling non-BCS bowl games. Here are some possibilities: Baylor-LSU in the AT&T Cotton; OU-Oregon in the Valero Alamo; Texas-Nebraska in the Buffalo Wild Wings; K-State-Stanford in the National University Holiday; and Tech-Michigan in the Heart of Dallas. I could get on board with all five of those matchups.
5. Big 12 newcomers end second seasons very differently: TCU and West Virginia finished their seasons with losses. But both finished in very different ways. The Horned Frogs overcame three crushing turnovers (two pick-sixes and a fumble at their own 1) to take ninth-ranked Baylor to the wire. The Mountaineers blew a 17-point, fourth-quarter lead before falling to Iowa State in triple overtime. Without West Virginia, the Cyclones would have ended their season with just one conference win, and Kansas would have ended the year without one, as the Mountaineers lost to both to close out the year. Neither TCU nor West Virginia will be going bowling in their second seasons in the Big 12. But Patterson will be feeling a lot better about the way his team finished out the season than West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen will about his.
Baylor Bears defense: Yes, Baylor gave up 38 points against a TCU team that finished 4-8. But the Bears wouldn’t have won this game without four critical takeaways from its opportunistic defense. Two were interceptions for touchdowns by Orion Stewart and Eddie Lackey. Another was a goal-line fumble recovery to set up a 1-yard touchdown. So that’s 21 points. Terrell Burt clinched the win when he picked off a deflected pass in the final minute.
QB Grant Rohach, Iowa State: What a memorable way for Rohach to end his redshirt freshman campaign. In a three-overtime, 52-44 victory at West Virginia, he threw for a career-high 331 yards and four touchdowns, added a 54-yard touchdown run and led a gigantic comeback from down 31-7. Not bad at all for Rohach’s third career start.
DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas: The Longhorns got creative in their use of Jeffcoat in a 41-16 win against Texas Tech, lining him up as a linebacker/end hybrid. That move paid off big on his senior night. Jeffcoat racked up three sacks and seven tackles and was flat-out unblockable at times, making a tough night for Tech QB Baker Mayfield even tougher. Jeffcoat now has 10 sacks on the year, all of them coming in Big 12 play.
RB John Hubert and S Dante Barnett, Kansas State: Barnett grabbed two interceptions and recovered a fumble in Kansas State’s 31-10 win over Kansas, while Hubert paced the Wildcats offense by rushing for a for career-high 220 yards in his final Big 12 game. K-State looks destined to end up at the Holiday Bowl, which is certainly an impressive feat after starting the season 2-4.
RB Charles Sims, West Virginia: Lots of others who merit helmet stickers this week, but we’ll honor Sims after another big game to end his college career. Sims rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns against ISU and finished with 1,095 yards and 11 TDs in his only season in Morgantown. He’ll receive some All-Big 12 honors this month.