Baylor’s second wind is unlike anyone else at the FBS level.
The pre-game sail-gating scene on the Brazos River that Baylor's pristine new 50,000-seat football cathedral overlook has become one of the most unique traditions in all of college football.
However, the energy permeating throughout $238 million McLane Stadium appeared to dissipate as the home squad’s national title aspirations slipped into a coma. It was evident that this would be different than Baylor’s first five routs of the season when TCU matriculated the ball 67 yards in eight plays on their first drive. Baylor traversed the choppy waters of playing for behind for approximately 54 minutes on Saturday afternoon after never trailing in the first five games of its season.
With 11:38 to go in the fourth quarter against TCU, the Bears were doubled over, clutching their guts after Marcus Mallett pick sixed Bryce Petty to give them a 21-point cushion.
Baylor trailed from the get go, but it appeared that for all their offensive muscle, their defense’s lack of endurance was set to doom them in this three-game marathon.
That’s when Baylor turned on the afterburners and scorched TCU like coal on the grill.
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) October 12, 2014
TCU managed to hang a near 60-burger on Baylor, but that was all for not when Baylor chowed down the Horned Frogs defense to
the tune of 61 points.
It was a bizarre display from a TCU unit that is often touted as one of the nation’s stingiest defenses. Maybe it was the holiday spirit, but in consecutive weeks, TCU has put a top-five opponent in a headlock by engaging in a shootout. This time they were unable to deal a finishing blow despite a flury of opportunities.
However, the final score once again became a subplot to the postgame animosity between the two teams as Gary Patterson found himself in the middle of a near altercation with Baylor linebacker Orion Stewart. Chaces are there is a lingering resentment from Patterson’s diatribe against former Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon’s following his ejection for targeting on Trevone Boykins in their 2013 regular season finale.
The Border Rivalry has been played 110 times before, usually in the peripherals of the Red River Rivalry, but on Saturday it finally went national. The vitriol and passion between TCU and Baylor was evident from the go, fueling the next 60 exhilerating minutes of harrowing action.
Not only did Baylor march one step closer to a spot in the polls, inching closer to a playoff berth, they also stripped TCU of college football’s unofficial championship belt.
THE SEC WEST IS A MERCILESS JUNGLE
The SEC West has become a battlefield. The stench of decaying playoff resumes is enough to make nostril hairs fall out and make eyes water.
The SEC West is 26-0 against non-divisional foes. However, the friendly fire is whittling the field of playoff contenders down with each passing week
This week, the SEC West family mourns the Auburn Tigers.
War Eagle’s wings were clipped in a dominating display by the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Fresh Tiger blood stains the cleats of Dak Prescott and Josh Robinson who trudged up and down the field against Auburn's defense. Auburn does not control its own destiny, but they can forge an alternate path to the college football playoff. Or they could find themselves toiling in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. Over the next four weeks, Auburn hosts South Carolina, visits Ole Miss, welcomes Texas A&M, then hosts UGA..
The SEC could sneak a second team into the playoff field, but it would require them running through one of the most daunting second half slates in the nation without another nick on their schedule. Beating UGA would eliminate the SEC East from the equation, but a trip to Alabama awaits them at the conclusion of their journey.
The football Gods appeared to be riding for Auburn last season, but if they’re going to repeat in the SEC it’s going to take an immaculate performance from Nick Marshall down the stretch.
Everett Golson’s numbers lie more than Pitbull’s accountant. The Notre Dame quarterback remains a Heisman fave and has already surpassed his 2012 single season touchdown total, but his turnover problem kept UNC in business and in his last three games, Golson has committed eight turnovers. Although his skill level is far superior to what it was in 2012, his performance against UNC isn’t too enlightening.
The Tar Heels have given up 316 passing yards per game. That’s 125th out of 128 teams nationally. Heading into their duel at high noon with Jameis Winston, Notre Dame has to fill in the bullet holes left behind by Marquise Williams, who threw for 303 yards and rushed for an additional 132.
A KICK IN THE GROIN
For the second year in a row, Arizona beat Oregon before dropkicking themselves in the face against the unranked USC Trojans.
The Brotzman Award, given to the kicker who caps off a miracle comeback by shanking an easy attempt, putting the brakes on those undefeated season or slapping a roadblock on a team’s clear path to a conference title.
The Wildcats rallied from a 15 point deficit by scoring two straight touchdowns and recovering one final onside kick. Anu Solomon’s completed 43 out of 72 attempts for 395 yards, before putting Casey Skowron in position to play the hero.
Instead, Skowron badly shanked the 36-yard field goal kick wide 36 yards to the right.
The Pac-12 South is the second-most competitive divisions in the nation. The Pac-12 North race between Oregon and Stanford may feature more excellent teams, but USC, Arizona State, Utah, Arizona and UCLA make for a more compelling pentad.
Arizona is still in second place, but what will be most telling is how 'Zona responds to a crushing defeat. They've got two weeks off before they stroll into Wazzu to defend Mike Leach and the Cougars' 12-receiver sets and then kick off November with UCLA.
USC's path is much clearer. They essentially hold a 1.5 game lead over Arizona and after a Utah clash on Oct. 25, they square off with unranked Cal before their annual Pac-12 finale against their crosstown Bruins rivals.