By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer
Finding the gems among college football, That is our task as we break through week eight of the season. Hopefully, that will start to get easier soon.
What’s Bigger: A Bear or a Longhorn?
Baylor is on top of all Texas teams in the AP and Coaches polls. The Bears are No. 14 after a slaughter of Oklahoma State, while UT falls to No. 15 after a floppy win against Kansas Saturday.
Charlie Brewer is a man amongst boys. Also, I was wrong about JaMycal Hasty being a true running back. He has been by far the best back over the past few weeks, with some helpful change of pace running by John Lovett as well. For the first time this season, Baylor’s offense looked like a Big 12-level offense. They had explosive plays and consistent success, things fans haven’t seen in a full season since the firing of former head coach Art Briles.
Unlike those years, the key to success for the Bears comes from the defense. And if you thought it would take a hit after middle linebacker Clay Johnston went down with an injury, Terrell Bernard wants to insert his name into the discussion. Maybe Baylor’s defensive scheme is just that good, or maybe it’s the next-man-up style of a Matt Rhule team, but either way the success will be here to stay.
Down I-35, there is a different story brewing. The University of Texas is flailing. The Longhorns beat Kansas on a buzzer-beating field goal 50-48, but all that did was hold them at No. 15 in both polls. Their lack of success this year against LSU and Oklahoma has doomed them to finish in a bowl game rather than a playoff matchup, and that lack of potential notoriety down the road may be hindering their success today.
Thus, Baylor is ranked above UT. Now, there is almost no way the Bears would be favored in their Nov. 23 matchup, but the prospect is at least intriguing as the game will most likely decide who finishes second in the Big 12 and play in a rematch against Oklahoma in the conference championship game.
Utter Heartbreak in Urbana-Champaign
In the upset of the week, Wisconsin fell to the Fighting Illini 24-23 Saturday, falling from the ranks of the unbeaten. Previously ranked No. 6, the Badgers fall to No. 13 after their first loss of the season.
Before the loss, Wisconsin could have reasonably vied for the top spot in the Big 10, but now they face a ranking in the teens and a dim hope for a playoff berth. Jonathan Taylor continued his Heisman-esque run with 132 yards and a touchdown, but the Badgers weren’t able to put together clean football on either side of the ball.
That doesn’t bode well for them going forward, especially with a road matchup against No. 3 Ohio State on the docket this week. The Buckeyes and quarterback Justin Fields have led an impressive post-Urban Meyer renaissance, and their first big test of the season lies in this matchup with Wisconsin as well.
Boise State Bounced by BYU
After UCF took their first loss, Boise State was the final hope for Circle Five conferences, but that has since drifted away along with their undefeated season. And without their chance at a ranked matchup this year, there’s very little chance for them to pass up SMU or Appalachian State without either of those schools suffering losses.
Bronco quarterback Chase Cord threw two interceptions Saturday, throwing sloppiness into a previously unblemished season. Overall, it was just a poor showing by Boise State, after having a lead through the half and giving up three touchdowns to a bad Brigham Young team in the third quarter. Boise did their best to jump back in, but they were only able to muster 15 points in the final frame.
The dreams of a Circle Five school making it to playoff once again pass on to the next year. The Broncos fall to No. 22 in the most recent AP poll, and with SMU being the highest ranked Circle Five school at No. 16, the dominant lower-level school we’ve seen in Houston and UCF in past years just hasn’t come to pass this season.