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Blair Kerkhoff’s weekly conference call

Big 12

• RISING: Baylor’s numbers are starting to sound otherworldly. In a 73-42 crushing of West Virginia, the Bears rolled up a Big 12-record 864 total yards. The starting defense didn’t play badly. The Mountaineers didn’t score an offensive touchdown until Baylor had 42. Average score of the last two games between these teams: Baylor 67-56.

• FALLING: Kansas opened a 10-0 lead and scored the game’s final touchdown. In between, Texas Tech scored 54 points and went home 54-16 winners. The Jayhawks lost their 22nd straight Big 12 game.




So much for the advance billing of Missouri-Vanderbilt as evenly matched. The Tigers, 5-0, jumped to a 20-0 first-quarter lead and were never challenged in a 51-28 triumph. Mizzou, the top rushing team in the SEC, got it done on the ground (245 yards) and in the air as quarterback James Franklin threw four touchdown passes.



Oh, Pig. Tennessee running back Alton “Pig” Howard fumbled away the Vols’ first possession in overtime, throwing open the door to Georgia’s 34-31 victory on Marshall Morgan’s 42-yard, game-winning field goal. Tennessee, looking sharp in new “smoky gray” uniforms, played its best game of the season in nearly ending Georgia’s national championship hopes.

Atlantic Coast

• RISING: Wake Forest stood 2-3 with victories over Presbyterian and Army, but the scheduled turned in its favor with North Carolina State coming to town. The Wolfpack was favored by eight. but that didn’t matter. The Demon Deacons don’t lose this matchup at home. Wake made it six straight over N.C. State in Winston-Salem with a 28-13 triumph.

• FALLING: Thanks for playing, Maryland. Here are some consolation prizes: The Terps opened 4-0 and cracked the top 25 only to run into a buzz saw at Tallahassee. Florida State rolled 63-0 as freshman quarterback Jameis Winston built his Heisman credentials as the expense of a Maryland defense that had been pretty salty entering the weekend.

Big Ten

• RISING: Don’t let the 10-point margin fool you. Ohio State’s 40-30 victory at Northwestern was a survival. Buckeyes running back Carlos Hyde was terrific with 168 yards and three touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter that restored leads. Did the officials get the spot right on the Wildcats’ late possession that wound up short of a first down?

• FALLING: A rough day for Penn State. The Nittany Lions’ 16-game winning streak over Indiana ended with a thud as the Hoosiers prevailed 44-24. Penn State trailed only 21-17 entering the fourth quarter, but Indiana scored three touchdowns in fewer than 4 minutes and won their first conference opener since 2000.


• RISING: Washington State posted its highest scoring conference game in 10 years in a 44-22 thumping of California. Connor Halliday threw for 521 yards and three touchdowns for the Cougars, who beat the Bears for the first time since 2002.

• FALLING: Washington amassed 30 first downs to Stanford’s 14 but never led in a 31-28 loss. The Huskies’ upset hopes died when a Keith Price fourth-down pass to Kevin Smith with 1:16 remaining was ruled incomplete at the Cardinal 35 after a press-box review. Price passed for 350 yards, and Bishop Sankey rushed for 125, but it wasn’t enough to derail Stanford.

American Athletic

• RISING: Rutgers’ opening statement in its lone year in the AAC was a memorable one, a 55-52 triumph at SMU in triple overtime. Not much defense here, until the third overtime when the Scarlet Knights held SMU to a field goal. Rutgers answered with Justin Goodwin’s 17-yard touchdown run for the game-winner.

• FALLING: Cincinnati make sure South Florida wouldn’t go winless. The Bearcats tumbled 26-20 in Tampa, capping a difficult week for the program. Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Ben Flick died in a one-vehicle car accident a week earlier after Cincinnati’s victory over Miami, Ohio. The team made hospital visits and attended the funeral while preparing for the game.


• RISING: Whew! North Dakota State, the top-ranked team in the Football Championship Subdivision, remained unbeaten. Barely. The Bison needed 14 consecutive points in the fourth quarter to top Northern Iowa 24-23 in a battle of Missouri Valley Conference heavyweights. Sam Ojuri scored the game-winner on a 19-yard run with 3 minutes to play.

• FALLING: Somebody was going to win, and somebody was going to stay winless. Florida International got a 27-yard field goal from Austin Taylor with 6:53 remaining and beat Southern Mississippi 24-23. The Golden Panthers had their first Conference USA victory, and the Golden Eagles lost their 17th straight game.