So, is Baylor just better at hiring coaches than anyone else in the college football or what? Art Briles awoke a Kansas-level doormat into back-to-back Big 12 champions in 2013-14. That era blew apart into a million pieces, and for a stretch of 2016-17 Baylor won twice in 20 games.
Two years after that, Baylor took Oklahoma to overtime of the Big 12 Championship.
Rhule left for the NFL, and in 2020 Baylor followed their 11-3 season with a 2-7 mark in Year 1 under Dave Aranda.
Now, the Bears are 8-2, a fringe top-10 team and in the thick of the Big 12 title hunt after ending Oklahoma's national-best 17-game winning streak.
A team that ranked fifth from the bottom in rushing offense a year ago ran all over the Sooners' top-20 rushing defense, producing 296 yards and two touchdowns on 6.3 a carry. Abram's Smith 75-yard burst to open the fourth quarter tripled the Bears' entire rushing output from the 2020 game. Two plays later, Baylor was up 17-7 and a defense that made Caleb Williams and Spencer Rattler feel uncomfortable was able to tee off on an overmatched OU offensive line.
Williams' dark-dark-horse Heisman campaign died in Waco. For the first time in his young career, Baylor made Williams look like a true freshman with precious little game experience, going 10-of-19 for 146 yards with two interceptions.
The 13-point margin of defeat is Oklahoma's largest in a Big 12 game in the 46-game Lincoln Riley era.
About that 13-point margin. Baylor students, not paying close attention to the details in their haste to get their party on, rushed the field with one seconds still on the clock. It took a while to get the students off the field, and in that while Riley sent his team to the locker room. Someone had to go fetch the OU defense to play the final play and, after Riley finished berating the officials, Dave Aranda decided to make his winning margin 27-14 rather than 24-14.
Riley said he did not agree with the move at all and thought it violated a "code of sportsmanship."
Oklahoma is not out of the CFP or Big 12 title races -- each of the four times the Sooners reached the Playoff, they did so with one loss -- but now a setback to Iowa State or Oklahoma State (both teams built similarly to these Bears) and Baylor would be headed back to Arlington for the second time in three seasons -- one year after removed from finishing ninth in the conference.
Oh, and there's a real possibility these teams meet again in three weeks.
Texas hits rock bottom. I just checked my calendar to confirm and, yes, it was still this same season that this same Texas team held second half leads over top-10 teams Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor.
A season that held such promise just one month ago is now a total, complete, unmitigated disaster for Steve Sarkisian's team. Kansas 57, Texas 56. That happened.
If there's one thing this Texas team does consistently, it's blow opportunities. Like when Texas tied the game at 14, then surrendered 21 unanswered points to close the first half. Like when they scored to open the second half, then surrendered a 4-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Like when they pulled within seven at 42-35, then went three-and-out and gave up a 73-yard touchdown drive. Like when they had the ball and all three timeouts, and quarterback Casey Thompson forced a throw on 2nd-and-8, which was intercepted.
And then in overtime, when a pass hit safety Brendan Schooler in the face mask and he dropped it. Kansas scored two plays later, then targeted Schooler again for the game-winning 2-point conversion.
Consider the following:
-- Kansas scored 61 points, total, in their previous six Big 12 games. They scored 57 against Texas.
-- Kansas forced five turnovers in their previous six Big 12 games. They forced four against Texas.
-- Kansas had the ball in the red zone seven times and scored seven touchdowns.
Kansas will become a respectable outfit in time under Lance Leipold, but now is not that time. Oklahoma State hammered them 55-3 two weeks ago.
The last time Texas lost to Kansas, it fired its head coach. The last time Texas lost five in a row, it fired its head coach. Steve Sarkisian has done both in his first season.
That's not going to happen here, but the remainder of this burning wreckage of a season is about Sark proving -- to the public, to his players, to recruits -- why he's the right man for this job. Remember, the public was not clamoring his name last winer. He was not at the top of any hot boards. The Texas search committee liked him, which is great and all, but his was not a nod toward the consent of the masses. (For the record, the Tom Herman hiring was.)
What, exactly, makes you qualified for this job beyond drawing up great plays for great players at Alabama? How does Pete Kwiatkowski return as defensive coordinator after giving up a season's worth of points to Kansas in one night?
It's hard to imagine things getting worse for Sark and Texas than Saturday night, but that doesn't mean they automatically get better from here.
Florida scored 70 points and no one was happy about it. Of all the FBS vs. FCS games since the divisional split in 1978, no FCS squad put up more points than Samford's 52 on Florida on Saturday.
Liam Welch looked like a Dan Mullen quarterback, except he played for the visitors -- 33-of-52 passing for 400 yards and three touchdowns (with one interception) plus 65 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Samford led 7-0, 14-7, 21-14, and at one point opened it up to 42-28 before eventually giving away in the second half.
Samford! An FCS team that was 4-5 entering the game.
"They’re an offensive football team, they score points and have some good players," Mullen said. "Calling a win disappointing is disrespectful to the game and our players. I really do."
It's safe to say Michigan's experiment has worked. Bringing back Jim Harbaugh with a reduced contract and a new, younger staff following last year's 2-4 disappointment was a risk, but it's paid off.
Going to Beaver Stadium and winning 21-17 means Michigan will likely be 10-1 -- they go to Maryland next week -- with at least a share of the Big Ten East title and a possible Playoff berth on the line when Ohio State comes to town in two weeks.
Whatever happens in that game, happens. If you want to judge Michigan solely by what occurs on the final Saturday in November I'm not going to stop you, but 127 programs will come up short far more often than not. If you want to judge Michigan by the measure you judge anywhere else, Jim Harbaugh has done an excellent job in 2021 and will deservedly return in 2022.
Ole Miss wins a clash of styles in Oxford. Lane Kiffin's team played at a breakneck pace to start the game, so fast you thought the Rebels might wear themselves out. They dominated the game and led only 13-0.
You knew Texas A&M was going to rally, and rally they did. In a game where they were out-gained 368-80 at one point, the Aggies had the ball with a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter.
That's as good as it got, though. The Ole Miss defense picked off Zach Calzada passes on consecutive drives, turning one into a 13-yard touchdown run and the other into a pick-six. That was the game, and Ole Miss won 29-19. Those picks, as well as a safety after a turnover on downs at the A&M goal line, provided Ole Miss's only points from the 9:34 mark of the second quarter. That's a team win right there.
With Vanderbilt and the Egg Bowl remaining, the Rebels will be favored to finish 10-2, in or near the Top 10, and with a great shot at a New Year's Six bowl.
The Super 16. This week's FWAA-NFF Super 16 poll ballot.
5. Ohio State
6. Michigan State
7. Notre Dame
8. Oklahoma State
11. Ole Miss
12. Wake Forest
Odds and Ends
a. A week after beating a severely depleted Cal, Arizona put up its best performance of the season. The Wildcats played likely Pac-12 South champion Utah to a 38-29 final. Zona blocked a punt for a touchdown to pull within 31-29 in the fourth quarter, but couldn't get Utah's offense off the field in their 14-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to ice the game. The Wildcats are the best 1-9 team in the country.
b. Huge win for Shawn Elliott and Georgia State, going on to the teal turf and pulling out a win. The Panthers stopped a 2-point try to secure the 42-40 victory, their first over an AP ranked team (Coastal was No. 22) in program history.
c. Georgia State's win means Appalachian State takes the Sun Belt East for the third time in four seasons with a win over Troy or Georgia Southern.
d. Mad respect to Texas Tech for holding off Iowa State. What a week in Lubbock, capped off by Jonathan Garibay's miracle 62-yard game-winner. I laughed when Sonny Cumbie tried this, and laughed at myself when it went in.
e. I didn't watch near enough to do this game justice, but No. 12 Wake Forest can clinch the ACC Coastal with a win at Clemson next week, thanks to their 45-42 shootout win over No. 16 NC State. The Deacons are averaging a cool 51 points a game over their last five outings.
f. Louisiana has won the Sun Belt West in all four years of the division's existence. They'll host the title game for the first time here in a few weeks.
g. From the "College Football Makes No Sense" file. Baylor loses to TCU, beats Oklahoma. TCU beats Baylor, loses to Oklahoma State 63-17.
h. Iowa has beaten Minnesota nine straight times in Iowa City and seven straight overall after the No. 20 Hawkeyes outlasted the Gophers, 27-22.
i. I feel bad for Auburn fans who root for the Falcons. The Tigers blew a 28-3 lead to Mississippi State, losing 43-34.
j. Mississippi State's drive chart after falling behind by 25: touchdown, end of half, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, missed field goal. Mike Leach's team set a school record with a 20-point comeback against Louisiana Tech to open this season, then broke that record on Saturday.
k. Wonderful tweet here from San Jose State. The Other Blake Anderson rolled over the Spartans to move to 8-2.
l. We've got a massive game in Conference USA next week when defending champ UAB goes to No. 23 UTSA. The Blazers went to Marshall and won a 2020 C-USA title game rematch, 21-14.
m. Southern Miss had to go to the full-time Wildcat due to a lack of options at quarterback, and it almost worked. Frank Gore, Jr., ran 20 times for 123 yards and a touchdown -- and completed 2-of-3 passes for 33 yards, leading the Golden Eagles in passing and rushing yards. The 1-9 Eagles were tied with the 10-0 Roadrunners 17-17 entering the fourth before losing 27-17.
n. Mike Norvell earned his biggest win at Florida State, winning 31-28. The victory snaps a 4-game losing streak in the series for the Seminoles and keeps them alive for a bowl game. They'll need to win at Boston College and Florida to get there, but they're still in the hunt.
o. Arizona State trailed Washington 24-14 and came back to win, 35-30. The clinching score came on this pick-six with 32 seconds left to put the Devils up 35-24.
p. No. 22 San Diego State moved to the doorstep of the Mountain West Championship by holding off Nevada, 23-21. Punt God Matt Araiza nailed a 35-yard field goal with 1:21 to win it.
q. Brandon tells the truth here. This is nuts.
What you didn't see was the play before this, South Dakota State tried to literally arm punt the final seven seconds on the clock. South Dakota State QB Chris Oladokun threw the ball as high and as far as he could, and the game was briefly over before officials put one second back on the clock. Then that happened.
r. A very nice win for Sam Pittman and No. 25 Arkansas, defeating LSU in Baton Rouge for the first time since 2015.
The flag football team I coach lost in our conference championship game, 14-12, when the time ran out on us with the ball at the 1-yard line. It was our first and only loss all season. Your condolences are appreciated in this difficult time for me and my family.
Seriously though, what a privilege it is to introduce this great game to a new generation.