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NATIONAL REPORT: Baylor’s BCS title hopes dashed by Oklahoma State

Charlie Moore Josh Stewart

Charlie Moore, Josh Stewart

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Updated: December 25, 2013 6:47AM

There will be No. 1 votes given to Baylor next preseason. Maybe a lot of them.

But the Bears are almost irrelevant in 2013. They’re yesterday’s news. One defeat — 49-17 at Oklahoma State — is all it takes to stuff a BCS championship push into a suitcase.

Next year, maybe.

This year? Thanks for playing.

No. 3 Baylor (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) was destroyed by the 11th-ranked Cowboys (10-1, 7-1) on Saturday night in Stillwater. The final score will be remembered for ages in Big 12 country. Around the rest of the country? It’s already all but forgotten.

The implications are huge. Alabama and Florida State — the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the BCS rankings — are still in line to meet for the national title. FSU freshman quarterback Jameis Winston is embroiled in a legal scandal, though, and the Seminoles might not be able to keep rolling if he’s pulled out of action.

Unbeaten Ohio State now sits in position to jump into the title game if either Alabama or Florida State loses. And a defeat certainly is possible in the case of the Crimson Tide, who play at 10-1 Auburn next weekend.

Speaking of Auburn: If the Tigers win the Iron Bowl, they’ll rocket up the BCS rankings and be no worse than No. 3. That would put extraordinary pressure on Ohio State to beat Michigan State in the Big Ten title game — assuming the Buckeyes have taken care of business on the last Saturday of November at Michigan, which is no sure bet.

Both Alabama and FSU have potential conference championship games to deal with, too.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma State fans rejoice. The Cowboys — whose program was accused in an early season Sports Illustrated report of myriad improprieties — merely have to beat Oklahoma next weekend in Stillwater to claim the Big 12 crown. SI’s report hasn’t led to any trouble for coach Mike Gundy and his team. The Sooners might be a different story, though Bedlam — the name by which this classic rivalry is known — is what Oklahoma State lives for.

It’s important to remember that the national championship isn’t the only title worth playing for. In the final season under the current BCS system before a four-team playoff kicks in next year, Oklahoma State still can equal its greatest season ever with that Big 12 crown and a victory in one of the four banner bowls. If the Cowboys fall to the Sooners before that, Baylor can revel in its own best season ever.

Ohio State — or Michigan State — will reach the Rose Bowl, at least. And that would be a very big deal all by itself.

Arizona State won at UCLA on Saturday night to clinch the Pac-12 South title, setting up a conference championship game against Stanford. Thank you, Arizona, for knocking off Oregon. The Rose Bowl still matters a whole bunch.

Next year, things will change. Getting into the playoff will feel like everything for all of these teams. But it won’t be everything. There will always be games like Baylor at Oklahoma State, when conference matters are straightened out regardless of larger implications.

Sometimes, a league title has to be enough.


Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona RB

Maybe we’re suckers for workhorse running backs, but seriously? This guy toted the rock an unbelievable 48 times for 206 yards and four touchdowns as the Wildcats pulled off a 42-16 mega-upset of No. 5 Oregon. Carey has had brushes with creepiness in the past, so we’ll keep the cheering down as we give him the Game Ball.


My top five if I were voting today:

1. QB Jameis Winston, Florida State. His team scored 80 against big, bad Idaho. He’s in a world of scandalous hurt. This vote might change.

2. QB Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois. Maybe he couldn’t lead an elite team to a national title, but what more can this guy do?

3. QB AJ McCarron, Alabama. He just sneaks up the list, this guy. Must be something about gunning for his third national championship as the Crimson Tide’s starter.

4. QB Derek Carr, Fresno State: If Lynch is on the list, Carr had better be, too. He tossed seven touchdown passes Saturday, that’s all.

5. QB Bryce Petty, Baylor. So the BCS title push is done. How about a Big 12 title? Or a BCS invite? This is Baylor, people.


Week: No. 19 Arizona State 38, No. 14 UCLA 33. There wasn’t a more dissed and disrespected coach than Todd Graham two years ago. He had bolted from Pittsburgh after one season, the same move he had pulled on Rice earlier in his career. But Graham called ASU a dream job, and now he has the Sun Devils in the Pac-12 title game. UCLA had seemed to be the best team in that division, but no more. ASU will face Stanford for the right to go to the Rose Bowl.

Weak: Georgia Southern 26, Florida 20. The Gators have lost a lot of games during the course of time — and won so, so many more of them — but this was the worst loss in school history. There can’t possibly have been a worse one. Now 4-7 and a loser of six consecutive games, Florida has guaranteed its first sub-.500 season since 1979. Coach Will Muschamp surely has his boxes ready to pack. And Georgia Southern, which has fallen this season to Wofford, Samford, Appalachian State and Furman, gets to celebrate forever.


Up: No. 13 Michigan State. The Spartans should move into the top 10, a fitting place for the leading defense in the country to reside.

Down: No. 5 Oregon. This sort of thing is going to happen when you get blown out for the first time in more than five years.

In: Notre Dame — maybe. The Irish were second among the others receiving votes last week. Their 23-13 victory against BYU looks pretty good.

Out: No. 24 Mississippi. Missouri ended the Rebels’ dream. The dream of being ranked at the end of the season, that is.


Johnny Manziel had the worst game of his career Saturday. In a 34-10 defeat at LSU, the most hyped player in college football since Tim Tebow completed only 16 of his 41 pass attempts, threw two interceptions and elicited neither an ‘‘ooooh’’ nor an ‘‘aaaah’’ from the crowd in Death Valley.

Texas A&M, considered a national-title contender in the preseason primarily because of Manziel’s Heisman exploits as a redshirt freshman, is now just another team in the big, bad SEC. Manziel’s hopes for a Heisman repeat officially are dashed. Yet many observers continue to expect Manziel to chuck the college fishbowl and dive headlong into the NFL draft pool in 2014.

Well, he shouldn’t. He’s nowhere near ready. He’s too small and way too much of a risk-taker. Easy for us to say, but Johnny Football needs a third act in College Station.


Twitter: @slgreenberg

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