Winners and Losers from Week 11 of College Football

Brad Shepard@@Brad_ShepardFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2021

Winners and Losers from Week 11 of College Football

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    Ray Carlin/Associated Press

    On a day when Oklahoma became the latest pretender to wilt under the pressure of college football's spotlight, others stood tall.

    The top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs dominated Tennessee in Neyland Stadium to continue their onslaught through the SEC. Alabama cake-walked through New Mexico State in a glorified bye week and looked every bit the part of the College Football Playoff's No. 2 team.

    Ohio State and Cincinnati did their part to stay at the top, as did Michigan (21-17 win over Penn State) and Michigan State (40-21 win over Maryland).

    Meanwhile, the nightmare continued for Texas, and former (and future) rival Texas A&M didn't fare any better against Ole Miss.

    We had a game-winning field goal that seemed like it was kicked from one side of Texas to the other, last year's Cinderella Group of Five program going down and Florida playing like it has totally quit on coach Dan Mullen.

    Here are the winners and losers from Week 11 of college football.

Winner: Michigan's Resounding, Season-Saving Drive

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    Barry Reeger/Associated Press

    This was the type of situation where Michigan rolled over in the past.

    After giving up a touchdown and two-point conversion to Penn State to tie the game at 14-all, the No. 6 Wolverines got the ball back deep in their own territory with all the momentum pointing toward the Nittany Lions and a raucous crowd screaming.

    When Cade McNamara fumbled after getting sacked by Arnold Ebiketie, leading to a Penn State go-ahead field goal, they got the ball back with a sudden-change whirlwind turned against them. Instead of folding, though, Jim Harbaugh's team answered the call.

    Playing without its best offensive playmaker (running back Blake Corum), the Wolverines answered the call in the rugged road game all day, and this was the biggest stage. They stormed 75 yards on six plays for a touchdown to take a 21-17 lead they wouldn't relinquish.

    Hassan Haskins was a star all day with Corum injured, and he got the drive started with a 17-yard jaunt up the middle. They handed him the ball four more times for 11 yards to get the football all the way out to the Penn State 47.

    That's when McNamara found tight end Erick All on a short crossing route on second-and-nine, and he turned on the afterburners, turned the corner and raced 47 yards for a touchdown and a season-defining win. It was McNamara's third scoring toss of the day.

    The Wolverines defense did the rest, allowing PSU to get just eight yards on its next four downs, allowing the offense to get the ball back and ride Haskins (31 carries for 156 yards) to run out the clock.

    For Harbaugh, his careers at his alma mater has been maligned by a lack of wins in big games. Though Penn State is reeling with losing four of its past five games, the magnitude of this win went beyond records and rankings. The Wolverines' playoff hopes are still alive with Ohio State looming.

Loser: Oklahoma's Championship Hopes Go Down in a Sea of Green

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    Ray Carlin/Associated Press

    For everybody who gripes about the College Football Playoff committee's disrespect of Cincinnati, Oklahoma received much less love.

    Saturday showed the committee were right when it comes to the Sooners.

    Coach Lincoln Riley's team entered Saturday's showdown with 13th-ranked Baylor ranked No. 8 in the CFP rankings, despite an undefeated record. The snub prompted former OU coach and current FOX analyst Bob Stoops to scoff.

    "When did losing not matter? I complained a week ago there were four teams ahead of OU, who is 9-0," Stoops told On3 Sports. "The longest win streak in America. I'll tell you what they thought of my opinion. They put another one-loss team ahead of OU.  So, now there are 5 one-loss teams ahead of OU. Give me a break."

    Ol' Big Game Bob had better get ready to get raked for Freezing Cold Takes. Baylor dominated the Sooners on both sides of the ball in a 27-14 thumping in Waco. Coach Lincoln Riley's team had few answers.

    It was worse than the final score, and Riley threw a tantrum when the Baylor fans rushed the field early. It was not a good look, and OU had its defense come back on the field for one final, meaningless play with fans set to storm the field. 

    Baylor controlled the game, taking Oklahoma out of the shootout it wanted by rushing for 296 yards and 24 first downs and controlling both lines of scrimmage. Had it not been for self-inflected turnover wounds, Baylor would have won by more. Gerry Bohanan was fantastic on the ground, and the Bears rolled.

    The Sooners, on the other hand, were ineffective on offense. Freshman phenom quarterback Caleb Williams (two interceptions) was pulled, and Spencer Rattler was equally off. Coach Dave Aranda's defense was the best unit on the field, and Oklahoma did not look anything like a playoff team.

Winner: Top-Ranked Georgia Rolling by a Big Test in Knoxville

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    In a battle of strength versus strength, Georgia continued to prove its strongest unit is indeed the nation's best.

    The Bulldogs' historically stingy defense came to Neyland Stadium on Saturday boasting some gaudy statistics, minuscule yardage allowed and point totals. Playing the up-tempo Vols scoring attack that had been sterling throughout the season was going to be a major test.

    UGA passed with flying colors.

    Despite battling a stomach bug that sidelined several players, coach Kirby Smart's elite defense looked the part of the top-ranked team. After Tennessee stormed down the field for a touchdown on the opening drive, Georgia clamped down.

    The Vols couldn't get any consistency on offense, and once quarterback Hendon Hooker threw a terrible second-quarter interception in his own territory to allow UGA a short field and a touchdown to take a seven-point lead, it's like the light came on for Georgia.

    They rumbled for a 41-17 lopsided win, and UT's feel-good season under coach Josh Heupel took a temporary hiatus back to reality. The Vols simply didn't have the depth or the recruits to hang with a Georgia team this talented.

    Linebacker Channing Tindall was all over the place, sacking Hooker three times in the second half as UGA built its lead. Yes, the Vols tacked on a meaningless touchdown late, but Georgia withstood the early onslaught from the Vols, rebounded and cruised to an easy victory.

    They look poised to continue their march to Atlanta to take on Alabama.

Loser: What's Left of the Dan Mullen Era in Gainesville

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    Florida wound up winning handily Saturday, 70-52. But the Gators may have lost the rest of their fan base with one of the shoddiest defensive performances of the year.

    It makes you wonder if coach Dan Mullen's hot seat just got turned up to broil.

    So, how did all that happen? The 4-5 Gators hosted Football Championship Subdivision foe Samford on Saturday. In case you didn't know, that's a small private school with a beautiful campus outside of Birmingham, Alabama. Their mascot is the Bulldogs, and they play in the Southern Conference.

    They were 4-5 also, but they looked like a top-25 FBS opponent against the Gators in the first half. Florida allowed 42 points to Samford and actually trailed 42-35 at halftime before waking up after the break. It was the most points UF has ever allowed in a half.

    Yeah, it was that bad. Maybe bad enough to pay Mullen's $12 million buyout.

    Explosive Bulldogs receiver Montrell Washington had three carries for 18 yards and a touchdown, three catches for 82 yards and took a kickoff back 98 yards for a touchdown—all before the break. Samford wound up with 530 yards of total offense. Thankfully for UF, it had 717 of its own in the comeback win.

    A week after firing defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, it's almost like Mullen didn't replace him. Interim DC Christian Robinson couldn't draw up anything to stop a Samford offense that was downright explosive.

    So, even though Florida didn't lose on the scoreboard Saturday, the Gators lost everywhere else. With Mullen's odd recruiting answer from last week, the brutal on-field product and now this, you have to wonder if there's now no length on the leash.

    There were times Saturday it looked like the Gators had quit on their coach. A second-half surge saved them, but for how long?

Winner: Ohio State's Underclassman Mega Stars

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    Entering the season, Ohio State's receiving corps was the envy of every team in the nation, led by Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave.

    After incredible consecutive weeks, second-year playmaker Jaxon Smith-Njigba has stolen the spotlight.

    He did it again Saturday, looking like the best pass-catcher on a field full of them with his teammates and Purdue star David Bell. Smith-Njigba caught nine passes for 139 yards and a score as the Buckeyes routed the Boilermakers 59-31 at the 'Shoe.

    There wouldn't be a trio of Purdue party-crashers for top-10 opponents this year. Coach Jeff Brohm's team already upset Iowa and Michigan State, knocking both from the ranks of the unbeaten and out of the top five. Ohio State would have nothing of it, thanks to Smith-Njigba and Co.

    He was far from alone, though.

    Quarterback C.J. Stroud continued his onslaught through the air, looking like a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate once again. He torched the Boilermakers for 361 yards and five touchdowns. He distributed the ball all over the field to six different receivers. 

    True freshman running back TreVeyon Henderson has taken college football by storm this year, and he was brilliant again Saturday with 98 yards and a pair of scores.

    Yeah, Wilson isn't bad, either. He had 126 yards and three touchdowns, letting the youngsters know he's still around, too. He became the first player in Ohio State history to have three receiving scores and a rushing TD in the same game.

    Ohio State's defense wasn't great again, but the offense has so many weapons it covers the warts. Right now, nobody in the Big Ten should want a piece of the Buckeyes.

Loser: A Texas-Sized Embarrassment

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    This has been a miserable first season in Austin for Texas coach Steve Sarkisian. But Saturday night was a new low.

    And, boy, we're talking about way below sea level for the Longhorns.

    Heading into a Kansas game where they were 30.5-point favorites, the 'Horns trailed by 21 points at halftime following an epic second-quarter collapse. But they stormed all the way back to tie the game in the final minute and send into overtime only to collapse in the end.

    After Texas scored a touchdown and kicked the extra point in the extra session, the Jayhawks scored and elected to go for two and the win. Quarterback Jalon Daniels capped his fantastic performance by evading pressure and scrambling right before eventually finding fullback Jared Casey for the game-winner.

    The Jayhawks celebrated an unbelievable 57-56 win, sending Texas to its first five-game losing streak since 1956.

    This was also Kansas' first road win in the Big 12 since all the way back in 2008, according to 247Sports' Chris Hummer.

    While this was the latest chapter of a nightmare for Sark, it could be a glimmer of hope for KU coach Lance Leipold, who is having to build a program from the basement upward.

    "I'm so proud of our guys," he told the ESPNU crew after the game. "They've been through so much. They've battled. They keep believing in what we're doing. Yeah, we let the lead slip away, but we talked about trying to finish and doing things and playing hard for 60 minutes and we did it and then some. Hopefully, it's something we'll build upon."

    Meanwhile, the Longhorns are chipped beef.

Winner: A Slinging Cowboy Captaining the Pirate's Ship at Mississippi State

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    For nearly a half of football at Jordan-Hare Stadium, the Auburn Tigers looked like the dominant team against Mississippi State.

    After going six quarters without a touchdown, the Tigers torched the Bulldogs with touchdowns on their first four drives to build a 25-point advantage just before the break. 

    But Mike Leach's offense was not just going to lay around and quit, and one of the SEC's two most unheralded signal-callers (along with Tennessee's Hendon Hooker) having a dynamite season proved he's a star-in-the-making with a second half for the ages.

    Sophomore quarterback Will Rogers led unranked Mississippi State to its largest comeback in school history as the Bulldogs came all the way back and captured a 43-34 road win. They became the first team to come back from a 25-point deficit since Oklahoma in 2019 against Baylor.

    Rogers was unstoppable guiding the Pirate's Air Raid assault in the second half, and the Tigers defense had zero answers. He completed 44-of-55 passes for 415 passing yards and six touchdowns in a near-spotless performance.

    On the other side of the ball, the Bulldogs bottled up an Auburn offense that had been clicking under Bo Nix throughout the first half. The Tigers didn't score any second-half points until 3:37 left in the game and trailing 43-28.

    It was the most uneven performance of Auburn's first season under coach Bryan Harsin, and the No. 17 Tigers almost certainly will fall out of the top-25 after last week's one-sided loss at Texas A&M. Now, Harsin and Co. have to guard against a total end-of-the-year collapse with the Iron Bowl looming.

    Leach's Bulldogs are bowl-bound, and with Rogers in Starkville for the foreseeable future, he's the perfect maestro to lead this offensive attack.

Loser: Grayson McCall-Less Coastal Carolina

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    Artie Walker Jr./Associated Press

    There's no question Grayson McCall makes everything tick for Coastal Carolina, so when he wasn't out there Saturday with an upper-body injury, it obviously made the Chanticleers vulnerable.

    Shawn Elliott's Georgia State Panthers smelled blood in the water and pounced, matching the Chants punch for punch and pulling out a huge 42-40 win in Conway, South Carolina. It was his program's first ever win over a top-25 opponent.

    The Panthers upset Tennessee in Neyland Stadium a couple of seasons ago and took Auburn to the brink before losing this year, but they finally earned the win over Coastal Carolina to upset the apple cart in the Sun Belt Conference.

    Backup quarterback Bryce Carpenter had a solid day replacing McCall, passing for 233 yards, a touchdown and an interception, but after finding Isaiah Likely for a 17-yard scoring toss with 1:09 remaining to pull within two points, but Georgia State stuffed the two-point conversion.

    The loss pushes Coastal into a tie with Georgia State in Group A of the conference standings at 4-2, and the Panthers of course have the tiebreaker. Leading that division is now Appalachian State. It's an uphill battle now for coach Jamey Chadwell's team to get back to the title game.

    McCall has battled injuries throughout the year, but a week ago, it looked like his season may be over. He still should be back at some point, but the impact of him being out Saturday sent shockwaves through the Group of Five.

    Elliott's Panthers are now 5-5 and moving up the ranks, and the Chanticleers must rally. It doesn't loo like there will be any Cinderella stories coming out of Conway this year.

Winner: Pickett's Last Charge (and Some Divine Intervention for Pitt)

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    Thursday night's Pittsburgh-North Carolina classic was basically three different games all collapsed into one free-for-all, what's-gonna-happen-next pleasure for fans.

    As the Panthers built a 23-7 halftime lead, it looked like Heisman Trophy hopeful Kenny Pickett couldn't be stopped in front of a handful of NFL scouts to watch him battle Sam Howell and the Tar Heels in a game of two potential early-round NFL draft pick franchise quarterbacks.

    During that dreadful start for UNC, Howell seemingly couldn't drop back without facing extreme pressure or getting sacked.

    Then, suddenly, North Carolina stormed back. The defense didn't allow Pickett's Panthers to score in the second half, and Howell helped them battle back to tie.

    But once the two teams got into overtime, Pickett settled down, finding Jordan Addison for eight yards, running for six of his own, then finding tight end Lucas Krull from 11 yards out to cover all 25 yards and put the Panthers ahead. He finished the game 25-of-43 for 346 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

    Then, what had been the perfect night of 60-degree weather turned on the Heels. As rain moved in, sprinkles turned into an all-out monsoon with heavy winds, too. Howell simply couldn't grip the ball during UNC's overtime session, and ESPN cameras could barely see the field.

    After two Howell passes short to intended receivers, M.J. Devonshire intercepted him on fourth down to end the game. In retrospect, had UNC coach Mack Brown said he should have gone for it on fourth down inside the Pitt 5 with a minute to go in regulation rather than kick the game-tying field goal with rain coming. 

    "I should have gone for the fourth-and-3 because the way it ended up, the rain was really hard and put us in an awful position in overtime, you're on the road," Brown told the News & Observer's, C.L. Brown. "The reason I didn't do it, I got talked out of it. But also, we hadn't made fourth-and-3 or fourth-and-two. But I still looking back, I would have been better off going for the fourth down at that point."

Loser: Miami's Mismanagement of the Game and Clock

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    Mark Wallheiser/Associated Press

    The Miami-Florida State game was an exercise in how to manage—and not to manage—the clock.

    For the Seminoles, who blew a 17-point lead as the rival Hurricanes stormed back to take an eight-point lead, it was coach Mike Norvell's cool hand and lack of panic that led to the opportunity for a win.

    Trailing 28-20 with 4:43 left and facing a fourth down, Norvell elected to kick the field goal and trim the lead to five points rather than try to score everything all at once. Florida State then kicked off, played sterling defense, got the ball back and took the ball 80 yards in seven plays in less than two minutes to take the lead.

    Quarterback Jordan Travis snuck in from the 1-yard line with 26 seconds left to give the 'Noles a lead, and the two-point conversion gave them a three-point advantage.

    In fairness to 'Canes signal-caller Tyler Van Dyke, what transpired next was not completely his fault. After all, he did complete a 19-yard pass to Charleston Rambo on 4th-and-10 down to his own 44-yard line with two seconds remaining.

    Rather than get the snap and heave it to the end zone, though, Van Dyke spiked the ball instead. According to the rule, there must be at least three seconds on the clock for a quarterback to snap the ball, so the official ruled the game was over, and Miami didn't get the chance for a miraculous win.

    Coach Manny Diaz's team blew a 28-20 lead late and have struggled all year hanging onto leads in the fourth quarter. This is the latest in a disappointing season for a team that had the opportunity to sneak into the ACC title game.

    Instead, FSU broke its four-game losing streak against its conference rival.

Winner: Texas Tech Kicker Jonathan Garibay with a 62-Yard Game-Winner

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    Brad Tollefson/Associated Press

    Holy wreck 'em, Batman!

    In college football's latest chapter of "We didn't see that coming," Texas Tech beat Iowa State with a 62-yard field goal from Jonathan Garibay as time expired, 41-38, to send Lubbock into a frenzy.

    This is the same Red Raiders team that fired coach Matt Wells, lost its last two games against Kansas State and Oklahoma and was facing a Cyclones team that looked like it had turned a corner and was playing like the team everybody thought Matt Campbell had at the beginning of the season.

    Instead, it was Texas Tech who was the relentless aggressor on Saturday, and they found their heroics in the howitzer leg of Garibay. Now, they're heading to a bowl game for the first time since 2017.

    The Cyclones had won five-straight games in the series and stormed back from a 17-point halftime deficit thanks to a pair of Brock Purdy scoring tosses to tight end Charlie Kolar and another one to running back Breece Hall, but they couldn't close it.

    This wasn't Garibay's first rodeo, either. "All Day" Garibay has now kicked three game-winning field goals in the Red Raiders' last 13 games. He beat Baylor as time expired last year and kicked the game-winner with 18 ticks left on the clock against West Virginia. He's a perfect 12-for-12 this season in field goals.

    But none of them came from 62 yards. Coaching with an all-or-nothing attitude, interim coach Sonny Cumbie sent his star kicker out there, and the kick was strong and true. There really wasn't a doubt from the time it left his foot, and the crowd celebration followed.

    After the game, Cumbie told the media Garibay has a "super strong leg." It's carrying the Red Raiders to the postseason.

Loser: Texas A&M and an Offense That Reverted to Early-Season Form

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    Ever since Texas A&M shocked Alabama, the Aggies and quarterback Zach Calzada have been growing up before the nation's eyes and showing up every Saturday.

    Had you said this weekend's trip to Ole Miss would be a defensive slugfest, though, few would have believed you; especially if you'd have said the Rebels' putrid defense would have controlled much of the game.

    Yet, that's exactly what happened in Oxford. The Rebels rode their defense to a 15-0 halftime lead when 408 offensive yards didn't manifest itself as big numbers on the scoreboard. Even after the Aggies mustered a bit of a comeback in the third quarter, the Rebels rose again.

    Calzada looked like a backup. After starting the year behind Haynes King, Calzada struggled when King went out with injury but began playing at a high level for much of the season. He reverted to old ways Saturday night, though.

    With A&M down just 15-13 in the fourth quarter, Calzada threw a costly interception on his own 12-yard line the Rebels turned into a touchdown two plays later. Then, on the next possession, Calzada threw another interception that AJ Finley returned 52 yards for a touchdown.

    Suddenly, an Aggies team that had been ranked 11th in the College Football Playoff rankings, the highest of any two-loss team in the nation, was down 29-13. It was an ugly, disappointing loss that didn't look anything like the up-and-coming program Jimbo Fisher had built throughout the season.

    All season, the SEC West has beat up on itself behind Alabama, and that continued in this game.

Winner: Iowa and Wisconsin Breaking Free in the Big Ten West

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    There is no longer a four-way tie atop the Big Ten West after a Saturday shake-up that included a major rebound win for the Iowa Hawkeyes and Wisconsin taking care of business.

    The Hawkeyes have struggled recently after an early-season surge saw them all the way at No. 2 in the nation, but they have found a little more offensive life (and balance) with the insertion of Alex Padilla at quarterback, and it's showing up in the win column.

    Coach Kirk Ferentz's team hasn't changed the way it plays good, old-fashioned rugged Big Ten football, but they can move the ball downfield through the air a little, too. They executed well enough on offense Saturday against Minnesota, and the defense did the rest in a 27-22 win over the Golden Gophers.

    They had a two-point lead late in the game, and the Gophers were backed up all the way inside their own 5-yard line with a 4th-and-17. Coach P.J. Fleck elected to go for it with just one timeout left, and when it failed, Iowa tacked on a field goal to cover and get the win.

    Minnesota frantically drove the ball into Iowa territory as a last hurrah, but the Hawkeyes sacked Tanner Morgan to end the game.

    With Purdue coming back to earth against Ohio State and Iowa knocking back the Gophers, Wisconsin's lopsided win over Northwestern put the Badgers in the driver's seat on that side of the conference. They hold the tiebreaker over Iowa with a 27-7 win from earlier this year.

    Wisconsin will end the season against Nebraska and Minnesota, with Iowa playing only Illinois and Nebraska. Unless either team gets upset, it's looking like Wisconsin could come out of that side of the Big Ten.

Loser: Cincinnati Style Points

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    Like any good coach trying to keep his team focused, Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell had downplayed the need for his Bearcats to put on a show for the College Football Playoff committee in recent weeks.

    But the bottom line is Cincy needs style points now at this point of the season. Though they checked in at No. 5 in the most recent playoff rankings, are they going to be able to do enough on the field to prove to the committee they deserve a shot at playing for the national title?

    Friday night's 45-28 win over 2-8 South Florida did little to inspire confidence, and that's really been the story the past month. Leading up to that game, the Bearcats averaged just 28.6 points per game in half-hearted wins over Navy, Tulane and Tulsa.

    While they threatened to pull away from the Bulls numerous times in Tampa, they couldn't quite do it. Fickell at least seemed to acknowledge the win over the Bulls wasn't pretty enough.

    "They're not satisfied," Fickell told 247Sports' Sam Marsdale of his team

    Then, to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Keith Jenkins, regarding the inability to pull away in the second half and having only a 10-point lead late after holding a 24-point lead: "Yeah, we like to make things a little bit more interesting (than they need to be). The defense played really well in the first half, like (allowing) 39 yards of offense, and then to come out in the second half and, I don't know, we let up a little bit."

    The headline of Tampa Bay Times' columnist Matt Baker's story was "Cincinnati doesn't look like a College Football Playoff team in win over USF."

    So, people are taking notice. Are they nitpicking? Sure, but when you're a Group of Five team trying to become the first to make the College Football Playoff, the scrutiny is immense. The best news for Cincinnati is, with Oklahoma's loss, the Bearcats may need to just simply hang on.

Winner: Oklahoma State Running Circles Around the Big 12

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    Oklahoma State unveiled its Barry Sanders statue this weekend and honored the Cowboys great during Saturday night's game against TCU.

    Then, the No. 10 Cowboys' able stable of running backs went out and made him proud.

    If you haven't been taking coach Mike Gundy's team seriously so far this season, now's the time. After Baylor beat Oklahoma on Saturday, the Cowboys have just as good a chance of being the Big 12's best playoff hope as the Sooners. And Bedlam is still on the horizon.

    This Cowboys team hasn't done everything pretty this year in compiling a 9-1 record. But on Saturday night in Stillwater, everything came together in a resounding 63-17 win over the Horned Frogs.

    TCU had no answers.

    Dominic Richardson led the Cowboys' rushing charge with 134 yards on 13 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns. Jaylen Warren added 113 yards on 17 carries and put it in the end zone three times. Dezmon Jackson and Jaden Dixon each had 69 yards and combined for three touchdowns.

    And, oh by the way, quarterback Spencer Sanders added 53 rushing yards of his own. On the night, the Cowboys had 451 rushing yards and scored eight times on the ground.

    With upstart Texas Tech next week and rival Oklahoma at the end of the year, the Cowboys can make plenty of noise if they win out. Whether it's enough to sneak into the playoffs may be a long shot, but nobody really expected Gundy's team to do what it has done this year.

    Saturday night's explosive performance was the biggest statement the Cowboys have made all season. Two huge tests await, though. It's going to be interesting to see how the Big 12 shakes out and what role Oklahoma State has in it.