senior Quarterback

Baylor at Oklahoma

Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium

Norman, Oklahoma

Saturday, 11:00 a.m.

Fox Sports 1

Before the season began, this was the de facto Big 12 title game in many people’s minds. Many picked the two teams to finish atop the conference in the preseason, but it hasn’t quite panned out that way. Baylor had to climb back from a 21-point deficit at home against TCU and then lost at West Virginia. Baylor senior quarterback Bryce Petty has not had the same season as a year ago, with a mere 54.8 completion percentage, 20 touchdowns and three interceptions. Oklahoma, on the other hand, is already out of contention for the conference crown after losing to TCU and Kansas State. Sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight has had issues, sporting a 3-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. That being said, this is still a big game for both teams. Baylor can still win the title but obviously needs a win to keep that dream alive, while Oklahoma is looking to save face and avoid a disappointing season.

Notre Dame at Arizona State

Sun Devil Stadium

Tempe, Arizona

Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

ABC

Both teams, with one loss each, are more or less out of the playoff picture at the moment, but given that there are more upsets likely to come, they’re still technically alive, and a win would go a long way in keeping them in the hunt. Notre Dame bounced back from its loss at Florida State with a come-from-behind win over Navy last week, and, despite missing all of last year, senior quarterback Everett Golson has played well, with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Arizona State, on the other hand, has quietly put together a solid season so far, with the lone blemish being a blowout loss to UCLA in September. Senior quarterback Taylor Kelly is coming back from an injury but has thrown nine touchdowns and two interceptions this season. It may not have the conference rivalry element, but this game could be very big in determining who might sneak into the playoffs.

Kansas State at TCU

Amon G. Carter Stadium

Fort Worth, Texas

Saturday, 6:30 p.m.

FOX

Fort Worth will play host to what might end up being the Big 12 title game this weekend between Kansas State and TCU — two teams most people didn’t believe would contend for the conference crown this season. The Wildcats have quietly put together a solid team — as they always seem to do — that can compete with just about anybody in the nation and are only a few missed field goals away from being undefeated. Senior quarterback Jake Waters has just about done it all on offense this season, with 11 passing touchdowns and seven rushing touchdowns. TCU has vaulted itself into the playoff conversation following an upset of Oklahoma and an impressive win at West Virginia last week. Redshirt junior quarterback Trevone Boykin has played great, with 2,472 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and four interceptions. Technically, this won’t necessarily decide the Big 12 title — Baylor owns the tiebreaker over TCU, and there are still a few games to be played — but there’s a good chance it will determine who represents the Big 12 in the College Football Playoff.

Ohio State at Michigan State

Spartan Stadium

East Lansing, Michigan

Saturday, 7:00 p.m.

ABC

After wandering around the college-football desert for seemingly the entire season, the Big Ten finally has a massive game on its hands. The winner of this game will likely be Big Ten East champion and will have the conference’s best shot at getting a team into the playoffs. Ohio State has rebounded nicely after the embarrassing loss to Virginia Tech, but this will be its first matchup against a ranked opponent this season. Freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett has thrown for 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions, filling in nicely for injured senior Braxton Miller. Michigan State, on the other hand, has only a “good” loss at Oregon early in the season and has dominated every opponent since. The Spartans are fifth in the nation in points scored per game with 45.5 and have only allowed 20.3 points per game. With the Big Ten West looking weak thus far, this game will likely determine who, if anyone, represents the conference in the playoffs.

1. No. 10 TCU

The Horned Frogs are rising quickly. They started off this season near the bottom of most Big 12 standing projections, but, aside from a complete fourth quarter meltdown against Baylor, they have been the most dominant team. They beat Oklahoma, they should have beaten Baylor and they crushed Oklahoma State. They are scoring at a ridiculous pace — 45.2 points per game — behind the arm of junior receiver-turned-quarterback Trevone Boykin. He’s thrown 14 touchdowns against just three picks, while adding over 57 yards per game on the ground.

2. No. 11 Kansas State

The Wildcats currently sit atop the Big 12 standings with a 3-0 conference record. Head coach Bill Snyder is making a case to be coach of the year, as he has his team outplaying more talented teams yet again. They were lucky to escape Oklahoma with a win Saturday, but with senior quarterback Jake Waters’ rapid improvement and a solid defense, Kansas State will be able to compete with anyone. When will we stop underrating Kansas State?

3. No. 17 Oklahoma

The Sooners should have beaten Kansas State at home Saturday. Michael Hunnicutt, their typically outstanding kicker, missed two “easy” field goals and had an extra point blocked, as they went on to lose by one. The real worry isn’t Hunnicutt, however — it’s redshirt sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight. He’s completing just 59 percent of his passes while throwing six picks. He had his best game of the season against the Wildcats, but can he keep it up?

4. No. 12 Baylor

For the third straight week, the Bears looked less than stellar. They are still the highest scoring team in the country, but their defense is a major liability. After allowing less than 13 points per game in the first five contests, many thought this defense had figured things out. But then TCU put up 58 points, and West Virginia tallied 41 in the upset. Their remaining schedule isn’t easy, either, as they still face Kansas State and Oklahoma.

5. No. 22 West Virginia

The Mountaineers proved they should be taken seriously, as they are now in the top 25. They are 6-1 on the season and have a great offense. Redshirt senior quarterback Clint Trickett is a serious candidate for the Big 12 Player of the Year award, averaging over 360 yards per game to complement his 15 touchdowns. Oh, and he is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes.

6. Oklahoma State

TCU put the Cowboys in their place in a blowout win last weekend. The Cowboys have the toughest remaining schedule in the Big 12, as they will face No. 22 West Virginia, No. 12 Baylor and No. 17 Oklahoma on the road in their final four games. It may be a rough end to the season for head coach Mike Gundy and his Pokes.

7. Texas

For the second week in a row, the Longhorn offense, led by the emergence of sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, has looked like the real deal. Texas outplayed Oklahoma and hung on to beat Iowa State. Texas isn’t going to scare anyone, but they aren’t road kill either. But, sitting at just 3-4, they will need to win three of their final five contests to be bowl eligible. With TCU and Kansas State still on the schedule, that won’t be an easy task.

8. Iowa State

Once again, the Cyclones hung around with a better team, but once again, they lost. Redshirt junior quarterback Sam Richardson is playing well at quarterback, but their defense isn’t good enough to compete in a Big 12 loaded with offensive juggernauts.

9. Texas Tech

The Red Raider defense gets worse and worse each week. They allowed 21 points and 363 yards to Kansas, which might have been their worst performance of the year. After a hot start, their offense has begun to falter, and David Webb’s stock continues to plummet.

10. Kansas

The Jayhawks aren’t going to get a Big 12 win this year. At this point, all they can do is count down the days until basketball season.

No. 3 Ole Miss at No. 24 LSU

Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Saturday, 6:15 p.m.

ESPN

Ole Miss has been one of the surprise teams in the SEC West, upsetting Alabama three weeks ago. Now, the Rebels will get another challenge as they go into Death Valley at night to face a Tiger team trying to hang on in the SEC West race. Ole Miss has benefitted from a much improved Bo Wallace. The senior quarterback has thrown for 1,899 yards and 17 touchdowns so far this season, averaging 9.1 yards per attempt, the highest of his career. On the other side, freshman running back Leonard Fournette is leading the Tigers with 544 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. But, he did not score in either of the two LSU losses this season. Although the Tigers are having a down year, this is by no means an easy game for the Rebels, especially in Baton Rouge with major playoff implications at stake.

No. 20 USC at No. 19 Utah

Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah

Saturday, 9:00 p.m.

Fox Sports 1

The only other matchup between ranked teams comes way off the beaten path. While they both come in ranked in the Top 20, neither USC nor Utah are in any serious contention for the playoffs. But, that doesn’t mean this game won’t be intriguing. The Trojans are on their way back to some relevancy after a horrendous couple of years under former head coach Lane Kiffin. Redshirt junior quarterback Cody Kessler has been fairly impressive this season, throwing for 1,884 yards, 18 touchdowns and only one interception so far. But the Trojan defense is only 47th in the country, surrendering 23.1 points per game. The Utes, on the other hand, have seemingly come out of nowhere to earn their ranking. After two years of being an afterthought in the Pac-12, Utah pulled off an upset over then-No. 8 UCLA two weeks ago and beat Oregon State in double overtime last week. Yes, this is a late kickoff, but it ought to be well worth the wait to see these Pac-12 teams go at it.

No. 22 West Virginia at Oklahoma State

Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, Oklahoma

Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

ESPN

The most intriguing game in the Big 12 this week comes between two teams that have had their share of ups and downs this season. West Virginia has been a bit of Jekyll and Hyde, almost pulling off an upset over Alabama and beating Baylor last week but losing to Oklahoma and needing a last-second field goal to beat Texas Tech. Senior quarterback Clint Trickett has been masterful for the Mountaineers, passing for 2,525 yards, 15 touchdowns and five interceptions. On the other side, Oklahoma State has struggled since junior quarterback J.W. Walsh went down in week two with an injury. Fellow junior quarterback Daxx Garman has played decently in his place, but the Cowboys look like a far cry from the team that almost beat Florida State to start the season, having just edged out Kansas by seven points and losing 42-9 to TCU last week. If both teams show up this week as Dr. Jekyll, we could be in for a heck of a game.

No. 13 Ohio State at Penn State

Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pennsylvania

Saturday, 7:00 p.m.

ABC

Since top teams Ohio State and Michigan State each lost big out-of-conference games back in September, the Big Ten has flown under the radar. But, this showdown of perennial conference powers will put the conference back on the map, even if it’s just for one week. Other than the loss to Virginia Tech in the second week of the season, the Buckeyes have been dominant this year, winning their two conference games by a combined score of 108-41. Freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett has been great in place of the injured Braxton Miller, throwing for 1,615 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions. Penn State, on the other hand, has fallen off, losing their last two games after winning their first four. In those two losses, sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg has only thrown one touchdown pass and two interceptions. While this might seem like a cakewalk for an Ohio State team with an outside chance of getting into the playoff, anything can happen in Happy Valley.

No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 2 Florida State

Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Florida

Saturday, 7:00 p.m.

ABC

Despite both the Fighting Irish and Seminoles’ storied football history, this is only the 10th ever meeting between the two teams. History, both distant and recent, heavily favors Florida State, with the Seminoles holding a 7-2 all-time lead in the series and coming into the game on a 22-game streak. But Notre Dame has been one of the quietest undefeated teams in some time. Senior quarterback Everett Golson has come back from his academic suspension on a mission, amassing 1,683 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions this year, and the Fighting Irish are eighth in scoring defense, giving up just 17.2 points per game. Meanwhile, defendng champion Florida State has been struggling, barely surviving upset bids from Clemson and North Carolina State. Sophomore quarterback Jameis Winston, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, has not had a great year, throwing just 11 touchdown passes and five interceptions. Still, both teams are undefeated, and this game could determine who gets a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

No. 14 Kansas State at No. 11 Oklahoma

Memorial Stadium, Norman, Oklahoma

Saturday, 11:00 a.m.

ESPN

While the SEC West seems to dominate the headlines, the Big 12 has produced back-to-back weeks chock-full of solid matchups, and this one continues that trend. As always under Bill Snyder, the Wildcats have quietly put together a solid team that should contend for the Big 12 title or, at the very least, make a lot of noise. Kansas State nearly pulled off a big Thursday night upset over Auburn a few weeks ago and are led by senior quarterback Jake Waters, who’s thrown for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns and has run for six more scores, and senior receiver Tyler Lockett, who has three receiving touchdowns. On the other side, the Sooners hope to continue their bounce-back efforts after losing to TCU a couple weeks ago. Oklahoma will need a much better effort from sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight, who’s thrown for just 438 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the past two games. This will be the best early game Saturday, with the winner being in a great position to take the Big 12 crown if Baylor ever goes down.

No. 15 Oklahoma State at No. 12 TCU

Amon G. Carter Stadium, Ft. Worth, Texas

Saturday, 3:00 p.m.

Fox Sports 1

The Big 12 slate continues with Oklahoma State and TCU squaring off in a similar situation to the Kansas State-Oklahoma matchup. OSU has rebounded well, winning five straight game, after losing the season opener to Florida State, but this will be the Cowboys’ biggest test since that loss. Junior quarterback Daxx Garman has played well since J.W. Walsh went down with an injury, but the Cowboys have struggled, beating Kansas by just seven points last week. TCU, on the other hand, looks to rebound after blowing a 21-point lead against Baylor last week. The Horned Frogs, led by a defense that was allowing just 13.5 points per game before the Baylor game, have been the surprise team in the conference as junior quarterback Trevone Boykin has shown the potential to be another one of the talented quarterbacks in the Big 12. The winner of this game, as in the Kansas State-Oklahoma matchup, will be in a great position to capture the Big 12 title if Baylor slips up.

No. 21 Texas A&M at No. 7 Alabama

Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

CBS

No, this game is unlikely to impact who will win the SEC West considering both teams have lost to Ole Miss. But it could determine how the rest of the season will go for both teams. Texas A&M is coming off of back-to-back losses to Ole Miss and Mississippi State, and the vaunted defense that held South Carolina to only 28 points in the opener has been exposed, conceding 48 and 35 points in each of the past two games. Sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill has struggled in the past two weeks, throwing five interceptions. Alabama has also struggled the past two weeks, losing to Ole Miss for the first time since 2003 and barely holding off Arkansas by a point. The main struggles for the Crimson Tide have come from senior quarterback Blake Sims, who has completed only 58 percent of his passes in the past two games and has thrown only two touchdown passes. No, this game may not have any College Football Playoff or SEC West implications. but the loser of this one will have a long way to go to stay afloat in such a difficult division.

1. Baylor

The Bears offense looked stoppable against Texas, but, after Oklahoma’s loss to TCU, they regain the top spot. Unlike in past years, they are a complete team. While their offense is still No. 1 in the nation after a shaky week, their defense is something to fear. Baylor has allowed only 12.4 points per game, fifth best in the country.

2. Oklahoma

This Sooner defense isn’t as good as it has been in years past, allowing 35 points per game in their two Big 12 matchups against TCU and West Virginia. After holding on to the top spot on this list and a No. 4 ranking in the nation, Oklahoma fell to an upstart TCU squad. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight isn’t having the big year many were hoping for. His fourth quarter pick-six was the difference. The Sooners should be able to turn it around, but they will need better play from Knight.

3. Kansas State

The Wildcats demolished Texas Tech, shutting down its offense. They forced sophomore quarterback Davis Webb into four interceptions, holding the offensive juggernaut to just 347 total yards. Kansas senior quarterback Jake Waters, who seems to be getting better each week, was incredibly efficient again, tossing four touchdowns while completing 77 percent of his passes. Their only loss was a tight one to Auburn, and that’s not too shabby.

4. TCU

With a shocker against Oklahoma, the Horned Frogs have turned themselves into a contender. Their offense behind junior quarterback Trevone Boykin and junior running back B.J. Catalon is balanced. They are averaging 42.8 points per game, good for No. 12 in the nation. But more impressive — and less surprising — is their defense. Even without the preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Devonte Fields, the Horned Frogs defense is allowing less than 14 points per game.

5. Oklahoma State

The Cowboys were sloppy in the first half and let a bad Iowa State team hang around. But, nevertheless, they have won four in a row behind an upstart offense. Dax Garman, since taking over in week two, is leading the efficient offense. They will be in the Big 12 race all season, as they don’t face Baylor and Oklahoma until the final two weeks.

6. West Virginia

For the fifth straight game, senior quarterback Clint Trickett threw for over 300 yards. With him at the helm, the Mountaineers won’t be a pushover. But, with a struggling defense on the other side of the ball, not much can be expected from them against tougher competition.

7. Texas

The defense looks great, but the offense does not. Swoopes’ performance against Baylor was abysmal, and the offense failed to get anything going at home. The good news, though, is that head coach Charlie Strong has the defense playing at a high level. They held Baylor senior quarterback Bryce Petty to 111 yards, which is no small feat.

8. Iowa State

They have found themselves hanging around better teams before ultimately falling short. But their ability to hang around is certainly a positive. Sooner, rather than later, they will be able to hang around just long enough to upset one of the teams ranked higher than them.

9. Texas Tech

Sophomore quarterback Davis Webb has thrown six interceptions in his last two games, as teams begin to make life difficult for him. As the only bright spot early on for Texas Tech, Webb’s star is getting dimmer and dimmer. That’s bad news for the conference’s
worst defense.

10. Kansas

Their offense is really bad. Their defense is pretty bad. Not much is going right for the Jayhawks off the field, either. With two wins already on the season, at least they had something to cheer for — because they may not get another one this year. The good news: just a little over a month until basketball season starts. 

1. No. 3 Oklahoma

The Sooners are sitting pretty through four games, putting up nearly 45 points per game while allowing just over 16. Everyone knew redshirt sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight would come back from a rough start, but what has to be most encouraging for Oklahoma is its run game, led by freshman Samaje Perine and sophomore Keith Ford, which averages 222 rushing yards per game. This is a balanced team that many predict will represent the Big 12 in the College Football Playoff.

2. No. 7 Baylor

The Bears’ offense is No. 1 in the nation, for good reason. Redshirt senior quarterback Bryce Petty is near the top of the Heisman watch list and the offensive line has kept him upright, not allowing a single sack on the year. The real surprise for Baylor is how well its defense has played this season, although against some sub-par teams. They allow only 13.8 points per game and rank in the top five in the nation for sacks and tackles for loss.

3. No. 23 Kansas State

If it weren’t for three missed field goals against Auburn, the Wildcats would be a top-15 team in the country. But that’s the way things went, and, although they lost, there were some positives. Senior Jake Waters is handling the quarterback position much better than last year, throwing and running with efficiency while the defense is playing well. Head coach Bill Snyder has them playing well, and while they could easily be upset by almost any team — sorry, Kansas — in the conference, they can also beat anyone.

4. Oklahoma State

The Cowboy offense showed last Thursday against Texas Tech it can put up points with Daxx Garman at the helm. Coupled with senior running back Desmond Roland in the backfield, the Pokes’ offense is getting better every week. However, the Cowboys aren’t great at any one position, which limits their upside.

5. No. 25 TCU

After a disastrous 2013 season, TCU is the surprise of the Big 12 so far. The Horned Frogs have quietly snuck themselves back into the top-25 with a dominant 57-0 shutout of SMU. They also crushed a Minnesotta, a team that blew out Michigan in the Big House. There are still some questions about how good they really are, but head coach Gary Patterson’s bunch is much better than many expected. However, the undefeated Horned Frogs won’t be perfect for much longer as they play Oklahoma and Baylor in back-to-back weeks.

6. Texas

The Longhorns are making steady improvements, but they aren’t ready quite yet. Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes is making great strides, but with a shaky offensive line and inefficient run game, there will be too much pressure on him as the going gets tough with games against Baylor and Oklahoma over the next
two weeks.

7. West Virginia

Nothing has changed for the Mountaineers since last week; they aren’t bad, but, at the same time, they aren’t very good. They played close games against both No. 2 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma, thanks to the play of redshirt senior quarterback Clint Trickett, but they also let Maryland hang around. With Kansas and Texas Tech coming up, West Virginia may be able to build some momentum before a home matchup against Baylor.

8. Texas Tech

Sophomore quarterback Davis Webb is still really good. In fact, he may be the Big 12’s best quarterback. However, the Red Raider defense is still atrocious. The defense is allowing over 38 points per game, which includes contests against the likes of Central Arkansas and UTEP. A good offense can only take a team so high; a bad defense can drop it really low.

9. Iowa State

A tough early season schedule has the Cyclones at just 1-3 with conference season underway. There aren’t many bright spots for the Cyclones, and the schedule doesn’t get much easier with Oklahoma State coming into town.

10. Kansas

After getting shut out by Texas, the Jayhawks fired head coach Charlie Weis. That may be a step in the right direction, but their talent level won’t get better any time soon.

1. Oklahoma

The Sooners looked vulnerable at times against West Virginia, but when the going got tough, they stepped up, and that’s a good sign for OU. Once again, redshirt sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight was nothing special, but they are still finding ways to win. The defense stepped up in the second half to correct its issues, but the most encouraging part of the last few weeks has been freshman running back Samaje Perine, who rushed for 242 yards and four touchdowns against West Virginia.

2. Baylor

Redshirt senior quarterback Bryce Petty looks better and better every week. In his last start, he threw for 416 yards and four touchdowns with no picks. He has a lot of offensive weapons at his disposal, helping him lead the nation’s highest scoring offense. But the defense is most important for the Bears. Will it be good enough? So far, yes. They have allowed just nine points per game — second in the nation. But keep in mind, that’s against SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo.

3. Kansas State

The Wildcats were a good field goal kicker away from pulling off the upset against No. 5 Auburn. With that performance, they solidified their position as the conference’s third-best team. They are a ways behind Oklahoma and Baylor, but they shouldn’t be taken lightly. Head coach Bill Snyder gets the best of his team each season, and this season is no exception.

4. Oklahoma State

Behind a balanced attack, the Cowboys crushed a surprisingly good UTSA team in their last game. Senior running back Desmond Roland is making a case for the Big 12’s best rusher, while junior Daxx Garman has taken a stronghold on the quarterback position. Their only loss so far is a six point defeat at the hands of No. 1 Florida State — nothing to frown about.

5. West Virginia

The Mountaineers are the biggest surprise of the Big 12 so far. West Virginia played a close game against both No. 2 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma. But they also let Maryland hang around, so they may play down to their competition. Their offense is legit, putting up at least 33 points against all opponents except Alabama. Redshirt senior quarterback Clint Trickett is putting the team on his back, throwing for at least 348 yards in every game.

6. Texas

Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes is getting his footing under him, but the Longhorn defense is struggling to stop the run. Right now, the Longhorns are inexperienced, especially on the offensive line, but as Swoopes becomes more and more comfortable, the Longhorns could shoot up the rankings and battle for a top-four spot.

7. TCU

The Horned Frogs are still undefeated and play SMU next. That’s a good start, but they lack the talent at important positions to fight for a top spot in the Big 12. They aren’t ready yet, and it will be apparent when Oklahoma and Baylor get to beat up on them in October.

8. Iowa State

The Cyclones missed a huge upset opportunity against Kansas State, but they proved they can compete with one of the top teams in the conference. They simply lack the talent to do so consistently.

9. Texas Tech

The Red Raider defense is atrocious, with or without its coordinator. Sophomore quarterback Davis Webb and the explosive Tech offense won’t be able to make up for that against stout Big 12 competition.

10. Kansas

The Jayhawks are 2-1 so far, and if they win just one more game this season, it should be considered a success. It’s all Big 12 opponents from here on out, and that doesn’t bode well for Charlie Weis and Co.

No. 14 USC vs. No. 13 Stanford

The first Pac-12 match up of the season features a heavy-weight showdown between a team that has dominated the conference the past few seasons and a team that dominated the conference in the past. Stanford, led by senior quarterback Kevin Hogan, is looking to set itself up for another run at the Pac-12 title and possibly a berth in the College Football Playoff. USC is looking to finally get back on top of the conference with new head coach Steve Sarkisian, after opening with an impressive 52-13 win over Fresno State last Friday. Aside from the similar rankings, the biggest reason to watch this game is that each of the last four meetings between the teams have come down to the fourth quarter, and that will likely be the case again Saturday afternoon.

No. 7 Michigan St. vs. No. 3 Oregon

The first meeting between two teams ranked in the top ten will be quite the contrast in styles Saturday night. Michigan State is known as a power-running team with strong defense, similar to Texas, while Oregon has made its name with its fast-paced offense, designed by former head coach Chip Kelly. Also, the Ducks feature a Heisman candidate in redshirt junior quarterback Marcus Mariota, and Autzen Stadium will be rocking. With the winner of this matchup likely having an inside track to a spot in the playoffs, this will be the game to watch Saturday night.

Michigan vs. No. 16 Notre Dame

One of the great college football rivalries will come to an end for the foreseeable future Saturday night when Michigan and Notre Dame take the field in South Bend, Indiana one last time. No matter the result of the game, the Wolverines will retain the all-time series lead, but college football fans will be the big losers in all of this. The two teams stack up as two of the greatest all-time college football programs, with both of them in the top three on the all-time wins list. Neither side is considered a favorite to make the playoffs, but the end of a great rivalry is worth tuning in for.

No. 15 Ole Miss vs. Vanderbilt

On the surface, this doesn’t look like much of a matchup, even in the SEC. Neither team has been a real power in the conference, but that could be changing, especially for Ole Miss. The Rebels are ranked and, despite a slow start against Boise State, are poised to at least make some noise in the SEC West — a charge that will be led by senior quarterback Bo Wallace. The Commodores are looking to build on their success from the last couple of seasons, even without former head coach James Franklin, who left for Penn State. With each of the last two meetings coming down to the wire, this is an under-the-radar matchup that could be one of the best games all weekend.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

The football gods have finally answered the Longhorns’ prayers.

With the clock at zero, senior quarterback Case McCoy reared back and tossed a 44-yard floater into the end zone, which a crowd of white and red jerseys surrounded like eager sharks waiting for wounded prey. Miraculously, the ball dropped straight into redshirt junior wide receiver John Harris’ hands.

The rarest play in football, the Hail Mary, made an appearance, and Texas entered the half with a 17-13 lead that it had no business owning.

The laws of momentum say the Longhorns were sure to capitalize, but much like the sense of entitlement that proclaims Texas to be a powerhouse, laws and ideas don’t seem to apply for this era of Longhorn football. The team began the third quarter with the ball and promptly fell flat. It was only thanks to a last-minute drive filled with blunders, flags and fumbles that yanked Texas out of Ames, Iowa with a victory.

The players and coaching staff reacted with jubilation, but it had to be more from a sense of relief than accomplishment. Texas is supposed to beat Iowa State; It has only lost to the Cyclones once in program history. Nevertheless, the effort and performance Thursday night didn’t reflect a team with that level of confidence.

Part of that is on the players. Actually, more of it should be heaped upon them than will be in the coming days. 

But the real onus is on a coaching staff. For a team in a cyclone of criticism over the past month, a trip to Ames should have been a welcome break.

Iowa State is a good football team, but by no means a squad with the caliber of players the Longhorns trot out on a daily basis. Still, for some reason, the Longhorns were outplayed.

A series of fortunate breaks and a gutsy senior quarterback pushed Texas through the fire, but the heat won’t be extinguished anytime soon. The first domino for a changing of the guard fell Tuesday when men’s head athletic director DeLoss Dodds announced he will retire at the end of the year, and this one-point victory only slowed the count until the next one falls.

Maybe it will be head coach Mack Brown, possibly co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, or more likely, both. Either way, this team seems to be swimming forward only to have the current to come along and wash them back.

For now, Brown and an iteration of Longhorn seniors who have never cracked double digits wins in a season keep floating.

Can they keep it up?

Realistically, not for long. Oklahoma will slaughter Texas if it plays in a similar fashion at the Cotton Bowl, as will TCU the following week. As is the nature of the Big 12, it doesn’t get any easier from there.  

A Hail Mary or two would certainly aid the team’s efforts, but unfortunately for Brown and Texas, prayers aren’t often answered twice.

If you look closely, the next domino is starting to tip. It’s only a matter of time.

Check out photos from Thursday's game.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Boos poured down from the stands at Jack Trice Stadium as the officials confirmed Johnathan Gray’s fourth-quarter red-zone run was halted by forward progress.

Gray appeared to be stripped of the football as he lunged towards the goal line, and Cyclones senior linebacker Jeremiah George scooped it up and scurried down the field. Officials ruled the play over before Gray fumbled, and Texas scored two plays later on a 1-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Case McCoy with 0:51 seconds remaining en route to a 31-30 win.

Texas managed to halt the Cyclones’ final drive in the closing seconds, with an interception by senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat clinching the comeback victory.

McCoy provided an up and down performance in his second start of the season, missing a number of open receivers while averaging just 5.4 yards per pass attempt. He elevated his play in the game’s final drive, though, completing three of four passes for 24 yards while scoring the game-winner with his legs. Overall, the senior quarterback racked up 244 yards with a touchdown through the air on 24 of 45 passing.

Check out photos from Thursday's game.