Some general thoughts on Saturday's regional games (I welcome yours):
TCU fans, in maybe the most orderly and organized storming of the field I've ever seen, celebrated a huge 55-28 victory after setting the all-time attendance record of 50,307 at Amon G. Carter Stadium. TCU had to make a statement to keep slim hopes alive for a national title game berth. With Cincinnati still able to play a highly-ranked Pittsburgh team, the Frogs needed to have a performance that will stick in the minds of voters for the rest of the season. They did that in front of bowl representatives from the Fiesta, Rose and Orange, who saw a large and enthusiastic crowd and a team that is peaking at the right time. TCU's offense had over 500 yards, the defense made the stops it had to early in the game and created turnovers and special teams had big returns, a blocked punt and did the job on kickoff coverage. Can TCU hang with Florida, Alabama or Texas? I think so. But we'll probably never know.
The Fiesta Bowl sure would make sense for TCU. They have the second pick and now that USC isn't in the mix, I'm not sure how they don't take TCU should the Frogs keep winning. It's difficult to say who the opponent might be. One possbility: Oklahoma State. If the Cowboys keep winning, maybe the Frogs face a Big 12 opponent in the Fiesta. That's just speculation on my part.
TCU coach Gary Patterson enjoyed Saturday's win, but he's already on to Wyoming preparation. It took him less than 15 seconds in his opening remarks at the postgame press conference to mention Wyoming and how TCU must be ready. Patterson and his staff have not allowed TCU to look ahead or get complacement. They'll have to keep that string going against a 5-5 Wyoming team that will be at home and could be playing TCU in bad weather. The Frogs finish the season Nov. 28 against New Mexico.
Jerry Hughes was everywhere on Saturday, wasn't he? He had eight tackles and 1.5 sacks. But it really wasn't the numbers that caught everyone's attention. Hughes made all three tackles on TCU's defensive stand right after Utah tied the score. It was a big moment and Hughes stepped up. He was all over the backfield, rushing freshman quarterback Jordan Wynn all night.
It will be interesting to see if TCU's margin over Cincinnati goes up in the BCS or stays the same. The Bearcats beat No. 25 West Virginia by three Friday.
Texas sure looked impressive over Baylor. Colt McCoy earned his 42nd victory, tied for most ever by a major college quarterback. The Longhorns wanted to establish a running game that has sputtered at times. It certainly didn't sputter on Saturday. Texas had 224 yards rushing, including 109 from Cody Johnson and 80 from Tre' Newton. Johnson had two touchdowns and Newton had another. McCoy did what he had to do. He was 23-of-34 for 181 yards and two touchdowns as Texas built a 40-0 halftime lead. That's what high-ranked teams should do as favorites on the road. Texas didn't ever let Baylor feel like they were in the game. If they win out, they will probably play the SEC champion in the title game.
Did you see the Texas defense and special teams again? Wow. Those units are really impressive. Texas had another blocked kick and the defense bottled up Baylor all game. The Bears scored late with the substitutes on the field. Texas may be better than that 2005 team on defense.
SMU's fortunes sure changed on Saturday. They are bowl eligible and back in the conference race. Houston's stunning loss to Central Florida gives the Mustangs a chance to win a conference championship. And they took the first step with a 35-31 win over UTEP. It wasn't easy for the Mustangs, who surrendered 627 yards on defense. But they got the win. We'll see where they end up, but the Hawaii Bowl is still a possbility as are some others if SMU keeps winning. The Liberty Bowl takes the Conference USA champion. SMU coach June Jones pronounced Kyle Padron as the starter for good after the game. That makes sense. He's done the job to earn it. He was 17-for-24 with 244 yards and two interceptions. He'll keep learning as he keeps playing. But he's helped lead the team to three straight wins and the six victories that were a major team goal to start the season.
Oklahoma State kept its BCS bowl hopes alive with a 24-17 win over Texas Tech. It was the first time Tech had played in Stillwater since Mike Gundy's famous speech ("I'm a man, I'm 40!" ... that's still a classic, isn't it?). OSU had 207 rushing yards in the second half, grinding out the victory with 22 minutes of ball possession. Quarterback Zac Robinson rushed for 99 yards on 19 carries. Keith Totson, who has become a reliable back, had 76 yards on 22 carries. Kendall Hunter added 66 yards. Next up for the Cowboys: Colorado on Nov. 19.
What in the world happened to the Aggies? After looking like a team gaining some momentum a few weeks ago, they lost by one to Colorado and were clobbered by Oklahoma, 65-10. The Sooners didn't waste any time, either, putting up 28 points in the second half to take a 42-10 halftime lead. A&M's punt and kickoff return units struggled. The Aggies muffed kicks constantly, including two that resulted in turnovers and easy scores for the Sooners. Landry Jones sure bounced back from his five-interception game against Nebraska. Jones was 24-of-39 for 392 yards and five touchdowns. He had one interception. Oklahoma travels to Lubbock this week before Bedlam in Norman.
I can't wait for OU-OSU. That is going to be very entertaining (as usual) this year.
North Texas' road to learning how to finish off games is a long one. UNT led by seven entering the fourth quarter against Florida International but couldn't hold on. FIU got 14 fourth-quarter points and stopped UNT on a fourth-and-7 from the FIU 10-yard line to seal the game with under two minutes left. It's the fourth time this season UNT has lost after leading in the final quarter.