Five years ago, Baylor signed a contract to play Louisiana-Monroe. About six months ago, ESPN asked both schools to move the game from Saturday to Friday for a prime-time telecast.
Neither the school nor the network could have predicted that what appeared to be a nondescript non-conference game would become a Game To Watch.
The Bears (2-0) will be on Upset Alert for the 7 p.m. game at Malone Stadium in Monroe, La. That's because the Warhawks have one upset to their credit – an overtime victory against No. 8 Arkansas – and a near-upset, an overtime loss at Auburn.
No wonder that Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw was half joking, half serious when he said "that wasn't part of the contract" when asked about the scheduling earlier this week.
The Bears face a situation similar to what Texas Tech faced on Sept. 8. The Red Raiders played at Texas State the week after the Bobcats had stunned Houston on the road. That outcome got Texas Tech's attention and the Red Raiders easily won, 58-10.
"They've got everyone's attention right now," Baylor quarterback Nick Florence said of Louisiana-Monroe.
The Warhawks rallied in both games against SEC foes, scoring a total of 35 second-half points on the road. A missed field goal at Auburn in the first overtime led to a 31-28 loss.
"We were devastated afterwards and that's great," ULM coach Todd Berry said, "because that tells me we're not into moral victories. They believed they could win the game."
Junior quarterback Kolton Browning leads the team in passing and rushing. His dual-threat capabilities have caused fits for Arkansas and Auburn.
"He's kind of uncanny and on fire right now," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "He's a real good athlete and was a three-sport guy coming out of high school. He's got a way of extending plays. For a lot of people, the play might be over, but for him they're still alive."
Baylor got off to a slow start last Saturday against Sam Houston State before rallying in the second half for a 48-23 victory. The Bears have had one less day to prepare and are making their first road trip. Following Louisiana-Monroe, they open Big 12 play at West Virginia on Sept. 29.
Plus, ESPN Friday night telecasts have become the home for headline-making upsets. In recent years, Boise State and Oklahoma State have been high-ranked victims on the road.
"I'm anxious for Friday because you're going to see two teams that will lay it on the line and go out there every snap and play hard," Berry said. "It's going to be fast break football like you've probably never seen before in terms of the speed of the game and how fast everything is coming."
Good for Goodwin
Marquise Goodwin, who competed in the long jump in the Summer Olympics, had an excellent three-day adventure last week. On Thursday, he was part of a U.S. Olympic track and field group that visited the White House and met President Obama. From Washington, D.C., he flew to Memphis to join Texas the day before the Longhorns played at Ole Miss. In two days, Goodwin traveled about 2,400 miles.
Then Goodwin helped spark UT's 66-31 victory over the Rebels with a 69-yard touchdown run and a 55-yard touchdown reception. He finished with a career-high 198 all-purpose yards (102 yards receiving, 80 rushing, 16 on kickoff returns).
"It was a wonderful experience hanging out at the White House with the President, the First Lady, the Vice President, all the Olympians and my fellow Longhorns," Goodwin said after the game. "It was a challenging couple days of travel, but the experience was well worth it. It was second to none.
"I was so proud to represent the Longhorns at the White House. When I got back to my teammates in Memphis late (Friday) night I knew I was home and happy to get back to meetings and then on the field with them."
Pulling Back The Curtain
Oklahoma State is idle this Saturday and its next game will be a Big 12 showdown in Stillwater with Texas. But the Cowboys were reminded of their stature and the importance of the game during practice this week.
With coach Mike Gundy's blessing, ESPN cameras were in team meeting rooms and at Tuesday's practice for an all-access feature that will air next week.
"They called maybe a week ago and asked to come in," Gundy told The Tulsa World. "As a coach, you're always hesitant at times to let people inside meetings and practice - all-access is what it is - but I think it's valuable. I think we have a lot to show, that people want to see what's going on inside our football program. We decided to go ahead and let them come."
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder is known for his work ethic. When building the program in the 1990s, he would watch game film while on a treadmill and put in 16-hour days. Even at age 72, he's still a workaholic who enjoys utilizing a dry sense of humor. This week Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com asked Snyder how his family was doing. The coach replied: "They tell me they're OK."
Iowa State announced this week that will play in-state FCS program Northern Iowa in seven of the next 11 years. The Cyclones will host the Panthers in the 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2021 and 2023 seasons. Iowa State leads the series 20-4-3 and has won seven of the last meetings.
Back in the spring, TCU could boast it was the only school in the country with three returning rushers who had gained 700 or more yards. That is now down to one. Ed Wesley left school over the summer and it was announced this week that Waymon James will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. James, a junior who led the Horned Frogs in rushing last season, was their leading rusher through two games with 168 yards. He suffered the injury in the fourth quarter Saturday at Kansas.
Texas Tech has punted twice in three games. When Ryan Erxleben punted with 7:36 left in the fourth quarter against New Mexico, it ended a streak of 140 minutes, 42 seconds since Erxleben punted in Tech's opener against Northwestern State. "We actually were glad we didn't make the first down so we could work on our punt team," Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said. "It's something we are obviously going to have to do in Big 12 games."
When the Bob Stoops connection to Kansas State is mentioned, the first thought is the fact that Stoops was an assistant coach on Bill Snyder's staff when Snyder was building the program into a winner. But it turns out the Oklahoma coach has a connection to the Wildcats' Collin Klein. Stoops mentioned that when he was coaching at Kent State in 1988 one of his fellow staff members was Doug Klein, the father of K-State's senior quarterback. Doug Klein is now a financial consultant in Colorado.
Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville on his 3-0 team having Saturday off before starting Big 12 play at Iowa State on Sept. 29:
"I'd rather play this week. I think we're playing well and playing consistent. I would imagine if you'd ask (Iowa State coach) Paul Rhoads, he'd say the same thing. We tried to do it. It's a little bit early, to me, for an open date. We tried to move it to next week to kind of break it up, but we couldn't pull it off."
Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz on the Longhorns giving up big plays:
"When you put the film on, the film never says whether you win or lose. It's just a stack of plays you want to correct. Obviously, there are going to be some things we'll have to correct. I think now it's on our résumé that we'll give up big plays for touchdowns. No good defense can give up big plays for touchdowns."
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen on his team's tendency to let up in the second half of its two victories:
"We've done a good job of starting fast. Now we need to start faster in the second half and we need to finish people. We haven't done a good job of that. We let Marshall keep playing and we let James Madison keep playing and score late.''
Big 12, Big Numbers
In 22 non-conference victories, Big 12 teams have totaled 11,844 yards of offense, an average of 538.36 yards per game. In those 22 non-conference victories, Big 12 teams are averaging 7.17 yards per play.
Big 12 teams are averaging 44.5 points per game, almost 10 points a game more than the SEC's 34.8 per game. That's up from last season, when they led the nation by averaging 34.5 points, which set the league record and led the nation. The Big 12 has led the nation in scoring six of the last seven seasons.
The Big 12 is averaging 526.4 yards per game, up 16.1 percent from 2011 when it set an NCAA record with 453.3 yards per game.
Compared to peer conferences, the Big 12's scoring has been dominant. The Conference has scored 30 or more points in 87.5 percent of its games. Here's how scoring compares in the five major conferences:
|Conference||60-plus games||50-plus games||40-plus games||30-plus games|
|Big 12 (24 games)||4||10||15||21|
|SEC (29 games)||2||6||15||22|
|Big Ten (36 games)
|ACC (26 games)||2||6||10||15|
|Pac-12 (31 games)||2||8||13||16|