College confidential: Which coach has had the best season?

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Jimmy Burch and Stefan Stevenson sound off on the issues of the day in college football in College Confidential at star-telegram.com.

Heading into November, we’ve got three schools from Texas in the mix for a Big 12 football title (Baylor, Texas, Texas Tech). Texas A&M is a candidate for an at-large berth in a BCS bowl. At this point, which college football coach in Texas has had the best season?

Jimmy: The best answer might be Texas defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, a September hire who has turned things around under duress in Austin. But these honors typically go to head football coaches, and they should. By the end of the year, I think the easy answer will be Baylor coach Art Briles. But based on accomplishments to this point, I’ve been most impressed by Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury in his debut season. If the Red Raiders knock off Baylor, Kingsbury is my Big 12 coach of the year. If not, Briles rules.

Stefan: Kingsbury has done an amazing job in his first year, but when it’s over I think Baylor will be the team that continues to roll and Briles will deserve the honor. He’ll gladly share any accolades with defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, who has helped build a much better Bears’ defense in the last couple of seasons.

TCU has quarterback Casey Pachall back in the lineup. But at 3-5, the Horned Frogs must pick up the pace to qualify for a bowl berth. Are these Frogs headed to the postseason?

Jimmy: I don’t think so. The defense is terrific but after eight games, TCU still lacks a consistent offensive spark regardless of who plays quarterback. And the Frogs had better win their next three, because I don’t see them beating Baylor on Nov. 30 to become bowl-eligible.

Stefan: Yeah, before the season, and even a few weeks in, I would have predicted TCU would play Baylor close on Nov. 30. But there’s no reason to think the offense will improve enough to keep up with Baylor. And even with a good defensive game against the Bears, that could still mean Baylor scores 30 points. Unless Pachall performs a miracle, I don’t see the Frogs scoring more than 30 points.

At least one more undefeated team will lose this week when No. 3 Florida State (7-0) meets No. 7 Miami (7-0). No. 6 Baylor (7-0) is idle, so the Bears cannot lose. Can you make a case for Baylor being the last undefeated team standing at the end of the regular season?

Jimmy: A case can be made, but not a good one. With the eight remaining undefeated teams spread across seven different conferences, it’s hard to imagine there won’t be multiple unbeaten teams remaining at the end of the regular season.

Stefan: I think Oregon has the best chance if it gets by at Stanford this week. The Ducks should have no problem beating Utah, Arizona and Oregon State the rest of the way. I’d be more shocked by an Oregon loss than Alabama losing to LSU or Auburn. I think Baylor will lose a game, perhaps to Oklahoma Nov. 7, at Oklahoma State Nov. 23 or against Texas Dec. 7.

We’ve still got lots of contenders in the BCS National Championship race. Which team hoists the final crystal football of the BCS era in January?

Jimmy: I’m going with Oregon. The Ducks have the offensive firepower to take down top-ranked Alabama in the title game. They also are strong enough on defense to finish the job and stop the SEC’s streak of seven consecutive BCS titles.

Stefan: I think Jimmy’s onto something. How do you slow down that offense? Same question we’ve been asking about Baylor. It looks impossible.

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