Eight weeks into a topsy-turvy season, we finally have a clear-cut leader in the race to be identified as the best college football team in Texas.
That honor, at least for this week, belongs to No. 14 Texas Tech (6-1, 3-1 in Big 12), the only FBS school in the Lone Star State that has made itself bowl-eligible this season. Others will follow. But the Red Raiders, a 5-7 team last season, got there first by edging TCU 56-53 in a triple-overtime thriller that should take some heat off embattled coach Tommy Tuberville.
No college coach in Texas began the season with more questions about his job security than Tuberville, whose squad has posted back-to-back victories over Top 25 teams in the BCS standings and will get a chance for a threepeat Saturday against No. 3 Kansas State (7-0, 4-0) in Manhattan, Kan. If Tech wins that one, the Red Raiders would be tied for first place in the Big 12 standings heading into November.
If not, the floor will re-open for nominations about the best college football team in the Lone Star State, with No. 20 Texas A&M (5-2), TCU (5-2) and No. 23 Texas (5-2) eligible to fight back to the top of the heap.
Tuberville points to quarterback Seth Doege, who has matched last year's total for touchdown passes (28) in just seven games, as a driving force in the team's turnaround. Doege, a fifth-year senior, ranks fifth nationally in passing efficiency (169.65 rating) and deflects some credit back in the direction of Tuberville and his staff.
"On the sideline [against TCU], you could tell that nobody had any thought of losing this game," Doege said after throwing for a career-high seven TDs against the Horned Frogs. "That's all credit to our coaches. No matter what hole we were in, we were always digging our way out of it. It's huge for us, because all we've been preaching is taking it to the next level ... and consistently beating big-time teams."
Also around the college football landscape:
Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein is your new Heisman Trophy front-runner, replacing West Virginia's Geno Smith, after throwing for a career-high 323 yards and accounting for seven TDs (4 rushing, 3 passing) in a 55-14 rout of Smith's Mountaineers. Klein was selected Sunday as the Walter Camp offensive player of the week.
The under-the-radar Heisman hopeful poised to make the best November surge is Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron. He leads the nation in passing efficiency (183.63 rating), has a 16-0 ratio of TD passes-to-interceptions and plays for the No. 1 Crimson Tide (7-0), a team unlikely to lose before Heisman ballots are due in December.
Midseason records and conference affiliations suggest one intriguing bowl possibility could be a matchup of rivals Texas (5-2) vs. Texas A&M (5-2) in the Cotton Bowl, Jan. 4 in Arlington.
Duke (6-2, 3-1 in ACC) officially is a football school after beating rival North Carolina 33-30 to move atop the league's Coastal Division standings. The Blue Devils meet No. 12 Florida State (7-1, 4-1) this week in what could be a preview of the ACC title game. Seriously.
Saturday's showdown in Norman, Okla., between No. 5 Notre Dame (7-0) and No. 8 Oklahoma (5-1) will eliminate the loser from the national title race. Too many good teams are ahead of both for the loser to rebound.
Why are unheralded Mississippi State (7-0) and Ohio (7-0) still among the nation's 11 undefeated FBS schools? They rank first and second nationally in turnover margin. MSU is plus-17. Ohio is plus-15.
Auburn's Gene Chizik could become the first coach to make a two-year journey from a BCS national title to the unemployment line if the Tigers (1-6, 0-5 in SEC) continue to flounder.
Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760