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College Confidential: TCU-Baylor steals spotlight from Red River Showdown

Star-Telegram writers Jimmy Burch and Carlos Mendez sound off on the issues of the day each week in College Confidential at star-telegram.com:

TCU has taken the express lane to the top 10 of The Associated Press college football poll by beating Oklahoma. How will the ninth-ranked Horned Frogs (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) handle their new neighborhood Saturday against No. 5 Baylor (5-0, 2-0)?

Jimmy: I expect them to play well, but it’s hard to envision the Horned Frogs closing out top-10 opponents in consecutive weeks. I believe Baylor protects its home turf (barely), but it’s no fluke that TCU coach Gary Patterson is 4-2 in career matchups against the Bears.

Carlos: Fine, I bet. This is a mature group, Patterson keeps saying. But better than that, it’s a mature group with a good defense. Defenses travel, and games like this require one.

Texas (2-3, 1-1) stunned Oklahoma (4-1, 1-1) as a double-digit underdog in last year’s Red River Rivalry. The Longhorns will be back in the same situation Saturday, but with lots of fresh faces on the sideline at the Cotton Bowl. How will they fare in their first trip to the fair under new coach Charlie Strong?

Jimmy: Last season, Texas defied the odds because its seniors hungered to end a three-game losing streak in the series. The Longhorns rallied around an embattled coach (Mack Brown), and a senior quarterback (Case McCoy) played the best game of his college career. None of those factors are in play Saturday. Oklahoma rolls after last week’s loss to TCU.

Carlos: Not too well. Texas has enough defense to be respectable. But there’s just no offense on the Forty Acres. Such a mystery.

The state of Mississippi has become the epicenter of the college football landscape in recent weeks, based on high-profile upsets pulled by Ole Miss (5-0, 2-0 SEC) and Mississippi State (5-0, 2-0), two teams that share the No. 3 spot in this week’s AP poll. Which one is the bigger threat to win an SEC West Division title?

Jimmy: The eyeball test suggests Mississippi State, as long as quarterback Dak Prescott remains healthy. But I’m going with Ole Miss because the Rebels already have a victory over Alabama and remaining home games against Auburn (Nov. 1) and Mississippi State (Nov. 29). Those home games will help Ole Miss rebound from Saturday’s upcoming loss at No. 14 Texas A&M (yes, I smell an upset).

Carlos: Mississippi State is the more complete team. It’s built the right way — quarterback, running game, defense. Problem is, the Bulldogs have no experience going through this schedule as the hunted. They will make mistakes, but they cannot afford them.

It’s almost midseason and we’re coming off one of the biggest weeks for upsets in college football history. How would your projection for the four participants in the inaugural College Football Playoff bracket look if the season ended today?

Jimmy: It’s entirely different than last week. But my top seeds today, in order, would be Auburn, Florida State, Mississippi State and Baylor.

Carlos: Today, it’s Florida State, Auburn, Mississippi State and Notre Dame. Today, you hold Baylor’s schedule against it. Saturday night, you might not.

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