As we start to get a glimpse of the finish line in a crazy college football season, here are a few items you can take to the bank and some others to track during the November stretch run:
No. 5 Baylor (8-0, 5-0 Big 12) and North Texas (7-3, 5-1 in Conference USA), the state’s only green-clad FBS schools, are both bowl-eligible and control their destinies in their respective league championship races. If both close with conference titles, it will be the first time that has happened in the same season since 1994, when Baylor shared the Southwest Conference title and UNT claimed the Southland Conference championship.
Even more rare: Both teams project to receive bowl bids in the same season for the first time since 1948. The 1948 season marks the only time Baylor and UNT played in bowl games in the same year: Baylor defeated Wake Forest 20-7 in the Dixie Bowl. UNT fell to Nevada 13-6 in the Salad Bowl.
Both polls are part of the BCS formula and, as of Sunday, Baylor trails No. 3 Ohio State (9-0) by only 25 points in the coaches’ poll and 69 points in the Harris poll. If similar separation remains on ballots through Dec. 8, Baylor may jump Ohio State in the final BCS standings because the Bears will receive a spike in their computer rankings from late-season matchups against Texas Tech (7-3), No. 12 Oklahoma State (8-1) and No. 24 Texas (7-2).
Ohio State’s lone remaining opponent with a winning record is Michigan (6-3), although the Buckeyes could meet No. 16 Michigan State (8-1) in the Big Ten championship game.
After the loss in Waco, Quinn said of Baylor: “They are deserving to be in the top five right now, in my opinion. I felt good about last week’s game against Ohio State, but… we weren’t even close to the way I felt we would hold up against Baylor.”
Baylor men’s basketball coach Scott Drew understands the significance of what football coach Art Briles’ team is doing. Drew, who has led the Bears to a pair of Elite Eight finishes and watched the women’s team win two national titles in the past decade, said Briles’ squad has captured the campus’ attention like no other team he has seen. Particularly during Thursday’s 41-12 rout of then-No. 10 Oklahoma.
“I can tell you we’ve never been more excited about a sport at Baylor,” Drew said after Friday’s 72-60 victory over Colorado. “The whole school is excited about our football team. All our voices were hoarse [Friday] from all the yelling.”