• Big 12 takes center stage as Oklahoma visits unbeaten Baylor

    By: STEVE MEGARGEE, AP Sports Writer

    Updated:

    Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts has plenty at stake this week as he nears the end of his eventful college career.

    He reached the College Football Playoff championship game each of his three seasons at Alabama, whether he was starting or backing up Tua Tagovailoa. His hopes of getting back to the playoff with his new school could vanish if No. 10 Oklahoma loses at No. 12 Baylor on Saturday.

    A big performance against Baylor would boost Hurts' Heisman Trophy candidacy.

    Oklahoma and Baylor aren't the only teams putting their playoff hopes on the line this week. No. 5 Georgia (No. 4 CFP ) seeks to avoid a second loss and maintain likely control of its playoff destiny when it visits No. 13 Auburn (No. 12 CFP).

    GAME OF THE WEEK

    Oklahoma (8-1, 5-1 Big 12, No. 10 CFP) at Baylor (9-0, 6-0, No. 13 CFP)

    There's a decent chance each team is facing a must-win situation Saturday in regard to its playoff hopes. No team with two losses has ever made the playoff, so Oklahoma probably wouldn't make the four-team field if it lost to Baylor but rallied to win the Big 12 title. Baylor's soft nonconference schedule makes it difficult for the Bears to reach the playoff unless they go unbeaten.

    If the Bears keep this game close, they have reason to feel confident. Baylor has won by eight points or less in five of its last seven games, including overtime victories over Texas Tech and TCU.

    HEISMAN WATCH

    It's hard to envision anyone other than LSU quarterback Joe Burrow winning this award after he outdueled Tagovailoa in a 46-41 victory over No. 4 Alabama (No. 5 CFP). Of course, Tagovailoa seemed like the favorite at this point last year before Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray overtook him.

    One guy who could emerge if Burrow slips up is Hurts, who leads the nation in passer rating. Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields carries a 27-1 touchdown-interception ratio into the second-ranked Buckeyes' game Saturday at Rutgers.

    Another player to watch is Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan, who ranks fourth in passer rating. If Morgan leads the seventh-ranked Gophers (No. 8 CFP) to a victory at No. 23 Iowa, his candidacy could start to pick up steam.

    NUMBERS GAME

    0 - Rushing touchdowns allowed this season by Georgia. The only Southeastern Conference teams to ever go an entire season without allowing a touchdown run are Tennessee in 1939 and Mississippi in 1963.

    5 - Consecutive victories for No. 21 Navy. The Midshipmen play at No. 16 Notre Dame seeking to win six straight games within the same season for the first time since 1978 (Navy had an eight-game winning streak that started in 2014 and ran through 2015).

    50 - Career touchdown runs for Clemson's Travis Etienne. He's two touchdowns away from matching the Atlantic Coast Conference owned by former Pittsburgh star James Conner.

    115 - Years since Minnesota last started a season 9-0. The Gophers went 13-0 in 1904.

    198 - Combined starts by the offensive linemen for No. 6 Oregon (No. 6 CFP). That's the highest total for any Football Bowl Subdivision offensive line.

    UNDER THE RADAR

    Louisiana Tech (8-1, 5-0 Conference USA) at Marshall (6-3, 4-1): This Friday night game features two of the hottest teams in Conference USA. Louisiana Tech has won eight consecutive games since a season-opening loss to No 22 Texas. Marshall has won four straight.

    Texas (6-3, 4-2 Big 12, No. 19 CFP) at Iowa State (5-4, 3-3): This Big 12 matchup is getting overshadowed by the Oklahoma-Baylor showdown. Iowa State just fell 42-41 at Oklahoma and has lost four games by a total of 11 points. Is this the week the Cyclones finally win a close one?

    Appalachian State (8-1, 4-1 Sun Belt, No. 25 CFP) at Georgia State (6-3, 3-2): Appalachian State beat South Carolina last week. Georgia State stunned Tennessee in the season's opening week. Appalachian State has a one-game lead in the Sun Belt Conference's East Division over Georgia State and Georgia Southern, which beat the Mountaineers two weeks ago.

    HOT SEAT WATCH

    Now that Florida State has fired Willie Taggart and Arkansas has dismissed Chad Morris, other struggling second-year coaches have reason to wonder about their long-term futures.

    That includes Arizona's Kevin Sumlin, who owns a 9-12 record and will carry a four-game losing streak to Oregon this week. Rice's Mike Bloomgren is 2-20 overall and 0-9 this season heading into Saturday's game at Middle Tennessee, though he inherited a program coming off a 1-11 campaign.

    Nebraska figures to remain patient with Scott Frost based on his storied playing career with the Huskers as well as his successful track record at Central Florida, but he eventually will need to start showing progress. Nebraska (4-5, 2-4 Big Ten) opened the year in the Top 25 but appears headed toward a second straight losing season as it gets ready to host No. 15 Wisconsin (7-2, 4-2, No. 14 CFP).

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