Best of Week 6: TCU-Kansas lives up to the hype, overshadows Red River


There’s a theory that suggests computing technology increases exponentially, and if that’s true, then there will come a time when artificial intelligence far surpasses human intelligence. And if that’s true, then logic might follow that some society has already reached that point, and as such, there is a hypothesis that our entire existence now is simply a computer simulation.

Until this week, simulation theory existed largely on the fringes of metaphysics, and most everyone agreed it could never be proven.

But then, on the same Saturday as the Red River game and the long-awaited showdown between Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban, the center of the college football world was instead in Lawrence, Kansas. That, friends, is an inarguable glitch in the matrix.

Imagine, back in May, when Fisher so eloquently told Nick Saban not to throw darts without glass in his house, that Texas A&MAlabama would be but an afterthought because Kansas was 5-0.

Imagine, back when Oklahoma fans welcomed home prodigal son Brent Venables with thunderous approval, that the Sooners’ showdown against Texas would be a lopsided embarrassment, with Oklahoma being shut out 49-0.

Imagine, when Texas landed Quinn Ewers and A&M signed the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, and Houston was hailed as a potential playoff party crasher, that instead, the unquestioned top team in Texas would be TCU.

Perhaps the truly wild part of this entirely impossible scenario is that Saturday’s TCU-Kansas showdown wasn’t overhyped. If anything, we massively underestimated how much drama the Frogs and Jayhawks could muster.

TCU’s one-time backup QB now looks like a Heisman contender. Max Duggan threw for 308 yards, ran for 55 more and accounted for four touchdowns. Every time Kansas steadied itself and got off the mat in the second half, Duggan delivered another haymaker, leading TCU to touchdowns on four of its last five drives of the game.

Meanwhile, the fairytale season at Kansas played out — well, like a fairytale on Saturday, when the Jayhawks traded their bellcow QB for a magic Bean. Jalon Daniels left the game near the end of the first half with an injured shoulder, turning over the reins to Jason Bean, who threw four second-half TD passes, leading the Jayhawks back from the brink of the abyss again and again down the stretch.

The second half of Saturday’s game saw Kansas erase leads of 10-3, 17-10, 24-17 and 31-24, and only a failed fourth-down conversion with 37 seconds remaining kept the Jayhawks from a chance to tie it at 38, too.

The game was decided not by inches, but margins undetectable by the world’s most powerful microscopes, as Derius Davis tiptoed the sideline for TCU and Quintin Skinner tapped his knee in the back of the end zone on a late score to keep Kansas alive.

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Quentin Skiner does a great job as he comes down inbounds for the Kansas’ touchdown as they tie it 31-31.

It was a battle rife with cinematic drama that not only warranted the title of Week 6’s best matchup, but will undoubtedly be in the conversation as one of the most entertaining games of the 2022 season.

And it happened at Kansas.

It happened at the same time Saban readied his team to deliver a long-awaited retort to Fisher’s blasphemy, at the same time Ewers turned the state fair into Oklahoma’s Dustbowl 2.0, a cloud of misery that John Steinbeck would’ve found too depressing for publication.

And yes, Kansas’ record is no longer unblemished. Reality — if that’s what we’re living in — had to return eventually. And no, TCU isn’t likely to overshadow college football’s behemoth’s for long. And yes, had Ewers been healthy all season, it might well be the Longhorns who are the talk of the sport now.

But for one magical afternoon, nothing in college football mattered as much or offered more drama than the happenings in Kansas. As the great Jasper Beardsley said, “What a time to be alive.”

That is, if we’re not all actually in a simulation.


Purdue finally fends off a comeback bid

The football gods had not been kind to Purdue to start the season. The Boilermakers led in the final minute of each of their first five games, only to see Penn State emerge with a four-point win on a TD with 57 seconds to play, and Syracuse to win by 2 on a TD with just seven seconds remaining.

It made for a somber backdrop as Taulia Tagovailoa hit Corey Dyches from 18 yards out for a potential game-tying touchdown with 35 seconds remaining Saturday at Maryland, but at long last, Purdue’s luck changed.

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Maryland scores a touchdown, then appears to haul in a game-tying 2-point conversion, but the play is called back and the Terps fail on their next attempt.

The Terps appeared to have tied the game on a two-point try in the back corner of the end zone, but the score was waved off due to a flag for an illegal man downfield (a penalty that has become college football’s equivalent of your buddy who kills everyone’s fun by refusing to split the check evenly because he only had a salad). Maryland’s second crack at the two-point try came up short, and Purdue escaped with a 31-29 win.

Purdue looks like the favorite now in the topsy-turvy Big Ten West, where the Boilermakers are tied for first with — surely this can’t be right? — Nebraska, among others, though no one from the division is ranked in the AP top 25. It’s nice to see that, while the Big Ten is stealing teams from the Pac-12, it only managed to steal the vibe of the ACC Coastal.


Victory bells for Leach’s Bulldogs

That unbearable clanging noise still ringing in your ears is simply the Mississippi State bandwagon rolling through SEC country.

Mike Leach’s crew dominated Arkansas 40-17 on Saturday, with Will Rogers setting the SEC record for career completions in the win, topping Aaron Murray’s previous mark of 921 in just his 28th career game.

Arkansas, which played without QB KJ Jefferson, it was a third straight loss, dooming a once-promising season to a 1-3 mark in SEC play.

For Mississippi State, it was a statement win for a multitude of reasons. The defense was stout, fending off all three of Arkansas’ fourth-down attempts, stuffing drives at its own 8, 29 and 37. The ground game excelled, too. While Leach typically throws the ball between 40 and 600 times per game, the Bulldogs actually racked up 173 yards and three touchdowns on the ground Saturday. It was the most rushing yards by a Leach-coached team since Washington State went for 253 against Cal in 2016.

And, of course, the Bulldogs still threw the ball with ease. Rogers finished with 395 passing yards and three TDs, including one to Caleb Ducking — who now has seven TD catches on the season, offering a rare opportunity for Mississippi State fans to actually intend to type the word “ducking” in text messages.

The party could come to a screeching halt over the next month, however, as Mississippi State goes to Kentucky and Alabama in back-to-back weeks before hosting Auburn and Georgia.


Big bets and bad beats

The magical start to Kansas’ season came to an end against TCU, but Jayhawks backers are still riding high. Kansas was a 7.5-point underdog at kickoff, and while it lost 38-31, that’s still a cover — the ninth straight for the Jayhawks dating back to last year’s 57-56 win over Texas. Since then, Kansas is 6-3, but all three losses have come by seven or less.



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