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Winners and losers: Baylor is the new standard in offensive production

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(USA Today Sports Images)

If you wondered if Baylor's offensive explosion would continue once Big 12 play started, yes, yes it did. A year after losing to West Virginia 70-63 in Morgantown, the Bears almost matched last year's total in the first half.

Baylor scored 56 points in the first half of its rout of the Mountaineers. If that's not absurd enough, the Bears racked up 617 yards of offense in that first half split between 342 passing and 275 yards rushing and became the first team since 1930 to score 70 or more points in three straight games in its 73-42 win.

It's time to anoint Baylor as the outright favorite for the Big 12 conference. Despite the upset win over Oklahoma State, we're still not sold on West Virginia. After all, this is a team that lost 37-0 to a Maryland team that just lost 63-0 to Florida State on Saturday. But the Mountaineers aren't the worst team in the conference.

And yes, Oklahoma has a case to that favorite status too, but you don't get to argue too much against a juggernaut offense after beating TCU 20-17 at home. Need proof of how ridiculous it is?

Before being replaced by Seth Russell in the second half, Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty was a cool 17-25 for 342 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Running back Lache Seastrunk had 15 carries for 172 yards and two touchdowns. This is a team that can do it all on offense. You can't say that with confidence about anyone else in the Big 12 right now.

WINNERS:

Missouri: Quick, who's the other team outside of Alabama in the SEC that's currently undefeated? Yup, it's the Tigers, who throttled Vanderbilt in Nashville 51-28 to move to 5-0. After a miserable, injury-laden 5-7 season last year, Mizzou is healthy, especially on the offensive line.

That's shown in the balance the Tigers have had throughout the season and on Saturday night. James Franklin -- the Missouri quarterback, not the Vanderbilt coach -- threw for 278 yards and Mizzou ran for 245 more, including 63 from Franklin.

Mizzou isn't flashy despite being in the top 10 in the country in scoring offense, but after being a preseason favorite for fifth or sixth in the East, a top three finish isn't crazy. And suddenly, Mizzou's trip to Athens on Saturday may be the SEC game of the week.

This security guard, however, was unfortunately not a winner. After being hit by Missouri's Marcus Murphy, he was taken out of Vanderbilt Stadium on a stretcher.

Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia: For the second consecutive week, Murray had a career-defining drive by marching his team down the field in the final minutes against Tennessee and throwing a game-tying touchdown with 13 seconds left. His team would go on to win 34-31 in overtime. Murray made himself a Heisman Trophy candidate with his play against LSU a week ago, but made sure people didn’t think it was a fluke with his drive this week.

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State: It seems like every week Winston does something that draws “Ooos” and “Ahhhs” from anyone watching, but his performance against Maryland was really something to behold. Maryland was supposed to be Florida State’s toughest opponent to-date, but Winston dismantled the Terps defense like it was a middle school team. He completed 71.9 percent of his passes for 393 yards and five touchdowns and officially solidified his spot in the Heisman race.

Rutgers: Yes, it's complicated, but Rutgers goes here after almost choking away the win at SMU. First, Rutgers gave away a 15-point fourth quarter lead (including this awesome two-point conversion from SMU to tie the game), and then with the Scarlet Knights driving for a game winning score, quarterback Gary Nova fumbled. It had all the earmarkings of a fluky loss.

But after trading scores in the first two OT periods, Rutgers held SMU to a field goal in the third and Justin Goodwin subsequently scampered in for a 17 yard game-winning score.

LOSERS:

Northwestern: The university did a great job with its first Gameday hosting appearance since 1995, but its chances of capping the day in Evanston off with a win against Ohio State disappeared with a dropped snap.

On fourth and one with less than 3 minutes left and trailing 34-30, Northwestern quarterback Kain Coulter fumbled the snap on a quarterback sneak. He got the ball back and made an effort to get forward, but was ultimately stopped short.

And to pile on, Northwestern's last ditch hook-and-lateral play at the end of the game went horribly wrong and Ohio State fell on the ball in the end zone for a backdoor cover and a 40-30 win. The Buckeyes were 6.5 point favorites, and you could hear the desperation in Northwestern alum Brent Musberger's voice.

Big 12 officiating: There have been some major officiating gaffes this season and the Big 12 can add their officials to that list. During the Texas-Iowa State game Thursday, officials failed to call a clear fumble, which ultimately cost Iowa State an upset. ISU coach Paul Rhoads had some choice words about the officiating after the game and rightfully so. This is the second game this season where poor officiating in the waning minutes cost a team a win.

Virginia: When you're a major conference team with bowl aspirations, you can't lose to a MAC team at home. And Virginia broke that commandment. Badly. After being tied 24-24 with Ball State in the third quarter, the Cavaliers were subsequently outscored 24-3 and lost 48-27.

Virginia was penalized 13 times to Ball State's one, and after beating BYU, had legitimate Bowl hopes, especially as its two losses coming into Saturday were to Oregon and a much-improved Pitt team. This hampers them severely, though a win at Maryland next week would start them back up again. And make the ACC behind Florida State and Clemson a whole ball of wackiness.

Kansas: The Jayhawks rocked the red throwback helmets and immediately jumped out to a 10-0 lead over Texas Tech. Could Kansas' 21-game Big 12 losing streak be coming to an end? No. Not even close.

Tech promptly scored 54 unanswered points, perhaps spurred by an ill-advised Kansas fake punt, en route to a 54-16 win. Now the streak is at 22 and counting, with games against West Virginia and Iowa State looking like the Jayhawks' only two possibilities of winning conference games.

Southern Miss: Speaking of losing streaks, it's time to talk about Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles were 17-point favorites to Florida International despite their 16 game losing streak. And not only did they fail to cover, they lost straight up, 24-23. That's just depressing, especially when you remember that FIU was the team that had a running clock in its game against Louisville.

Special mention goes to the people who went to the game. You're in the winners section in our hearts.

BONUS LOSERS:

Lane Kiffin and Matt Leinart: Where do unemployed former members of USC football go on Saturdays? Apparently, Venice Beach. Perhaps we're wrong in placing these two former Trojans in the loser category. I mean, they are spending their Saturday at the beach in October.

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(insidesocal.com)

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Graham Watson contributed to this post

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