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Beyond the Fort: Replacing Rodney Anderson, Gundy’s latest antics, and a new frontier at Baylor?

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There’s a lot to talk about as we enter perhaps the biggest weekend yet of the 2018 college football season.

UCLA v Oklahoma Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

You aren’t dreaming. TCU football really is going up against The Ohio State University this Saturday evening in Arlington. And yes, College GameDay really is setting up shop on TCU’s campus for a second straight year, even though there won’t be any football played at the adjacent Amon G. Carter Stadium.

Week 3 is a big week for the sport, and needless to say, both the Horned Frogs and Buckeyes have stolen most of the headlines already. From the 2014 playoff controversy to former Ohio State president Gordon Gee’s “little sisters of the poor” comments way back in 2010, it’s not too often that you find a regular season matchup as compelling as the one that will soon take place between two Top-15 teams at AT&T Stadium.

And the rest of the Big 12? Don’t forget about it, because there’s plenty to chat about on that front. As we reach the mid-way point of the week, let’s take some time to do so.

What’s next for the Oklahoma backfield?

No matter who you may cheer for, there’s no other way to put it than that Rodney Anderson injury news absolutely stinks. Sure, the Sooners’ tailback may have shredded up the TCU defense last November in Norman, but the junior is among one of the most talented and fun-to-watch tailbacks in all of college football. And the knee injury which he suffered vs. UCLA last Saturday is a major shakeup for not just the Sooners, but the entire Big 12. It’s also, unbelievably, the third season-ending injury he’s sustained since arriving to Norman, Okla.

The obvious choice for Anderson’s primary replacement is sophomore Trey Sermon, who rushed for 744 yards as a freshman in 2017 and was Oklahoma’s primary man in the backfield before Anderson emerged several games into the season. So yes, Oklahoma still has talent. But at the end of the day, it’s hard to replace a leader like Anderson, and that only creates a bigger task for first-year starting quarterback Kyler Murray.

How will they respond? Saturday’s road-trip to Iowa State — a team that shocked the Sooners in Norman last October — should be a decent indicator of Oklahoma’s identity going forward.

Gundy just keeps winning

Yes, Oklahoma State is also undefeated on a literal note (albeit just 2-0). But if there was any type of poll that ranked coaches’ performances at their weekly press conferences, Mike Gundy would be the clear-cut leader.

Pet dog on hand? Check. Wishing there was vodka in his smoothie? Uh, check.

Busting out a referee shirt mid-press conference? Check. Make him three-for-three.

No, it’s not a Big 12 refs joke. Rather, it’s Gundy’s way of getting everyone excited for Oklahoma State’s “Stripe the Stadium” game vs. Boise State on Saturday — which just happens to be a G5 vs. P5 top-25 showdown in Stillwater.

So, what antic will we be in store for next Monday when Gundy takes the podium? We’re all as curious as you are. From what we’ve seen so far, don’t expect to be disappointed either.

Baylor finally embracing the big boys

You’ve heard it time after time. “Baylor never schedules anybody in non-conference.”

Well guess, what? Matt Rhule and the Bears will welcome a Power 5 opponent that doesn’t hail from the Big 12 this weekend when Duke pays a visit to McLane Stadium in Waco — the second-leg of a home-and-home series that began in Durham, N.C. last September.

But to the point about Baylor habitually opting for cupcakes in non-conference play — Unbelievably, this is will be the first time since 2008 that the Bears have hosted a Power 5 opponent in non-conference play. I hasn’t happened since No. 23 Wake Forest visited the now-defunct Floyd Casey Stadium in Week 1 that year. And only twice — Wake Forest the

following year and Duke last September — has Baylor faced a non-conference Power 5 opponent on the road.

That’s right. It all adds up to a mere three non-conference Power 5 oppnents in the last decade. Make it four come Saturday. TCU in perspective, has faced a Power 5 opponent in non-conference play every season since joining the Power 5 ranks itself in 2012. Here’s a recap:

  • 2012: Virginia
  • 2013: LSU (AT&T Stadium)
  • 2014: Minnesota
  • 2015: At Minnesota
  • 2016: Arkansas
  • 2017: At Arkansas
  • 2018: Ohio State (AT&T Stadium)

Of course, more non-conference matchups of such are starting to become more frequent for Baylor. The Bears have home-and-home series with Utah, Auburn, Oregon and independent BYU all scheduled down the road, in addition to a matchup with Ole Miss in 2020. All of those meetings will be complete by the end of the 2029 campaign.

Needless to say, times are changing. Alas, Baylor’s history remains one heck of a stat, and one that isn’t exactly something to brag about.