Four-down territory: Mizzou has one foot out of the Big 12
Let's take a look at what's happening across the nation on this Wednesday morning...
• Following a four-hour closed-door Board of Curators meeting Tuesday in St. Louis, Missouri essentially told the world of college athletics that it is not long for the Big 12 conference. The board gave chancellor Brady Deaton the authority to explore all options for conference affiliation in the best interests of the university. Which, based on various reports last month, could mean the Tigers are primed to be the 14th team in the SEC with Texas A&M's addition now official. Despite Texas and Oklahoma pledging their allegiance to the Big 12, Missouri's refusal to commit either in the short or long term makes it difficult for the Big 12 to move forward with expansion plans of its own. And if you're a school such as BYU, Louisville or West Virginia -- schools mentioned as potential new Big 12 members -- it's awfully difficult to ponder such a move when the conference remains fractured.
ICONAir Force QB Tim Jefferson poses a real threat to the Notre Dame defense.
• One game I'm most looking forward to this weekend is the Air Force-Notre Dame clash in South Bend. The Fighting Irish are coming off of their most complete performance of the season in a win at Purdue and could be poised to go on a serious run as they eye an outside chance at a BCS game. But standing in their way is Troy Calhoun's Falcons squad, which has a balanced offensive attack led by quarterback Tim Jefferson. The senior has completed 70 percent of his passes for 493 yards and five touchdowns against two interceptions on the year. Sacked just once thus far and with more than 200 rushing yards, Jefferson leads a Falcons attack that ranks fourth in the nation in passing efficiency. It's a big test for Brian Kelly's squad, especially after falling victim to Tulsa and Navy last year.
• If you're BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall, I'm not sure you can keep Riley Nelson on the sideline after he helped direct a fourth-quarter comeback last week to rally the Cougars from an 11-point deficit to the 27-24 win over Utah State. I don't think the Cougars will go back to a two-quarterback system, so Jake Heaps' struggles may keep him on the bench unless Nelson falters. The junior recorded 206 yards of total offense in four drives last week, completing 10 of 14 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns. He added 62 yards on the ground, giving the Cougars another dimension on offense.
• Which quarterback leads the SEC in pass efficiency, passing yards, total offense and touchdown passes? If you answered Tennessee's Tyler Bray, you would be correct. The sophomore has tossed 14 touchdowns this season, giving him 32 over his past 10 games dating back to last fall. He will be without receiver Justin Hunter the rest of the season, which will remain a big loss, but the Vols have enough firepower to light up scoreboards the rest of the season. And Georgia has a tough test this weekend when Mark Richt's squad travels to Knoxville in a huge SEC East tilt.
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