By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
• RISING: It’s been an amazing run for Oklahoma State. In two weeks, the Cowboys handed two Big 12 teams their first conference loss. Texas, now Baylor. The Cowboys’ 49-17 victory took the Bears out of the national title hunt as quarterback Clint Chelf passed for 370 yards and three touchdowns.
• FALLING: Back to the basement for Kansas. The Jayhawks followed their West Virginia victory that broke a 27-game conference losing streak with a 34-0 loss at Iowa State. The Cyclones needed this one. They were running out of games to claim their first Big 12 victory.
• RISING: How many reasons have we heard that Missouri shouldn’t be doing this? Not ready for SEC power, hasn’t played stronger West opponents… In their second season in the SEC, the Tigers are one victory away from the conference championship game after a 24-10 victory at Mississippi.
• FALLING: Florida has a standing reservation in this category. But the 26-20 loss to Georgia Southern was the worst of the year. Georgia Southern did this without completing a pass. Florida won’t be bowling for the first time since 1990, and coach Will Muschamp calls it “an embarrassment.” The Orlando Sentinel reported Sunday that Muschamp will return for 2014, citing sources close to the program.
• RISING: In a late-season Heisman chase, Boston College running back Andre Williams surpassed 200 yards for the third straight week, amassing 263 in the Eagles’ 29-26 victory over Maryland. Williams’ season total of 2,073 makes him the 16th player in major-college history to surpass 2,000 yards in a year.
• FALLING: Wake Forest gave it a great shot, but sizzling Duke prevailed 28-21. The Deacons got off to a stunning 14-0 start and threatened to burst the Blue Devils’ bubble. Instead, Wake suffered its seventh loss and won’t go bowling.
• RISING: Seems as if whenever the heat turns up on Nebraska’s Bo Pelini, the Cornhuskers come up with a big victory. Beating Penn State 23-20 on Pat Smith’s 42-yard field goal in overtime doesn’t qualify as a game-changer. But Nebraska is getting it done with reserve quarterbacks — and on the road.
• FALLING: Northwestern’s amazing slide continued with a 30-6 loss to Michigan State. That’s seven straight for the Wildcats, starting with the Ohio State game, when Northwestern led in the fourth quarter. The Spartans clinched the Legends Division and will meet the Buckeyes in the league title game.
• RISING: Great day for football in Arizona. Arizona State clinched a spot in the Pac-12 championship game against Stanford with a 38-33 triumph at UCLA. Sun Devils quarterback Taylor Kelly was sharp, completing 20 of 27. Arizona’s 42-16 home victory over Oregon was a bigger stunner. Wildcats running back Ka’Deem Carey rushed for 206 and four touchdowns.
• FALLING: Thankfully for Oregon State, bowl eligibility was clinched last month. The Beavers lost their fourth straight, 69-27 to Washington, and fell to 6-5. Oregon State has been a product of its schedule, in which the back half is loaded with the ranked opponents.
• RISING: Cincinnati is on fire. The Bearcats won their sixth straight, 24-17 over Houston, as quarterback Brandon Kay passed for 387 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for another. The Bearcats remained a game behind Central Florida in the American standings.
• FALLING: Temple was in a position to keep Connecticut winless, leading the Huskies by three touchdowns at halftime. But the Owls couldn’t hang on and fell 28-21.
• RISING: East Carolina took out its second state opponent on the road in a big way, this time 42-28 over North Carolina State. Earlier this season, the Pirates won at North Carolina 55-31. Saturday’s victory in Raleigh marked the first time East Carolina beat both state rivals in the same season.
• FALLING: Misery continued at Florida International, a 48-10 loser to Marshall. The loss dropped the Golden Panthers to 1-10 with a trip to Florida Atlantic on Friday that closes the season. Seven times this season, Florida International has scored 10 points or fewer.
To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.