It’s 10:30 Eastern Time on Saturday night and the college football world is upside down and hanging, like one of those Flying Dutchman rides at the fair. Kansas State, first in the BCS, is down 38-24 to Baylor. Oregon, second in the BCS, 55-points-a-game Oregon, has just missed a field goal and is up just 14-7 on Stanford.
In South Bend, Touchdown Jesus is doing jumping jacks. In Tuscaloosa and Athens, they move from the keg to the TV, or move the TV closer to the keg. Across the country, our thumbs are already sore.
CLICK Baylor’s Glasco Martin runs it in from 15 yards out and now it’s 45-24. Still the third quarter. BREAKING NEWS: Baylor is good at scoring. This year the Bears have put up 63 on West Virginia, 50 on Texas and 34 on Oklahoma. They lost all three games. But Kansas State can’t keep up. K-State is built on building leads and holding on. Their grip is gone.
CLICK Stanford’s Jordan Williamson misses a 43-yard field goal with 8:05 left. This game is the opposite of Baylor-Kansas State, and the opposite of every other Oregon game this season. The FEWEST POINTS Oregon has scored this year is 43. But now every point is precious. Stanford has stuffed Kenjon Barner, who ran for 321 against USC. Quarterback Marcus Mariota broke one long run, but Oregon turned the ball over on downs. Stanford is so close. But the field goal goes wide.
CLICK Baylor intercepts Klein in the end zone. On the first play, Lache Seastrunk takes it up the middle 80 yards for a touchdown to make it 52-24, the sprinkles on the cherry on the whipped cream on the icing. Notable: Lache Seastrunk is a transfer from Oregon. Also notable: Baylor’s two top backs are Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin. I believe they were also the rhythm section for the Gap Band.
Collin Klein is on the K-State sidelines, talking on a phone that has OFFENSE in huge letters on the receiver. I assume the phone that says DEFENSE was dropped down a toilet somewhere. The Baylor fans are dying to rush the field. It is still the third quarter.
CLICK “BCS chaos. You can’t beat it in November, folks.” -- Brent Musburger, who says that just before this happens:
First and goal at the Oregon 10. Stanford QB Kevin Hogan lofts one toward tight end Zach Ertz. He catches it. Or maybe he does not. A foot, then his right shoulder, land in the end zone. But maybe he bobbles the ball. On the field, it’s ruled incomplete. But now it is under review. It’s only been since 2006 that all of college football had instant replay review. Is this the most important review in college football history so far? I think it is.
After further review: Touchdown, Stanford. It’s 14-14. Chaos reigns across the land.
CLICK Collin Klein gets stonewalled on fourth and goal from the Baylor 1.
CLICK Oregon can’t move it. Stanford runs one play, gets called for holding, kneels. Overtime.
Stanford wins the toss, chooses defense.
CLICK K-State runs one last hopeless play and the Baylor fans finally get to rush the field. It’s the first time a team with a sub-.500 record (Baylor was 4-5) has beaten the No. 1 team in the BCS. The whole game, it looked like Baylor QB Nick Florence was sporting a Magnum, P.I.-level mustache. But now, doing interviews with his helmet off, he’s got the full beard going, too. Tonight, he is the handsomest man in Waco.
And at 11:25 p.m. Eastern Time, unofficially, Oregon is the No. 1 team in the country.
CLICK So what does Oregon, the Formula One car of college football, do in its overtime possession? A run for minus-2. A run for 3. An incomplete pass. Alejandro Maldonado comes on for the field goal. It bangs off the left upright and falls like a tear.
Stanford gets the ball and immediately almost blows it. On second down Hogan scrambles and fumbles, and it looks as if every player dives on the pile. Somewhere in there, a Stanford lineman hugs the ball. Two plays later, Jordan Williamson comes out for the 37-yard field goal to win it.
On Jan. 2, Williamson missed a 35-yarder on the last play of regulation in the Fiesta Bowl. Then he missed a 43-yarder in overtime. Oklahoma State’s kicker made his field goal, and Stanford lost. It was Andrew Luck’s last college game.
“It's something you won't forget, but it's something that you have to use to motivate you,” Williamson told the Associated Press in August. “It's just one of those things that heal with time.”
It’s 11:35 p.m. In the Fiesta Bowl, Williamson missed his field goals to the left. Now the ball is on the left hashmark. He follows through and looks up. The ball curls inside the left upright.
Kansas State was No. 1 in the BCS for one week. Oregon was unofficially No. 1 for 10 minutes. In Waco they’re still dancing on the field. In Eugene, those poor kids painted chartreuse are crying.
Why do we keep clicking? For nights like this, when the Flying Dutchman rocks and swings and flips us over. Just one ride, and now the whole world looks different.
* * *