Brown takes a Chance, gets a win

I've never been in favor of quarterback rotations that are predetermined based on number of plays or number of series -- something that hurts the continuity of the offense and does not allow either quarterback to get into the rhythm of the game -- but there is something to be said for making a change if the flow of the game and strengths of the backup call for it.

Texas coach Mack Brown deserves credit for inserting Chance Mock into the lineup with just over 2:00 remaining against Texas Tech, and Mock deserves credit for leading the Longhorns to the game-winning touchdown in a 43-40 shootout. Still, it should not be forgotten that starter Vincent Young is athletically gifted and gives Texas the best chance to win on a week-to-week basis. There should not be a controversy in Austin because Young is clearly the best long-term solution.

Texas has grown as a team since a 65-13 drubbing at the hands of Oklahoma. The running game has averaged just over 268 yards per game in the five games since the Red Rive Shootout and the defense has improved, but it should also be pointed out that this growth has occurred against teams like Iowa State, Baylor and a struggling Nebraska program. The rise in the polls and the BCS standings is not a surprise, but don't forget how the Horns got there.

Kudos to Kirk
Maybe it's time Iowa's Kirk Ferentz got some recognition as a coach of the year candidate in the Big Ten.

The Hawkeyes lost the Heisman Trophy runner-up at quarterback, four of the linemen who protected him and a tight end who was a first-round pick after last year's Orange Bowl season, and also had to deal with the distraction of Ferentz's name coming up in discussions about vacant NFL jobs. Injuries haven't made things any easier this year, especially on offense, yet Iowa sits at 8-3 after a 40-22 win over Minnesota.

Ferentz should be commended for keeping his team together and his program headed in the right direction. Don't forget, it wasn't too long ago that people around Iowa thought he might have been the wrong choice. The Hawkeyes had as much of a chance at former Iowa assistant Bob Stoops as anyone, and a slow start for Ferentz combined with early success for Stoops had alumni and fans restless.

Looking back over the last couple of seasons, though, Ferentz has shown himself to be a coach in the same class as Stoops.

Mountaineer turnaround
West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez has done a marvelous job turning his team round after a 1-4 start. The Mountaineers outplayed Miami in that fourth loss and set the stage for their current five-game winning streak, which has included convincing wins over Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh.

West Virginia has lost numerous starters to injury this season yet are still finding a way to win games, most recently a 52-31 win over Pitt that put the Mountaineers within reach of the Big East championship. A Pittsburgh win over Miami on Nov. 29 would give West Virginia the outright crown.

Rodriguez has brought the running game to the forefront at West Virginia, using highly-underrated back Quincy Wilson to dominate teams on the ground, and the unconventional 3-3-5 defense the Mountaineers run is underappreciated as well. There has been a lot of talk about Pittsburgh being the class of the new Big East, but the Panthers and everyone else left in the wake of realignment better watch out for West Virginia.

What does TCU deserve?
First and foremost, the way TCU has played on its way to 10-0 demands attention. The nation can't help but notice the what Gary Patterson's team is doing, but you also have to take into consideration how the Horned Frogs have stayed unbeaten.

The mid-major Frogs have two wins over teams from BCS conferences, but those came against SEC doormat Vanderbilt and Pac-10 cellar dweller Arizona, which took TCU to overtime before giving in. If you are one of the people blowing TCU's horn ask yourself this: As an objective observer, would you pick TCU to beat two-loss BCS teams like Georgia, Michigan, Tennessee or Texas?

TCU is now feeling the same pressure teams like Oklahoma feel every week. The Frogs are wearing the bulls eye because every team in Conference USA is trying to knock off the big kid on the block, and Cincinnati put a heck of a scare into them last week. That weight only becomes heavier this week as they head to Southern Miss for a Thursday night game on ESPN.

Does TCU deserve a spot in the BCS? Not any more than other teams from non-BCS leagues, but the Horned Frogs at least deserve the chance they have. The BCS formula makes them eligible for one of the big bowls if they remain in the top 12 of the BCS standings, which at this point is certainly within reason.

So don't worry, the opportunity is there. And should the Fiesta Bowl decide TCU's story makes good sense for business then the Horned Frogs deserve everything they can get. But to say the mid-major leagues deserve an automatic representative is not the answer.

And while we're on the subject of mid-majors, let me say that Miami (Ohio) looks like the best non-BCS team out there right now. The RedHawks lost their season-opener to Iowa after a subpar performance from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but they have reeled off nine straight wins since then, including consecutive wins over Bowling Green and Marshall by a combined score of 78-16. Miami also deserved to be in this conversation.

One-man show at Mizzou
Offenses around the country are spreading teams out and looking for favorable matchups in open space for their best athletes. Missouri has used that philosophy to maximize the ability of quarterback Brad Smith and in the process given itself a chance at the Big 12 North title.

Smith scored three rushing TDs and ran for 135 yards last week against Texas A&M while also throwing for 85 yards, and he has been good enough at times this season to beat teams all by himself. He is a gifted player and Missouri's best offensive threat, but a lack of a quality supporting cast has hurt against the best teams on the schedule.

The same could be true this weekend against Kansas State, which features plenty of its own skill on offense. Between K-State quarterback Ell Roberson, tailback Darren Sproles and wide receiver James Terry, the Tigers' defense will have too much to deal with. Sproles is the same kind of difference-makers as Smith under center, but defenses cannot key on him alone and that is a huge advantage.

The Tigers will have to walk the safeties down to help the front seven against the run, giving Terry and Roberson the one-on-one matchups in the passing game they thrive on. Kansas State, on the other hand, will focus all efforts on bottling up one part of the Missouri offense -- Smith -- and that should be the difference.

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Trev Alberts is a college football analyst for ESPN and a regular contributor to ESPN.com during the season.