After upsetting Kansas State last fall, Baylor is your new team to beat in college football. Sort of. Photo: USA Today Sports
A meeting in the middle of November last fall between unranked Baylor and BCS No. 1 Kansas State had plenty riding on it in terms of championship dreams for the Wildcats. Baylor though scored a major victory with a 52-24 final score, sending Kansas State on to another exit miles short of the final destination in Miami. But Baylor's victory did more than just end Kansas State's BCS championship dreams. Baylor also claimed hold of The Championship Belt for the first time since 1991.
The Championship Belt is an unofficial fan-given designation with a bit of a cult following among college football circles. It started with a few guys coming up with their own method to determine who their national champion was, with the champion always being determined on the field of play. They came up with the idea to track the title starting with the best team in their lifetime (1971 Nebraska) and track it from there. This method has since been expanded to track back to the 1936 Minnesota Golden Gophers, the first team to win an official Associated Press national championship. No matter where you start with the timeline, all roads lead down the same path eventually. Like in boxing, the belt is handed off to whoever can beat the reigning belt holder.
As it stands right now, Baylor is your reigning belt holder.
In the more recent history of the belt, Alabama held the belt in 2010 before losing to South Carolina on October 9, 2010. The Gamecocks took control of the belt but lost it the following week when they were upset by Kentucky. Kentucky proceeded to turn it over to Georgia the following week and Florida claimed it the very next week. South Carolina would win the belt back two games later but would lose it to Cam Newton and the BCS championship bound Auburn Tigers in the SEC Championship Game. Auburn would head in to the 2011 season holding the belt but an early-season loss to Clemson handed the belt from the SEC to the ACC, where it would be exchanged a few times by Clemson to Georgia Tech to Virginia Tech and back to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. Clemson lost the belt, along with just about everything else possible, in the Orange Bowl when West Virginia destroyed the Tigers. The Mountaineers claimed the belt for the Big East and took it with them to the Big 12 to start the 2012 season.
After a 5-0 start in 2012, West Virginia lost control of the belt when Texas Tech stumped them on October 13, 2012. The Red Raiders, holding the belt for the first time since defeating Texas thanks to Michael Crabtree's career highlight touchdown in 2008, defended their title reign for one game before handing it over to Bill Snyder's Kansas State Wildcats on October 27, 2012. This marked the first time in the belt's history Kansas State held control. Baylor took the belt with their blowout victory over Kansas State and rides a three-game winning streak with control of the belt. The three-game streak matches Baylor's longest reign as championship belt holder from 1991, when they took control after an upset over Colorado on September 14, 1991 and lost it to Rice four games later.
So, two questions to ponder.
1. How long will Baylor hold on to the championship belt?
2. Who will be holding the belt at the end of the 2013 season?
Baylor opens the season August 31 at home against FCS Wofford. No FCS team has ever held control of the championship belt and the last time a program from what is now considered the FCS did own the belt was in the 1950s when it was exchanged between Ivy League programs Princeton and Penn. After Wofford, Baylor hosts Buffalo. No MAC program has ever held the belt, so it would appear the belt may be staying in Waco early on. Could Louisiana-Monroe make a push for the belt on September 21? ULM came up just short against Baylor last year, losing 47-42.
We'll let you have fun trying to predict just where the belt will end up at the end of the season. Share your predictions in the comments and we will see who comes closest.