Big 12: Iowa State Cyclones

Big 12 viewer's guide: Week 13

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
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Lesson learned.

Last weekend appeared like it would have minimal impact on the race for a College Football Playoff berth, with TCU visiting Kansas and Baylor sitting at home during a bye week. Instead, KU gave TCU everything it could handle and the Horned Frogs ended up dropping out of the CFP rankings top four despite a win.

This weekend, Baylor faces a similar scenario as the clear favorite over Oklahoma State, which is in the midst of a four-game losing streak.

Here are the storylines to watch in the Big 12 during Week 13:

[+] EnlargeCody Thomas
AP Photo/Alonzo AdamsCody Thomas will get his second start at QB this weekend for Oklahoma.
Kansas at No. 21 Oklahoma, noon ET (Fox Sports 1): The Sooners returned to the Top 25 after a 42-30 road win over Texas Tech last Saturday, but it has been a while since Bob Stoops' squad looked like one of the nation’s elite. Redshirt freshman quarterback Cody Thomas will get his second start and a second opportunity to show he should be in OU’s future plans. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks are coming off a strong performance, albeit a loss, against TCU. KU’s offense is more explosive with Eric Kiesau handling the play-calling duties and could make enough plays to put another ranked team on upset alert.

Texas Tech at Iowa State, 3:30 p.m. ET (Fox Sports Networks): Both teams badly need a win with one conference victory combined between the Red Raiders and Cyclones. Texas Tech showed plenty of fight in the loss to OU and has the better offense of the two with either Patrick Mahomes or Davis Webb at quarterback. But the Red Raiders also have an ugly trend of shooting themselves in the foot with turnovers and penalties. The Cyclones are coming off a bye week with a renewed focus on righting the ship after a blowout loss to KU in their last game. In a lot of ways, the 2015 season starts now for the Red Raiders and Cyclones with players on both teams looking to solidify themselves as key playmakers of the future.

Oklahoma State at No. 7 Baylor, 7:30 p.m. ET, (Fox): There is no shortage of reasons for Baylor to want to win -- and win impressively. Not only did Oklahoma State hammer Baylor 49-17 in 2013, but the Pokes have been the biggest thorn in the Bears' side in the entire conference in recent years, having won four of the past five meetings. Combine Baylor’s pursuit of a College Football Playoff berth and desire to impress the committee with Oklahoma State’s recent struggles and it could be an explosive night at McLane Stadium.

Big 12's top recruiting visits 

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
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With Kansas State holding off West Virginia on Thursday, the Big 12 will have another three-game weekend. Will the conference have a couple players finalize their college plans?

Big 12 morning links

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
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Man, I forgot just how much NFL talent was on this team. It's crazy...
  • The Big 12 has a problem and it's not just the chance the conference finds itself on the outside looking in when the top four for the College Football Playoff is announced, writes Jonathan Clegg of the Wall Street Journal. The conference dealing with an image problem as Baylor and TCU could be overlooked Clegg contends. I'm sure its frustrating for coaches, players and fans alike to see the Big 12 show the depth and overall parity to rival the SEC but not get the credit for it. The committee's decision to keep Mississippi State in the top four tells you all you need to know.
  • Iowa State defensive coordinator Wally Burnham still has plenty of passion and hopes his players finally have some success in the Cyclones final few games, writes Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register. It's one thing I've always noticed and respected about Paul Rhoads' teams. No matter how hard things get, his players generally continue to play hard. That's not an easy feat for a head coach.
  • Kansas' Nigel King has provided something the Jayhawks haven't had in years: A playmaking threat at the receiver position. Rustin Dodd of the Wichita Eagle details the Maryland transfer's road to Lawrence. King's emergence is yet another example of a change made by Clint Bowen, who felt King was among the Jayhawks' underused talents. King had 17 targets during Charlie Weis' four games as coach before amassing 43 targets in six games with Bowen at the helm. King heads into this weekend's game with Oklahoma after back-to-back games with more than 100 receiving yards.
  • The College Football Playoff has changed Bob Stoops' stance on the date of Bedlam, Oklahoma's annual meeting with Oklahoma State, reports Jason Kersey of The Oklahoman. The veteran head coach had previously expressed displeasure about the game's early December date because he felt it was handicapping the Sooners on the recruiting trail with OU losing a week to recruit in December. Now, with the College Football Playoff in mind, Stoops thinks playing in early December alongside the championship games of the other conferences, is a good idea. To me, playing on the final day of the regular season was always a good idea, playoff or not, because few teams get that chance and the added exposure playing in early December brings and any lost time recruiting can be made up during the final stretch of the recruiting cycle.
  • The committee's decision to rank Baylor No. 7 is putting the Bears in the position where they have to try to embarrass every team they play and impress the committee, suggests Matt Hayes of the Sporting News. There's plenty of football to be played, so hopefully it works itself out but I just have a hard time understanding how the Bears are behind some of these other one-loss teams, particularly Mississippi State and Ohio State. Considering the committee thinks highly enough to jump OU back into the top 25 after a decent, but not great, win at Texas Tech, why doesn't Baylor's road beatdown of the Sooners carry more weight?

Big 12 Week 13 predictions

November, 20, 2014
Nov 20
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Why Kansas State will win: West Virginia will bounce back and give K-State a heck of a fight in Morgantown. The Wildcats haven't gone on the road much this season (three times, in fact), but they'll be locked in and angry. KSU's defense gets after Clint Trickett just as Texas did. Kansas State 38, West Virginia 34 -- Max Olson

Why West Virginia will win: After battling four top 10 teams, the Mountaineers finally looked like a tired bunch in Austin. The week off should have done wonders for them physically and psychologically. I expect West Virginia to come out fired up for this game, knowing a win over the Wildcats would ensure this season will be deemed a success. West Virginia 34, Kansas State 31 -- Jake Trotter



Why Iowa State will win: Trotter has a two-game lead in our picks contest. I have to catch up. Fortune favors the bold. The Cyclones are fresh off a bye and will be able to move the ball on Tech. This is their best (only?) chance to avoid a winless conference season. If Davis Webb is back and dealing, I might be dead wrong. Iowa State 27, Texas Tech 24 -- Olson

Why Texas Tech will win: The Red Raiders simply have more firepower. Neither defense is great, so the team with the bigger arsenal should triumph, and that team is Tech. Texas Tech 38, Iowa State 24 -- Chatmon

Unanimous selections:

Baylor over Oklahoma State: Have you been watching the Oklahoma State offense? The Cowboys lead the Big 12 in three-and-outs, and since the Bears are gunning for style points, this could get ugly fast in Waco. The only variable to this game will be whether Oklahoma State is forced to pull the redshirt off freshman Mason Rudolph if a banged up Daxx Garman can't go. Yet even though Rudolph is an intriguing quarterback prospect, he won't have enough help around him and up front for it to make much of a difference against the speedy Bears. Baylor 66, Oklahoma State 13 – Trotter

Oklahoma over Kansas: If the Sooners lean on their running game, KU could struggle to find answers. Even though Clint Bowen’s Jayhawks are much improved, a road win at OU still seems out of reach. Oklahoma 31, Kansas 17 – Chatmon

But...

Why Kansas will keep it close: The Jayhawks will find a way to force OU to pass the ball. KU plays great pass defense. Without Trevor Knight, Oklahoma isn't playing great pass offense. Oklahoma 31, Kansas 21 -- Olson

Season records:
  • Trotter: 58-6
  • Chatmon: 56-8
  • Olson: 55-9

Big 12 stat check: Week 13

November, 19, 2014
Nov 19
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A closer look at one statistic worth keeping an eye on for each Big 12 team entering Week 12:


Baylor: The Bears' defense was supposed to take a step backward after losing several starters from its 2013 unit. Instead BU ranks among the conference leaders in several categories and leads the Big 12 by forcing a punt on 50.8 percent of opponents possessions and could see that number increase this weekend with a hapless Oklahoma State offense visiting McLane Stadium on Saturday.


Iowa State: The Cyclones will need to improve their sack percentage if they hope to slow down Texas Tech’s passing attack. ISU’s 3.5 sack percentage ranks last in the Big 12 as the Cyclones have struggled to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks outside of defensive end Cory Morrissey’s five sacks.


Kansas: Beware of the Jayhawks coming out of the halftime locker room. KU has a plus-8 turnover margin in the third quarter, which leads the Big 12. Clint Bowen’s squad could need some turnovers to upset Oklahoma in Norman, so an opportunistic defense could be the Jayhawks' key against OU.


Kansas State: The Wildcats are tough to stop once they get rolling. K-State scores on 66.2 percent of its drives that begin with an initial first down. In other words, a three-and-out is the best bet to slow the Wildcats’ offense, so West Virginia should take heed.


Oklahoma: The Sooners' running game has been impressive but their ball protection has been even more impressive. OU is averaging 240.9 rushing yards per game yet has lost a fumble once in 408 rushes. That’s a 0.7 fumble percentage, best in the Big 12.


Oklahoma State: The Cowboys' offense is trending downward and the offensive line is a big reason why. Negative plays have become the norm for Mike Gundy’s team with 36.2 percent of their plays resulting in negative yardage. Only Iowa State (37.9) has a worse percentage in the Big 12.


Texas: With a date with TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin on the horizon, the Longhorns might be the best equipped to handle the conference’s top dual-threat signal-caller. UT’s 9.3 sack percentage is the best in the Big 12 with Baylor (8.4) as the only other Big 12 team with a sack percentage higher than 8 percent.


TCU: The Horned Frogs do a good job of adjusting their approach at halftime. Their average of 8.39 yards per play in the third quarter is first in the Big 12 and nearly two yards better than second-ranked K-State (6.68 ypp).


Texas Tech: Even with Tech’s uncertainty at the quarterback position, the Red Raiders' defense is at the heart of the struggles for Kliff Kingsbury’s team. Tech is allowing 3.04 points per drive, last in the Big 12 and No. 123 among FBS teams. The Red Raiders' offense hasn’t helped the cause with 22 turnovers but the defense has been unable to overcome those mistakes.


WVU: The Mountaineers' defense has played a huge role in the improvement of Dana Holgorsen’s team. WVU’s pass defense has been much improved with the Mountaineers allowing 6.06 yards per pass attempt, ranking second in the Big 12. Last season, WVU ranked last in the conference at 7.88 yards allowed per pass attempt.

Big 12 releases 2015 schedule

November, 19, 2014
Nov 19
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The Big 12 released its conference schedule Wednesday for the 2015 season. Here's the schedule, along with a few of my thoughts below:

Sept. 26
Oklahoma State at Texas
TCU at Texas Tech
Oct. 3
Texas Tech vs. Baylor (Arlington)
Kansas at Iowa State
Kansas State at Oklahoma State
West Virginia at Oklahoma
Texas at TCU
Oct. 10
Baylor at Kansas
Iowa State at Texas Tech
Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas)
Oklahoma State at West Virginia
TCU at Kansas State
Oct. 17
West Virginia at Baylor
Oklahoma at Kansas State
Texas Tech at Kansas
TCU at Iowa State
Oct. 24
Iowa State at Baylor
Kansas at Oklahoma State
Kansas State at Texas
Texas Tech at Oklahoma
Oct. 29 (Thursday)
West Virginia at TCU
Oct. 31
Oklahoma at Kansas
Oklahoma State at Texas Tech
Texas at Iowa State
Nov. 5 (Thursday)
Baylor at Kansas State
Nov. 7
Iowa State at Oklahoma
Kansas at Texas
Texas Tech at West Virginia
TCU at Oklahoma State
Nov. 14
Kansas at TCU
Kansas State at Texas Tech
Oklahoma at Baylor
Oklahoma State at Iowa State
Texas at West Virginia
Nov. 21
Baylor at Oklahoma State
Iowa State at Kansas State
West Virginia at Kansas
TCU at Oklahoma
Nov. 26 (Thursday)
Texas Tech at Texas
Nov. 27 (Friday)
Baylor at TCU
Nov. 28
Iowa State at West Virginia
Kansas State at Kansas
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State
Dec. 5
West Virginia at Kansas State
Texas at Baylor

Thoughts:
  • The biggest thing that jumps out is the Baylor-TCU game on Black Friday. I saw some dissension about this on Twitter, but I actually kind of like it. The Big 12 needs rivalries after the Red River Showdown and Bedlam, and TCU-Baylor seems to be the league's best chance at developing a third major rivalry. Putting the game on a special day like Black Friday places an added emphasis on the game. Especially if it again holds Big 12 title and playoff implications.
  • Baylor has a killer November slate, with road trips to K-State, Oklahoma State and TCU, and a home bout with Oklahoma. The Bears will also play their first two conference games away from home. I doubt Art Briles will be fired up about this schedule.
  • TCU has a brutal stretch late in November, playing Oklahoma and Baylor in a six-day span. That two-game swing could define the Horned Frogs' season.
  • Dec. 5 potentially could be a big weekend for the league. West Virginia, K-State, Texas and Baylor could all be in the Big 12 title mix. The league should have a national presence while other conferences are playing their championship games.
  • The Big 12 has three Thursday night conference games, and all three have a chance to be good ones.
Iowa State center Tom Farniok is one of the most experienced players in the Big 12.

A four-year starter for the Cyclones, Farniok took some time to chat with ESPN.com about his Cyclones career, his best memories and his post-football plans.

What’s been your best memory of being a Cyclone?

Tom Farniok: So far, beating Iowa for the first time in triple overtime since they had dominated us the previous two years and beating Oklahoma State my redshirt freshman year. And playing against my brother (Derek, a junior tackle at Oklahoma) has been pretty cool, but we lost every time we played them, which is not as fun.

What is your favorite coach Paul Rhoads moment?

TF: That’s a hard one. I’d have to go back to beating Iowa. Pretty much every time we beat Iowa, it’s a pretty good celebration.

What stands out about that?

TF: Just his passion and his care.

What has been the best part of being an Iowa State Cyclone?

TF: It’s a good place with a lot of good guys and a lot of good people that care. The fans are good, they stick with us through thick and thin. It’s a pretty good place to be.

What’s this season been like for you and the team? Seems like you've been ravaged with injuries.

TF: I got dinged up the first week and it hindered me for about four weeks, and you know, that’s just the way it happens, you know? It’s football, you’ve just got to roll with the punches sometimes.

Has it been tough for you dealing with injuries this year and last year?

TF: Well, this season was not bad, I just got dinged up and I couldn’t play to my full potential. Last year stunk because I had a couple foolish things happen that were bad injuries and it was just a fluke, but you just have to roll with it, toughen it out sometimes and it will all be OK.

Has your leadership been tested this season as far as keeping everyone upbeat?

TF: Not really. We have a pretty good group of guys, so we’ve done a good job as a team of not dragging down and focusing on trying to go out there and get the next one.

Any game you remember as particularly fun or because of the atmosphere?

TF: Iowa is always a huge game and the atmosphere is crazy. And when we played Oklahoma State was probably the most insane atmosphere I’ve ever been in. Well, maybe not insane, but it was pretty dang intense.

When you look back on your Iowa State career, what do you want your legacy to be?

TF: A guy who was a good player who did things right.

What are you wanting to do post football?

TF: Post football I want to be a strength and conditioning coach.

Why a strength coach?

TF: I like seeing people grow. It’s something I really gravitate toward.

What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome to be a four-year starter?

TF: Just being a young guy and making young guy mistakes.

When did you get past that?

TF: About halfway through my sophomore year I started becoming a real veteran. I’d played in a lot of games.

If you didn’t play football what do you think you’d be doing?

TF: I have no idea.

Heading down the stretch, what’s going to be the key to finishing your career strong?

TF: Just finishing strong, taking it one play at a time and hoping for the best.

Big 12 morning links

November, 19, 2014
Nov 19
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Fear the Beard. A new "This is SportsCenter" ad has arrived.
  • Iowa State is hoping to use the final stretch of the season as a springboard for next year, writes Bobby LaGesse of the Ames Tribune. The Cyclones used their bye week to change their outlook heading into games with West Virginia, Texas Tech and TCU. It's been a rough year for the Cyclones but going winless in Big 12 play could be a disaster for Paul Rhoads' team.
  • Kansas' improved performances on the weekend have begun during the week, writes Matt Tait of the Lawrence Journal-World. The intensity of practices have increased and players are starting to understand they have to pay the price, says interim coach Clint Bowen. It's interesting that the intensity and fun have picked up at Bowen's practices. It speaks to the relationships that Bowen has created with his players. If they didn't have a strong relationship, it's unlikely KU's players would respond to Bowen like they have.
  • Kansas State coach Bill Snyder would have liked to see one of the Wildcats' running backs seize the primary ball carrier spot and become the "man" in the backfield, writes Ken Corbitt of the Topeka Capital-Journal. The Wildcats' inability to replace John Hubert has seemed like a handicap to the K-State offense for the bulk of the year. Quite frankly, it shows how well KSU has played as a team for the Wildcats to be 7-2 through nine games without a running back with more than 500 rushing yards.
  • Becoming a Mountaineer was a dream come true for Clint Trickett and now the West Virginia quarterback can make it a perfect home finale with an upset win over Kansas State. Trickett has had a terrific season but has fallen off in recent weeks with more interceptions (3) than touchdowns (2). Make no mistake, he has been a key to WVU's improved record this season and he will be the key on Thursday night.
  • Lastly, Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said the Red Raiders changed defensive signals "as soon as they found out" their signals may have been compromised after former defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt left the program, reports Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Earlier this week questions arose about the possibility of Tech's defensive signals "being passed around" during the past two to three weeks. It's such an odd situation but it seems odd the Red Raiders didn't immediately change signals upon Wallerstedt's departure but I can also see how, particularly in the midst of a tough season, it wouldn't even cross their mind that those signals could be compromised.
In Tuesday's mailbag, we discuss Ohio State's argument to jump Baylor or TCU and potential upset alerts for TCU and Kansas State. As always, thanks for your questions. To submit questions for next Tuesday's mailbag, click here.

Dylan in Clendenin, West Virginia, writes: Could the West Virginia Mountaineers pull off an upset this Thursday night after a disappointing loss to Texas?

Brandon Chatmon: Definitely. Thursday night at Milan Puskar Stadium? That isn’t easy for anyone and Kansas State is no different. The key for WVU will be taking better care of the football after seven turnovers in the past two games, both losses. If WVU protects the ball, it has a chance against anyone.

rtXC in Denison, Texas, writes: Texas Tech has had 6 Defensive Coordinators and 4 changes of defensive schemes in the past 6 years. Any chance Kliff Kingsbury goes after Will Muschamp this offseason? He would bring a bit more age and experience to that young staff, excellent schemes and coaching, and would surely help Tech in recruiting. How much money would it take to land him? Any chance this becomes a Tech vs A&M battle?

BC: It’s an interesting thought and one Kingsbury should probably look into but I’d imagine Muschamp will be highly sought after. It would be more like a Tech vs. everybody battle than a Tech/A&M battle.

David in Austin, Texas, writes: If Baylor wins out will TCU have any argument to get in over Baylor? (Assuming Minnesota doesn't beat Wisconsin or Nebraska)

BC: Oh, TCU definitely has an argument, David. The Horned Frogs have the Big 12’s best offensive player in Trevone Boykin and a stout defense. There’s a reason they sit at No. 4 nationally heading into tonight’s release of the new College Football Playoff rankings. So, TCU has an argument. It’s just not a winning argument in my eyes.

Bryan Middleton in Waco writes: Why is Ohio State getting all sorts of credit for being 8-1 in the Big Ten? Even with the Michigan State win, I'm just not seeing them as a playoff team over Baylor (or TCU but don't tell them I said that). Do I got my homer glasses on or am I missing something?

BC: It’s a solid point, Bryan. I don’t know that Ohio State deserves to go over either Big 12 school. The Buckeyes seem like the “hot” team right now but a closer look at their resume doesn’t do much to convince me they should be jumping anyone anytime soon. If it happens, and they are granted a berth over a 11-1 TCU or Baylor, either Big 12 school would have a legitimate beef with that decision.

Josh in Owasso, Oklahoma, writes: Why would Coach Bob Stoops even think of leaving Oklahoma after all this talk about new coaching positions at Michigan and Florida? And if so which school would he choose?

BC: He would think about it because some people keep taking him for granted at Oklahoma. That said, I believe him when he says he’s a candidate at Oklahoma and not interested in leaving. I can’t think of a lot of compelling reasons for him to leave, it just simply doesn’t make a lot of sense. But, to answer your question, Michigan over Florida, he's not heading to the SEC to face his brother in head-to-head matchups.

Alec Bartoszek in Cedar Falls writes: I am a huge Texas fan all the way up here in Iowa! Do you think with all the confidence Texas has that they can pull off the upset on Thanksgiving Night vs. TCU?

BC: Actually, it’s quite possible I may pick the Longhorns. I haven’t made a final decision but that Thanksgiving matchup won’t be a walk in the park for TCU. UT’s defensive line is playing better and better and it’s offense is doing a better job establishing the running game. Both things are keys to knocking off TCU. That game is a toss-up in my mind right now so there’s no doubt the Longhorns have a chance to pull the upset.

Big 12 Observer in Frisco, Texas, writes: Can someone please tell me why Mississippi State's out of conference schedule isn't mentioned in all of this playoff discussion? Is that supposed to be offset by their amazing wins that don't seem so amazing anymore? Or Ohio State's complete SOS at this point? After the first few games, everyone mentioned how bad the Big 10 is this year but now everyone gives them credit for beating each other. I don't see any logical reason the Big 12 should miss out of the playoff for either of these teams. Please tell me what I'm missing here.

BC: Maybe we’re both missing something, because I agree. I think MSU should drop significantly in tonight’s rankings. It's riding the momentum of beating a bunch of teams that people thought were good. And as I said before, Ohio State hasn’t done much to make me think it's more deserving than Baylor or TCU. But, therein lies the problem, right? It’s all based off what people think about these teams. That’s why I’m so hard headed about head-to-head being the most important factor to me in any resume discussion.

Cyclones in Des Moines writes: How do I stop the bleeding?

BC: Bandage? Or if you want to be holistic, raw honey? … In all seriousness, the Cyclones have been ravaged by injury and, quite frankly, ISU just doesn’t have the depth to withstand this type of injury barrage. Thus, the real answer is evaluation and development, then recruiting but nobody really wants to hear that answer because it’s a long-term solution in a “fix-it-now” world.

Billy McElroy in Brooklyn, New York, writes: The BIG XII. 10 teams. ONE TRUE CHAMPION! That is the marketing and advertising we see during every BIG XII game anyway. ONE BIG QUESTION: How can you have co-champions when the product you're selling says otherwise?

BC: I wish I knew. It’s enough to make a person root for co-champions every single year.

Big 12 FPI rankings: Week 12

November, 17, 2014
Nov 17
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ESPN's Football Power Index is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of performance going forward for the rest of the season. Every week, ESPN will be updating its FPI to compile a ranking based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using results to date and the remaining schedule.

Baylor continued its rise up the FPI, moving into the top four, but it is TCU’s drop behind Oklahoma that headlines this week’s update of the FPI.

After a 42-30 win against Texas Tech, the Sooners jumped TCU, moving from No. 10 to No. 9. TCU’s lackluster showing in a 34-30 win against Kansas drops the Horned Frogs two spots to No. 11.

Baylor remains the clear favorite to win the Big 12, with its odds increasing from 71.7 percent to 74.3 during the off week.

TCU saw its odds drop from 24.2 percent to 21.7 percent, yet continues to have hope for a Big 12 title. But, after losing head-to-head to the Bears, TCU will need a Baylor loss to become the conference’s designated champion.

KSU is the only other team with Big 12 title odds, at four percent, with the Wildcats hoping to win out and see TCU suffer a loss to Texas or Iowa State in its final two games.

Three-loss Oklahoma is projected to win out with home games against Kansas and Oklahoma State remaining on the schedule.

Interim coach Clint Bowen’s Jayhawks continue to rise. After sitting at No. 103 two weeks ago, Kansas has risen to No. 89 on the heels of a win against Iowa State on Nov. 8 and the close loss to TCU on Saturday.

Oklahoma State is the biggest mover in the conference, dropping seven spots to No. 62 after Texas manhandled the Cowboys in its 28-7 win at Boone Pickens Stadium over the weekend.

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Big 12 morning links

November, 17, 2014
Nov 17
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It's always hard to keep your bluff when this happens.
  • Will Muschamp was fired Sunday, and seemingly every coach in the Big 12 has been mentioned as a possible replacement at Florida, including Bob Stoops, Charlie Strong, Mike Gundy, Art Briles and Gary Patterson. If I were a betting man, I would place a wager that the next coach at Florida will not come via the Big 12. But, this will be worth monitoring the next couple months.
  • Of those five names, Stoops would probably be Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley's No. 1 choice. Foley has made overtures toward Stoops before, and the two have a history dating to when Stoops was the Gators' defensive coordinator in the 1990s. The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey, however, raised an astute point that could turn this into a non-starter for Stoops. His brother, Mark, is the head coach at Kentucky. Would Stoops really sign off on playing his brother every year?
  • Speaking of coaching vacancies, the Lawrence Journal-World's Tom Keegan believes Clint Bowen deserves to have the interim tag stripped at Kansas. Following a valiant performance in a narrow 34-30 loss to fourth-ranked TCU, Keegan wrote that Bowen has transformed a depleted roster into a high-flying, hard-hitting ball of focused fire." I was in Lawrence on Saturday, and it's hard to disagree. Kansas looks like a completely different team right now. And Bowen is making it very hard for Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger not to hand him the keys to the program full time.
  • The one silver lining in Texas Tech's 42-30 defeat against Oklahoma over the weekend was the performance of true freshman quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who tossed four touchdown passes and no interceptions. In the opinion of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's Nick Talbot, the Red Raiders should turn the offense over to Mahomes for good. I'm not ready to write off Davis Webb just yet. But Mahomes' ability to make plays outside of the pocket definitely sparked the Red Raiders, and opened up big plays. He also avoided turnovers, which has been Webb's downfall this season. Whether it's Mahomes, Webb or high school senior Jarrett Stidham, it's going to be interesting to see who eventually emerges as Tech's quarterback of the future.
  • Back to the coaching theme, the Des Moines Register's Randy Peterson weighed in on whether Iowa State should fire coach Paul Rhoads after a second straight disappointing season. Personally, I think it's way too soon for the Cyclones to be seriously considering this. Sure, this season has been a disaster in every way. But Rhoads took Iowa State to three bowl games in his four years. Under Rhoads, Ames had been a difficult place to play. And the fans have been coming to the games, propelling plans to renovate Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa State bailed on former coach Dan McCarney too early. The Cyclones would be making the same mistake in bailing on Rhoads at this point, too.

Big 12 morning links

November, 14, 2014
Nov 14
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Happy Friday, everybody. Just a friendly reminder: If your kids want to rake in the big bucks, make 'em play baseball.
  • What magical, divine intervention must take place in order for TCU and Baylor to both make the College Football Playoff? Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News explains what might have to happen in order for the Big 12's dream scenario to somehow become reality. Sherrington is right about one thing: how Arizona State and Ohio State finish their respective seasons will have a huge impact on the Big 12 getting one or both teams into the playoff.
  • So it's Cody Thomas time for Oklahoma. What can we expect from the redshirt freshman? Jason Kersey of The Oklahoman takes a look at Thomas' track record of keeping his composure and why his calm demeanor will be an asset in a hostile environment at Texas Tech. His high school coach points to Thomas' side job as a baseball player as one reason he'll be calm in his first career start for the Sooners. Whether or not the big moment fazes him, the fact is Thomas should face extra pressure from TTU defensive coordinator Mike Smith. The guy likes to blitz, and why not go after a first-time starter?
  • As expected, Joe Wickline has been a popular topic this week in the lead-up to Texas vs. Oklahoma State. John Helsley of The Oklahoman explores Wickline's legacy during his time at OSU and wonders how fans are supposed to react on Saturday. Mike Gundy says the right things in this story (even though, you know, that lawsuit ordeal is still going on), but you have to think there's going to be some bad blood this weekend and that the victor is going to do a little chest-thumping when the night's over.
  • Iowa State has lost three verbal commitments in the last week. Should that be cause for concern? In this particular instance, losing Tristan Nickelson (to Texas), Xavier Pegues (to West Virginia) and Larry Jefferson is arguably more damaging than usual because all three were junior college transfers expected to make an early impact. Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register wonders if uncertainty about Paul Rhoads' future is the cause and whether ISU administrators need to make a public show of support. I think it's more a matter of kids wanting to go to a program that's winning lately. I could be wrong. Your thoughts?
  • I always like when reporters go back and break down how a recruiting class has fared three or four years later. Tom Keegan of the Lawrence Journal-World offers an interesting recap of how the 2011 class that Turner Gill signed has fared at Kansas. Only 11 of his 25 signees are still in the program, but to Gill's credit, he did find Ben Heeney, Tony Pierson, JaCorey Shepherd, Michael Reynolds, Michael Cummings and some critical contributors in that year.

Big 12 morning links

November, 11, 2014
Nov 11
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I still can't get over this story. I mean, really, this actually happened. Unbelievable. On to the links:
  • Kliff Kingsbury says he's hopeful Texas Tech will have both of its quarterbacks healthy to take on Oklahoma. Davis Webb (ankle) and Patrick Mahomes (head) had time to recover during the Red Raiders' bye week, and it appears they were good to go for practice Monday. That's promising and much-needed good news, especially considering the uncertain circumstances their opponent is facing this week...
  • If Cody Thomas is asked to start at quarterback this week, Oklahoma players say they have faith in him to deliver. Blake Bell could see some second-team QB reps this week in preparation for that scenario. SoonerScoop.com reported on Monday night that Knight actually suffered transient quadriplegia, essentially a scary and more serious version of a stinger, when he went down against Baylor. There's still some hope that Knight will be back to play TTU, but surely that'll depend on his ability to practice later this week. Stay tuned.
  • After his first win as Kansas interim head coach, Clint Bowen is staying humble and deflecting credit. He praised all the help he's received from administrators, coaches and even student managers during this stint at KU. He heaped more praise on his players for their daily buy-in since the coaching change. The Jayhawks' senior class in particular should get props for the way they helped hold the team together, but you get the sense this is Bowen all the way and that his passion for the team and the job are paying off in a real and special way.
  • Bill Snyder saw some anger and disappointment from his players after their loss to TCU on Saturday, and there's nothing wrong with that. Kansas State has a valuable opportunity to regroup during this bye week and refocus before taking on a West Virginia team next Thursday that's coming off a similarly frustrating loss. Snyder wants to see how his Wildcats respond this week. With a share of a Big 12 title still there for the taking, they at least have a great reason to rally.
  • With Sam B. Richardson out and Grant Rohach struggling, how close did Paul Rhoads get to plugging in local kid Joel Lanning at quaterback? He warmed up against Kansas, but Rhoads says he wasn't ready to make the change. A redshirt freshman from Rhoads' hometown of Ankeny, Iowa, Lanning has yet to play in a game. Rhoads is hoping Richardson will be ready to return in time for the Cyclones' next game against Texas Tech.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

November, 10, 2014
Nov 10
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Here is what's happening on the recruiting trail around the Big 12 this week:


BAYLOR
Total commits: 12
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: Waco (Texas) Midway four-star safety Kahlil Haughton was on hand to see Baylor embarrass Oklahoma, 48-14, on the Sooners' home field. Both schools are recruiting the elite safety prospect so the Bears undoubtedly made a strong impression on the Class of 2015 prospect.


IOWA STATE
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: ISU’s week on the recruiting trail was a reminder how quickly things can change. The Cyclones landed Navarro Junior College tackle Tristan Nickelson early in the week, only to see him flip his commitment to Texas on Saturday. Rough week in Ames.


KANSAS
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Class of 2016 quarterback Dagan Haehn of Corinth, Texas/Lake Travis was on hand to see the Jayhawks capture their first Big 12 win over the season with a 34-14 triumph over Iowa State. The Jayhawks also offered Shawnee Mission (Kansas) East defensive tackle Kyle Ball.


KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: It was a rough weekend for the Wildcats on the field, but Bill Snyder’s program is looking at a good “case of the Mondays” after Loganville (Georgia) Grayson linebacker Mohamed Barry committed to KSU Monday morning. The three-star prospect also reports offers from Wisconsin, South Florida, NC State and others. He continues the Wildcats' trend of looking for hidden gems in Georgia as the fourth 2015 KSU commit from The Peach State.


OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: Along with Haughton, the Sooners had several visitors for the game against Baylor including UCLA commit Will Lockett (Manvel, Texas/Manvel) and current commit Kenneth Mann (Burleson, Texas/Burleson).


OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 15
ESPN 300 commits: 4
The latest: Several Cowboys coaches hit the recruiting trail with OSU on a bye week. The Cowboys also offered junior college offensive lineman Tyler Howell (Butler C.C.), who has offers from Arkansas, Ohio State, Missouri and others.


TCU
Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Horned Frogs hosted several recruits for their game against Kansas State including Class of 2016 prospect Kaleb McNac (Garland, Texas/Lakeview Centennial) and Keion Sutton (Midlothian, Texas/Midlothian).


TEXAS
Total commits: 18
ESPN 300 commits: 9
The latest: The Longhorns flipped Navarro Junior College offensive tackle Tristan Nickelson, who was previously committed to Iowa State. Meanwhile UT lost a commitment when Converse, Texas/Judson safety Keivon Ramsey decided to re-open his recruiting process.


TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: The Red Raiders added a commitment from Humble (Texas) Atascocita receiver Quan Shorts. The three-star prospect flipped from Texas San Antonio to pledge to Kliff Kingsbury’s program.


WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 21
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: The Mountaineers offered Coconut Creek (Florida) Monarch receiver Cavin Ridley, the No. 264 player in the ESPN Junior 300. Miami (Fla.) and Temple have also offered Ridley, who is the younger brother of Alabama commitment Calvin Ridley, the No. 23 player in the ESPN 300.

What we learned in the Big 12: Week 11

November, 9, 2014
Nov 9
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Here's what we learned about the Big 12 in Week 11:

1. Who’s stopping these Frogs? The Big 12 game of the year was a romp, a 41-20 TCU win blown open by its offense doing what it has done all year long. The Frogs' cupboard of skill talent is deeper than we realized -- no B.J. Catalon, no Deante’ Gray, no problem at all. The Frogs still put up 553 yards (171 from running back Aaron Green) and absolutely stuffed what KSU wanted to do on the ground. We’ve been saying for weeks their schedule is a cakewalk from here. Thanks to Auburn's loss, TCU has a shot at a spot among the top four in the College Football Playoff rankings this week. After beating their fourth ranked Big 12 foe, don’t the Frogs deserve it?

[+] EnlargeBryce Petty
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsBryce Petty threw for 387 yards in Baylor's big win at Oklahoma.
 2. Bears don’t fear the road: Nope, that was about as fearless as it gets. Baylor stormed into Norman and dominated the No. 12 Sooners 48-14, sending a loud message to its skeptics and the College Football Playoff committee. To come back from a 14-3 deficit and drop 45 unanswered points on OU in its house isn’t just special; it’s the momentum-booster the Bears needed for a final stretch in which they can control their destiny. Baylor’s first road win over a ranked team since 1991 goes down as a memorable one, that’s for sure, and a classic Bryce Petty performance (387 yards on 76 percent passing) was a must this week.

3. KU wins one for Clint: Remember, Clint Bowen first started working for Kansas in 2000. Can you imagine, after 14 years working for this program, how good that first Gatorade bath must've felt? Bowen earned his first win in five games as KU’s interim head coach, a 34-14 smackdown of Iowa State that started with a 24-0 run. It’s an exhilarating high that has some Kansas fans already calling for the “interim” tag to get dropped. The foes on Kansas’ remaining schedule: TCU, OU, KSU. Pull off one more win, and it’s his gig for good, right?

4. Texas beats up worn-out WVU: When Dana Holgorsen called the first half of West Virginia’s 33-16 loss at Texas a “good old-fashioned butt kicking,” he wasn’t lying. Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown kept punching up the gut to the tune of 191 combined rushing yards, and West Virginia wilted on pressure downs (3-of-17 on third downs, two failed fourth-down conversions) against a tough Texas D. The Mountaineers are out of the Big 12 title race and running out of gas. Good thing next week brings a bye.

5. Wildcats aren’t dead just yet: Kansas State loses its perch atop the Big 12 standings, but its real standing now isn’t any different than that of Baylor. Win out, and the Wildcats will be assured at least a share of the Big 12 title. That’s no small consolation prize. Now is a fine time for their bye week. Baylor is going to test them in a lot of the ways TCU did on Saturday. Bill Synder’s bunch will need a better answer on Dec. 6.

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