Big 12: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Big 12 Week 10 predictions

October, 30, 2014
Oct 30
Why TCU will win: The Horned Frogs, playing like one of the nation's best teams, can get better. Trevone Boykin has been lethal, this offense has too much explosive diversity and TCU's defense will get the crucial second-half stops. This will be a fun chess match, a really physical game and another statement win for the Frogs. TCU 48, West Virginia 38. -- Max Olson

Why West Virginia will take it down to the wire: Clint Trickett and Kevin White are a great place to start. Add the Big 12's most improved defense, and WVU is in business. WVU has the playmakers to keep up with Boykin and the Horned Frogs' offense, while an electric atmosphere in Morgantown will make things even more difficult on TCU. Expect a close, high-scoring affair. TCU 49, West Virginia 46 -- Brandon Chatmon

Why Kansas State will win: Oklahoma State's offense is a dumpster fire right now, while K-State is coming off a shutout victory over Texas. The Cowboys again won't be able to move the ball against K-State's defense, which is stout at every level. And Jake Waters & Co. will be able to generate enough offensively to put this game away in the second half. Kansas State 31, Oklahoma State 13 -- Jake Trotter

Why Oklahoma will win: Don't sleep on these Cyclones. They proved against K-State and Texas that they're no easy out. But the Sooners are coming off a bye week, get top back Keith Ford back and know this Big 12 race isn't over for them just yet. OU steps up and gets a much-needed, bounce-back win. Oklahoma 45, Iowa State 20. -- Olson

Why Iowa State will keep it close: The Cyclones have historically played Oklahoma tough in Ames. The Iowa State offense is beginning to find its stride under coordinator Mark Mangino, while the Sooners have been suspect defensively the past month. The Cyclones probably won't be able to make enough stops to win. But they have the offense to make this one interesting. Oklahoma 35, Iowa State 31 -- Trotter

Why Baylor will win: Big plays, big plays and big plays. Injuries have dealt the Bears a blow along the offensive line, but Bryce Petty & Co. should come up with enough big plays to win comfortably against the Jayhawks. Baylor 45, Kansas 14 -- Chatmon

Why Texas will win: Anytime a game seems like a toss-up, I lean toward the team with the best defense. The Longhorns' defense ranks in the top third of the Big 12 in several categories including yards per play and sacks, which should help UT slow the Red Raiders' offense. Texas 24, Texas Tech 13 -- Chatmon

Season records:
  • Trotter: 48-4
  • Chatmon: 46-6
  • Olson: 46-6

Big 12 stat check: Week 10

October, 29, 2014
Oct 29
A closer look at one statistic worth keeping an eye on for each Big 12 team entering Week 10:

Baylor: The Bears had a bye week to address their penalty problems. One stat to put that issue in perspective: The Bears have more 10-plus penalty games this season (five) than the entire Big Ten conference combined (three). Then again, Big 12 teams have combined for 16 such games. That suggests style of play and the league's refs are probably important factors in the Bears' penalty woes.

Iowa State: The breakthrough is coming for Allen Lazard and D'Vario Montgomery. Both were impressive against Texas and have been targeted a combined 51 times by Sam B. Richardson in the Cyclones' past three games. In fact, Lazard was targeted a season-high 15 times against the Longhorns, one more than team receptions leader E.J. Bibbs.

Kansas: When interim head coach Clint Bowen says running back Corey Avery isn't being properly appreciated, he might be right. Avery's 417 rushing yards rank No. 11 in FBS among true freshmen on Power 5 conference teams and second most in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma's Samaje Perine, and he's already surpassed 500 total yards in his debut season.

Kansas State: ESPN Football Power Index data ranks the strength of Kansas State's record so far as No. 10 in the country and best in the Big 12. That's a good snapshot of both KSU's tough schedule and its impressive showings against ranked foes. But FPI still projects K-State will lose to TCU and Baylor, and that its road test at West Virginia is almost a 50-50 game (KSU's odds of winning are currently pegged at 46.8 percent).

Oklahoma: Getting running back Keith Ford back is good news for this Oklahoma offense, but tip your cap to his young understudies. In the four games Ford missed, Perine and Alex Ross combined to average 4.99 yards per carry and 156 rushing yards a game. All three offer different skill sets, giving the Sooners one dangerous trio if they can stay healthy the rest of the way.

Oklahoma State: After impressing in his first two starts, quarterback Daxx Garman has shown regression in his past four. His adjusted QBR of 40.2 in the month of October ranks No. 99 nationally and ninth in the Big 12. His QBR for those first starts against UTSA and Texas Tech was a combined 74.1, but he finished this month with a TD-to-INT ratio of 3-7.

TCU: The aerial attack stole most of the attention, but here's a big reason why TCU was capable of scoring 82 against Texas Tech: The Horned Frogs rushed for 224 yards on first downs against Tech. When you're getting 8.3 yards per carry on first down, you have the opportunity to do pretty much anything on offense.

Texas: Here's something you couldn't have expected entering the season: Texas is eight games in and hasn't had a running back surpass 100 rushing yards in any games. In fact, since losing David Ash in the opener, Texas has not had a back surpass 80 rushing yards in a single game. Quarterback Tyrone Swoopes' 95 rushing yards against Iowa State remains the team high.

Texas Tech: Following last week's record-setting debacle, Texas Tech's defense ranks No. 123 nationally and last among Power 5 conference teams in defensive efficiency, according to ESPN Stats & Info. But really, after a game like that, there's nowhere to go but up from here.

West Virginia: Clint Trickett continues to rank No. 1 in the Big 12 in passing, completion percentage, yards per attempt, completions of 20-plus yards, passer efficiency and QBR. He has more passing yards (2,763) and a better completion percentage (68.3 percent) than Bryce Petty had through the first eight games of his prolific Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year season last year.
Kliff Kingsbury, Charlie StrongIcon Sportswire, AP PhotoKliff Kingsbury and Charlie Strong both lead 3-5 teams in the midst of a rebuilding process.
AUSTIN, Texas -- Vance Bedford was describing with admiration what Bob Stoops built at Oklahoma when, as the loquacious Texas defensive coordinator is prone to do, he swerved off course. A children’s fable had come to mind.

“We are not where we need to be, but it's going in the right direction. It's just one brick at a time. One step at a time,” Bedford said earlier this month. “I know people now say Texas is this and Texas is that. Stay right here. Just like the three little pigs.

“We aren't building a straw house here, guys. We're building a brick house that is going to withstand a whole lot of things in time. A straw house is built real fast. When a strong wind comes by, it's gone real fast. A brick house will withstand a hurricane, a tornado. It's going to stand tall. It's going to stand a long time.”

There’s no one wolf to blame for the mighty winds that have blown through Austin and Lubbock this fall. For Texas and Texas Tech, both 3-5 and clinging to the faint hope of a bowl game, a frustrating season has offered humbling reminders about the reality of a true rebuild. They’ll meet on Saturday night amid different phases of the same difficult construction.

What Tech built up last season under Kliff Kingsbury was a house with more sticks than bricks. A 7-0 start beget irrational expectations. You can’t reasonably expect Big 12 titles right away from a first-time head coach, or at least you shouldn’t. The bar of public perception was raised too high, too fast.

And then the Red Raiders lost five in a row. They saved face in their bowl game, but the damage was done. They’ve spent 2014 in a frustratingly fruitless chase to get back what they briefly had a year ago.

“It's in there,” Kingsbury said earlier this season. “We’ve just got to get it out and find a way to get that type of composure, that confidence back.”

The road back has offered disaster at nearly every turn: the beatdown from Arkansas, defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt’s dismissal, a four-game slide, innumerable injuries and penalties and now the 82-27 loss to TCU. Tech, losers of nine of its last 10 conference games, is just trying to get through this now.

“Where we're at, any win would be good,” Kingsbury said. “It's just -- it's been one of those years where any win is good. We're not a good enough team to look past anybody or not play well against anybody to get a win at this point.”

Through it all, the brick-by-brick building doesn't stop. Tech players haven't given up. Running back DeAndre Washington remembers what happened after the 5-7 season of 2011. He calls it the longest offseason in all his years playing football.

“I definitely don't want to have to endure that feeling again,” Washington said. “We're trying to do everything we can to make sure that doesn't happen again.”

At Texas, the bricklaying is off to a slower start. Charlie Strong promised a culture change for the program, and that foundation has shown progress. He never promised a Big 12 title in Year 1. But unexpected roster upheaval has created real obstacles to reaching six wins.

It’s not just the nine Longhorns dismissed from the program and the one still suspended. Losing senior starters Dominic Espinosa and Desmond Jackson for the season and junior quarterback David Ash for his career, all before Big 12 play began, required a shift in both plans and expectations.

“Nobody could’ve predicted this,” receiver John Harris said. “We figured we’d be a way better team than we were. If you go back and don’t lose any of those people, maybe it’s a different story. But this is the hand we’ve been dealt.”

The Texas team that’s left might best be described as unpredictable. Close calls against ranked UCLA, Baylor and Oklahoma teams are defensible. A couple fewer mistakes here and there and the narrative changes. But losses are losses.

“That's not the standard,” Strong said. “I still believe this. I always will believe this. I told our team this: We are a better football team than a 3-5 record. The record doesn't show it, but we're a better team.”

Strong and Kingsbury are in this for the long haul -- Strong has a five-year deal, Kingsbury’s was extended to 2020 -- and have time to assemble something that will endure. It’s about the next four years, not just these next four games. But both could use something good on Saturday night.

Their fans are disappointed. Their players are hurting. Their coaches are digging deep. Their reputations are taking hits. This is the rough battle of rebuilding. But neither coach should lose sight of the little pigs’ lesson: How you build your house matters far more than how quickly.

Big 12 bowl projections: Week 9

October, 28, 2014
Oct 28
The initial College Football Playoff rankings have brought changes in the Big 12 bowl projections.

With the Allstate Sugar Bowl serving as a semifinal site and TCU on the outside of the top 4 at No. 7, the Horned Frogs slide over to another New Year's Day bowl (Fiesta, Cotton or Peach). Ninth-ranked Kansas State, as one of the top 12 teams in the initial rankings, joins TCU in a New Year's Day bowl.

Additional movement this week features Charlie Strong's Texas squad dropping out completely. UT would have to win three of four games in the final weeks of the season to reach six wins and bowl eligibility. With TCU, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech remaining on the schedule, the odds aren't on the side of the Longhorns.

Cotton Bowl: TCU
Fiesta Bowl: Kansas State
Valero Alamo Bowl: West Virginia
Russell Athletic Bowl: Baylor
AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl: Oklahoma
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Oklahoma State
Cactus Bowl: None eligible
In Tuesday's mailbag we discuss Baylor and West Virginia's playoff hopes, Big 12 parity and Kliff Kingsbury. As always, thanks for your questions. To submit questions for next Tuesday's mailbag, click here.

Lennon Coley in Temple, Texas, writes: I’m still not sure why when it comes to playoff discussions, TCU is the only one ever mentioned. Kansas State occasionally gets a little love. But why is Baylor all of a sudden out of it? People act like they have nothing left on the schedule. Oklahoma was a catapulting win for both TCU and Kansas State. Does Baylor not get that luxury? Also a win over K-State has been cited as a quality win for Auburn, but doesn't provide Baylor with an opportunity should they win that game? If Baylor wins out, which won't be easy, what gives TCU the edge? A win over Minnesota? That definitely shouldn't do it, especially when Baylor has the head-to-head win. Both nonconference schedules were extremely weak.

Brandon Chatmon: A loss to two-loss West Virginia doesn’t help and is one reason why Baylor sits behind TCU and Kansas State on the Big 12 queue of College Football Playoff contenders. BU’s best potential remaining wins are at two-loss Oklahoma and home against one-loss Kansas State. Is that enough to get them in the College Football Playoff? Not without some help. Baylor is not out of it by any stretch, particularly if the Bears take care of business, but TCU and K-State should be ahead of the Bears right now.

William Mills in Dunkirk, Ohio, writes: What are the odds of a two-loss West Virginia (if it can win out) making it to the playoff?

Chatmon: Slim. Dubious. Tenuous. All those words apply. Dana Holgorsen’s squad would need some serious help to find its way into the College Football Playoff conversation. Basically, nationwide chaos needs to occur. But, the resume would look pretty solid with wins over TCU, Baylor and Kansas State. But I think two losses is just too much for WVU to overcome without chaos reigning to help out the Mountaineers.

Corey in Allen, Texas, writes: I know it takes a while for a young coach to relinquish the reins as a play-caller, but do you think it's time for Kliff Kingsbury to let go of the offensive play-calling? Seems he needs to focus more on whole team strategy and mentoring his coordinators than just the offense and quarterbacks.

Chatmon: No. I don’t think the problems in Lubbock are related to Kingsbury’s play-calling. In fact, that’s way down the list. The No. 1 problem is lack of depth and overall playmakers in the program. As Kingsbury increases the overall depth and talent on the roster, Tech will improve. We’re starting to see just how much rebuilding was needed when he arrived. The 7-0 start to his head coaching career was a mirage in many ways. So, no, I don’t see any reason for Kingsbury to make that change in his gameday approach.

Chelsea in Pineville, West Virginia, writes: ESPN and the College Gameday crew have clearly recognized what a momentous day it will be in Morgantown on Saturday when the 10th-ranked Horned Frogs roll into town. What is the absolute No. 1 thing the Mountaineers need to do this weekend to send the TCU back to Fort Worth with a loss?

Chatmon: Win the turnover battle. Overshadowed by TCU’s explosive offense has been the Horned Frogs ability to win the turnover battle. TCU is plus-12 in turnover margin, best in the Big 12 and double the plus-six of second-place Oklahoma. West Virginia, meanwhile, is ninth in the conference at minus-9. If the Mountaineers’ can flip the script and win the turnover battle, it takes the ball out of Trevone Boykin’s hands while giving more opportunities to Clint Trickett, Kevin White and the WVU offense. That would be a great recipe for an upset.

rtXC in Denison, Texas, writes: Last week you asked, "All the positives of the offensive change makes you wonder, why didn't TCU make this change earlier?" Well, remember in 2010 when TCU had the most balanced offensive attack possible? That offense worked in the MW, and it might've in the Big 12 too had Pachall played for those two full seasons. Especially with Pachall returning last year, would it really have made as much sense to make the change that quickly?

Chatmon: Yes. Remember why Gary Patterson says he made the move. Not to score more points, not to be more entertaining, he made the move for recruiting. He felt he could attract and keep more talented skill players in the Dallas metro area with this offense. Had he made the move years ago those players would already be in the system. Not to mention the personnel at TCU hasn’t changed much but the results have changed dramatically. Why wouldn’t that have been the right move? But hindsight doesn’t really matter, I’m sure Patterson and the Horned Frog faithful are pretty happy about the change.

Mike in Goldsby writes: I'd like to hear your thoughts on two things. First, I love the drama around the Big 12 round robin title hunt. It seems to produce a down-to-the wire competition regularly, and I think it's much more exciting than the old championship game. How do you feel about it? Second, we've had five different champions in the last five years, and two new teams with a legitimate chance at winning the title this year. What does this say about the depth and parity of the Big 12?

Chatmon: I agree, Mike. I like the Big 12’s scheduling approach, and it has made the homestretch pretty exciting in recent years. I don't think the Big 12 needs a championship game just to say it has one. As far as your other question, the depth of the conference as a whole is pretty awesome. I’m sure it’s not ideal for die-hard fans, because it makes conference and national titles more difficult to achieve, but for a someone who doesn’t care who wins, it’s great to watch. It’s way better than having one or two dominant teams and one or two “title-deciding” games each season. Where’s the fun in that?
In our weekly Big 12 roundtable, we examine the league's most surprising and disappointing offensive and defensive units so far this season:

Which offense has been the most surprisingly effective so far this season?

Brandon Chatmon: TCU is the most surprising offense in the nation, not just the Big 12. The Horned Frogs’ new attack leads the Big 12 at 6.86 yards per play and undoubtedly has made Gary Patterson wonder why he didn’t turn to this high-tempo, pass-happy attack sooner.

Max Olson: We knew West Virginia probably had the firepower to score points. We didn't really know if TCU did. It's not just the play calling, which has been superb. It's the instant adaption by Trevone Boykin and all of his backs and receivers that has made this unit killer.

Jake Trotter: To me, it’s TCU, and it’s not close. The Horned Frogs have gone from having the nation’s 88th-best scoring offense to its No. 1. Even in Gary Patterson’s wildest dreams, I don’t think he envisioned such a turnaround when he hired coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie.

Which offense has been the most disappointing?

Chatmon: I expected more from Texas’ offense with its bevy of talented running backs. True enough the offensive line has been playing musical chairs, sparked by departures, but 137.6 rushing yards per game is a surprising number from Charlie Strong’s team.

Olson: Has to be Texas. Neither Malcolm Brown nor Johnathan Gray has had a 100-yard game and Texas' offensive line is playing like one of the nation's worst. Tyrone Swoopes is doing the best he can with what he's got.

Trotter: You knew Oklahoma State would endure growing pains with so many new starters. But I never thought the offense would fall off a table the way it has. The Cowboys still have explosive playmakers. But the offensive line has been dreadful and the quarterbacking has been inconsistent. As a result, this is the worst Oklahoma State offense since Mike Gundy’s first season in 2005.

Which defense has been the most surprisingly effective?

Chatmon: Baylor had to replace several starters on its 2013 title-winning defense, yet there the Bears are, atop the Big 12 rankings in yards per play for a second straight season (4.4). And their 5.03 yards per play in conference games ranks second in the Big 12. BU’s offense gets the headlines but its defense continues to be the main reason for its title hopes.

Olson: Baylor deserves a ton of credit for not taking a noticeable step back despite losing so many veteran studs. They've had a tough loss and one awfully close call, but you do get the sense they're poised to elevate their play for this stretch run.

Trotter: I thought the Mountaineers had a chance to be better defensively. But I never thought they would be this much better. Tony Gibson and Tom Bradley have done a tremendous job turning around a unit that had been among the Big 12’s worst the previous two years.

Which defense has been the most disappointing?

Chatmon: Oklahoma’s defense looked like it could be one of the nation’s best early this season but has struggled in conference play, allowing 6.2 yards per play, ninth in the Big 12. The Sooners have talent all over the field but haven’t been as dominant as expected in Big 12 stadiums.

Olson: I'll agree with BC that it's the Sooners, but you do have to mention Texas Tech. This was already the Big 12's worst scoring D before giving up 82. Coaching, scheme, execution, talent -- Tech is not in good shape in any area.

Trotter: Oklahoma has a good defense, but it’s not the dominant one we all expected with nine starters back. The Sooners have been exposed these last three weeks. Honorable mention honors here go to Tech, whose defense has gone from bad last year to worse this season.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Big 12 

October, 28, 2014
Oct 28
Even while Texas is losing ball games, it’s managing to find the silver lining in the dark clouds. The Longhorns lost to Kansas State and were shut out for the first time in 10 years, but they won on the recruiting trail, as another ESPN 300 athlete committed Sunday.

Baylor also added to its 2015 class over the weekend. The Bears have some outstanding skill-position players on their current roster, and they have studs within its 2015 class. They added another top skill-position player on Sunday.

Here’s an in-depth look at how the weekend finished in Big 12 recruiting.

Big 12 morning links

October, 28, 2014
Oct 28
Worried about your injured star and/or sued coordinator? We've got you covered today.
  • No clarity emerged Monday on what Texas Tech plans to do with Davis Webb this week. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports Kliff Kingsbury wants to see how Webb practiced Monday -- and, specifically, how he moves around in the pocket and handles the rush -- before knowing whether Webb is good to go or if freshman Patrick Mahomes should make his first career start. So Webb is considered day-to-day for now after exiting the loss to TCU with an injured left ankle.
  • Texas coach Charlie Strong and athletic director Steve Patterson said Monday they're not concerned about the lawsuits between offensive coordinator Joe Wickline and Oklahoma State. Both say they're leaving that issue to lawyers and trust a resolution will be reached. They don't see a nearly $600,000 suit hanging over the head of Texas' co-OC as a potential distraction. They could be right, since Wickline has been dealing with this since March. And, really, Texas has a lot more issues after a 23-0 loss to K-State than the play of its Wickline-coached offensive line.
  • Iowa State is getting arguably its top playmaker back this week just in time to take on Oklahoma. Receiver Jarvis West is back to full speed after missing two games and completing his recovery during ISU's bye week. If you watched his 207-yard performance against Kansas State earlier this season, you know how dangerous West can be and how much he opens up the Cyclones' offensive game plan as well as its special teams. With how Allen Lazard, E.J. Bibbs and D'Vario Montgomery are playing right now, that receiving corps might be sneaky good.
  • Kansas will need all the help it can get against Baylor, so it's a good thing Tony Pierson is fine and ready to return. Having essentially a sprain in the upper neck sounds like a brutal way to get hurt, but Kansas' speedy rusher/receiver got a few days off during the bye and is back in practice. Like West, he's the guy who can really make his offense go and can get his touches in a variety of ways.
  • Coach Art Briles says Baylor did some real soul searching during its bye week. Two important topics: The Bears' conference-record 215 penalty yards in the loss to West Virginia as well as the next step for BU's offensive line, which has lost its right guard and right tackle for the season. A little time off and two weeks of practice is probably the best possible remedy for those challenges as Baylor preps for its run at a Big 12 title.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

October, 27, 2014
Oct 27
Here's what happened on the recruiting trail around the Big 12 this week:

Total commits: 12
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: Houston (Texas) Lamar prospect J.W. Ketchum made it a good bye week for the Bears with his Sunday commitment to Art Briles' program. The four-star athlete picked BU over Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Alabama and others.

Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Defense has been the focus of this recruiting class for the Cyclones. Eight of its 13 commitments are defenders including four defensive linemen. Paul Rhoads squad dealing with small numbers along its defensive front heading into this season but hopes to address some of those issues with a pair of junior college defensive linemen in Larry Jefferson and Xavier Pegues.

Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: It’s been an interesting dynamic in Lawrence, Kansas, where interim coach Clint Bowen landed Olathe (Kansas) North tight end Josh Moore picked KU last week. Moore spurned offers from the majority of the Big 12, Auburn and Ohio State to pledge to the Jayhawks.

Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Bill Snyder’s program dipped into Texas for its latest commitment with McKinney (Texas) North safety Bryce Balous picking the Wildcats last week. The three-star prospect turned down Texas Tech and Iowa to verbal to K-State. The Wildcats also added Pittsburg (Kansas) running back Alex Barnes, who committed to KSU on Monday. The three-star prospect picked KSU over Kansas, Minnesota, Rutgers and others.

Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: The Sooners sent out some offers to Class of 2016 pass-catchers last week with La Canada (California) St. Francis receiver Dylan Crawford and West Hills (California) Chaminade receiver Dymond Lee reportedly receiving offers last week. Both receivers are ESPN Junior 300 members and four-star prospects.

Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 4
The latest: It wasn’t a great day on the field but one ray of light came to Oklahoma State during Saturday’s 34-10 loss to West Virginia as ESPNJr300 member Mike Williams appeared to love his unofficial to OSU, tweeting about his visit multiple times on Saturday.

Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Not only did TCU score big on the field, putting up 82 points against Texas Tech, the Horned Frogs could have scored big on the recruiting trail as well. Gladewater (Texas) defensive tackle Daylon Mack, the No. 15 player in the ESPN 300, loved his official visit to TCU. He’s currently committed to Texas A&M but it appears Gary Patterson’s program definitely gave the elite defensive tackle something to think about.

Total commits: 18
ESPN 300 commits: 9
The latest: ESPN 300 member Cameron Townsend picked Texas on Sunday, becoming the 18th commitment for Charlie Strong’s program. The Missouri City (Texas) Ridge Point linebacker picked UT over Oklahoma, Baylor, TCU, USC, Michigan and others. He is the No. 284 player in the ESPN 300.

Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: Could it get any worse for Kliff Kingsbury’s program? Not only did Tech give up 82 points to TCU, its top 2015 commitment, quarterback Jarrett Stidham, broke his hand over the weekend. The injury shouldn’t impact his future as a Red Raider but there doesn’t seem to be much good news in Lubbock, Texas, right now.

Total commits: 21
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: It could be a critical recruiting weekend with TCU and ESPN’s "College Gameday" heading to Morgantown, West Virginia, on Saturday. Expect several prospects to take advantage of the opportunity with ESPN 300 defensive tackle Tim Settle, ESPN 300 athlete Jordan Cronkite and Army All-American Tim Irvin among the early list of prospects who could be on campus.

Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 9

October, 27, 2014
Oct 27
Taking stock of Week 9 in the Big 12:

Team of the week: TCU scored a school-record 82 points in its thumping of Texas Tech. The 82 points were the most scored in a Big 12 conference game, breaking the previous mark of 77 set by Oklahoma in 2003 against Texas A&M. In 16 possessions, the Horned Frogs scored 10 touchdowns, kicked four field goals and punted twice. It was a masterful performance.

Disappointment of the week: Anytime a team gives up 82 points, it has to be considered a disappointment, and then some. Texas Tech coughed up the ball four times, and the defense surrendered 11 plays of at least 20 yards. The Red Raiders actually trailed just 31-20 in the second quarter before completely collapsing in the second half. With quarterback Davis Webb also injured, the 2014 season just keeps getting worse for Tech.

Big (offensive) man on campus: Pretty much anyone from the TCU offense deserves this honor, but no one more than quarterback Trevone Boykin, who broke a school-record with seven touchdown passes. Boykin also threw for a school-record 433 yards. With the TCU offense steamrolling, Boykin has begun to generate Heisman buzz.

Big (defensive) man on campus: It seemed every time Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes tried to throw downfield, Kansas State safety Dante Barnett was there to knock the pass down in the Wildcats’ 23-0 win. Barnett finished with four pass-breakups and seven tackles, and K-State handed the Longhorns their first shutout in 10 years.

Special-teams player of the week: Place-kicker could have been a huge problem for K-State this season after Jack Cantele missed three field goals in the loss to Auburn. But freshman Matthew McCrane has solidified that spot for the Wildcats. He made all three attempts, giving K-State some breathing room against Texas. McCrane is now 6-of-6 on field goals this season.

Play of the week: West Virginia true freshman free safety Dravon Henry, who had two interceptions in the 34-10 win against Oklahoma State, also delivered the exclamation point. He stepped in front of an errant Daxx Garman throw and returned it 51 yards to put the game away late in the fourth quarter.

Stat of the week: Texas Tech has gone 16 straight games without winning the turnover battle. The Red Raiders lost the turnover battle to TCU, 4-0.

Quote of the week: "Fortunately for us, we didn’t play very well and won a ballgame." -- TCU coach Gary Patterson, after his team beat Texas Tech 82-27.

Life after 82 begins for Texas Tech 

October, 27, 2014
Oct 27
I had a few coaches text me late Saturday and Sunday with just a number: “82.” Sometimes it was followed by exclamation points, other times question marks -- and once it was both.

TCU scored 82 points Saturday against Texas Tech, setting a Big 12 record for a conference game. And when a team scores 82, it also means that a team gave up 82. As high of a high as it was for TCU, it was every bit as low, and embarrassing, for Texas Tech.

Those close to the program said Sunday that, as you’d expect, it was a solemn trip back to Lubbock from Fort Worth.

“At least it was close,” one said.

So what do you do if you’re Kliff Kingsbury, a young, first-time head coach who already was laboring to hold together a limping program? What’s life after 82?

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In Friday's Twitter mailbag, we talk playoff chances, Heisman odds and the Big 12 title race.

Speaking of the Big 12 title race, we’ll be at all three Big 12 games this weekend.

I’m on my way to Manhattan, Kansas, for K-State’s clash with Texas. Brandon will be at West Virginia-Oklahoma State. And Max will be manning Texas Tech-TCU.

Even with only three games, it should be a compelling weekend in the league.

Now, on to the ‘bag:

Trotter: I'm starting to wonder if the Big 12 is going to cannibalize itself out of the playoff. In terms of depth, this is the best this league has been in awhile. But in turn, I'm not sure anyone is going to be able to get through it without two losses. In part because of schedule, TCU is probably the league's best chance. Even then the Horned Frogs would still have to go win in West Virginia next weekend. That won't be easy. Trotter: He probably already would be appearing on straw polls had TCU held on to beat Baylor. All the Big 12 Heisman love went to Bryce Petty after that game. Now, it's going to West Virginia wideout Kevin White. But if the Horned Frogs beat Tech on Saturday, West Virginia next weekend then K-State on Nov. 8, I think you'll see Boykin surge into the Heisman conversation. He has had an amazing season. Trotter: I rank it second, behind the SEC (really, behind the SEC West, because the SEC East stinks outside Georgia). I've caught flak from West Coasters for writing earlier in the week that the Big 12 was second. But other than Oregon, does anyone in the Pac-12 finish in the top four of the Big 12? Trotter: While it would take a minor miracle, Oklahoma is not completely eliminated from the playoff mix yet. If you went back in time with the playoff, there would be teams that would have been selected with two losses. But the Sooners would need an awful lot of help. And quite frankly, Oklahoma will have to play better than it has the last three weeks to run the table anyway. Trotter: This is an impossible question to answer, because it fluctuates based on how each team is doing. And the word "fanbase" could mean many different things. I will say the best game I've been to this year in terms of crowd was the K-State-Auburn game last month. The K-State crowd was awesome for that game, especially the student section. Trotter: FPI gives West Virginia about a 10-percent chance of winning the league. I'd actually peg it a little higher. If the Mountaineers can escape Stillwater this weekend, they have a favorable schedule the rest of the way, with both TCU and K-State having to travel to Morgantown. The Mountaineers would also have the head-to-head tiebreaker over Baylor. So no doubt, at the moment West Virginia has to be considered a contender. Trotter: I'm a huge Curry Sexton fan. Honestly, if he and I walked into a room together, you might have a hard time determining which of us was a college football player -- and that's no compliment to me. But Sexton is a ballplayer. He has incredible hands, deceiving speed and a knack for coming up with big plays in key moments. Sexton is also one of the sharpest guys I've interviewed in the Big 12. And he has filled a major need on the Wildcats as the primary wingman for Tyler Lockett. Sexton is having a tremendous season. Trotter: It's a troubling stat. Eventually it's going to cost the Mountaineers, if they don't clean it up offensively. It was stunning how it didn't doom them early in that game against Baylor. But West Virginia also needs to be more opportunistic on defense. Only Michigan has forced fewer turnovers than the Mountaineers, who have only four takeaways. Turnovers are a big part in determining the outcome of a game. It's hard to see West Virginia overcoming that trend the rest of the season. Trotter: Both have been second-team All-Big 12-caliber players. As I wrote earlier today, Washington is quietly having a terrific year, but Shock Linwood and Samaje Perine will be tough to topple for first-team all-conference honors. Robertson is having the best season on Tech's defense, but Tech's defense is arguably the worst in the league. Plus, linebacker is a loaded position this year. Still, both players have been bright spots in what has been a tough season so far for the Red Raiders. Trotter: The reason is the schedule is so brutal. K-State still has to go win at TCU, West Virginia and Baylor. As well as the Wildcats have played, the chances of them sweeping those three games aren't good. Then again, if the Wildcats did run the table, they would obviously be the Big 12's best - and only -- chance of putting a team in the playoff. Though the Auburn loss would be tricky -- what if the final playoff spot came down to K-State and Auburn? -- the Wildcats at 11-1, with four monster road wins, would be a formidable playoff contender.

Texas Tech at TCU primer

October, 24, 2014
Oct 24
A week after knocking off a top-15 Oklahoma State team at home, TCU welcomes another dangerous foe to Fort Worth.

The No. 10-ranked Horned Frogs look to improve 6-1 and boost their rising College Football Playoff hopes with a win over Texas Tech on Saturday afternoon. Brandon Chatmon and Max Olson break down the matchup.

How Texas Tech can earn the upset: Davis Webb needs to outplay Trevone Boykin, and the Red Raider defense needs to force some turnovers if Kliff Kingsbury’s squad hopes to knock off the nation’s 10th-ranked team. Webb has done a better job of taking care of the football in recent weeks (six touchdowns, two interceptions), but it will be critical for him and the Red Raiders to limit their mistakes while putting together some big plays of their own. -- Chatmon

How TCU can control the game: This might be a survive-and-advance kind of game for TCU. You know the Red Raiders are going to take lots of shots in the pass game. They want a shootout, and they really have nothing to lose. TCU's 42-9 rout of Oklahoma State was a perfect blueprint for controlling a game from start to finish, so we know the Frogs are more than capable of that. Another strong first-half start -- stops, takeaways, red-zone TDs -- would go a long way this week against this inconsistent TTU defense. -- Olson

Texas Tech’s X factor: Running back Justin Stockton has been a big play waiting to happen with five touchdowns in seven games thus far in his career. The true freshman has scored a touchdown in all three Red Raider wins this season and has the ability to make game-changing plays as the second running option in Tech’s attack. He’s averaging 9.6 yards per carry and could be just what the Red Raiders need to pull the upset. -- Chatmon

TCU's X factor: Its diversity of skill talent production. Nine different players recorded rushes or receptions of 10-plus yards against Oklahoma State last week, including Josh Doctson. Anybody else could do it this week. The Horned Frogs' ability to move the ball without relying heavily on any one player can be an asset at this phase of the season and in the playoff chase. -- Olson

What a win would mean for Texas Tech: A win would be huge for Kingsbury’s squad, which has suffered some ups-and-downs during his second season in charge. It would be an unexpected step towards a second straight bowl game and a sign the Red Raiders have shaken off their four-game losing streak with back-to-back wins heading into a showdown with Texas. -- Chatmon

What a win would mean for TCU: Another step toward proving the Horned Frogs are the team to beat in the conference. They had one heck of an October schedule and finishing that stretch with a 3-1 record would be an impressive feat that keeps them right in the middle of the Big 12 title hunt. TCU needs to maintain its momentum, too, because the next two games are a doozy: a trip to West Virginia and a home game against Kansas State. -- Olson
Texas Tech is known for throwing the ball.

But lately, the Red Raiders' most effective offensive weapon has been a running back.

Tech heads to No. 10 TCU this weekend hoping to turn its season around against the Big 12’s highest-ranked team. The Red Raiders (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) desperately need an upset victory to keep their bowl hopes alive.

The player that could give them a chance is emerging running back DeAndre Washington. The past two weeks, Washington has rushed for 296 yards. Perhaps even more impressive, Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury has given him 52 carries in those games. Washington ranks second in the Big 12 at 5.6 yards per carry, and third with an average of almost 89 yards a game. He is on track to become Tech's first 1,000-yard rusher since 1998, when Ricky Williams (the Red Raider, not the Longhorn) ran for 1,168 on his way to earning second-team All-America honors.

[+] EnlargeDeAndre Washington
John Weast/Getty ImagesDeAndre Washington ranks second in the Big 12 at 5.6 yards per carry.
"He’s done a good job the last couple of weeks," Kingsbury said. "He's been running it well and protecting (the ball). So we like to get him going."

Washington has endured plenty of obstacles to reach this point. After a promising true freshman season, he suffered a torn ACL the following year. When he came back, he was behind Kenny Williams on the depth chart. Though he had his good moments, Washington had a couple bad ones, too. Against TCU last season, he caught a swing pass and dashed 49 yards seemingly for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. But Washington celebrated prematurely. He dropped the ball at the half-yard line, resulting in an unsportsmanlike penalty that negated the touchdown (the Red Raiders scored two plays later; and they still won the game).

Washington learned his lesson. Practically the only Red Raider not to get bitten by the mistake bug this season, Washington has yet to fumble. He has proven to be durable. And he has given much-needed balance to the offense.

"I’m feeling pretty good," Washington said. "In the offseason, I tried to take care of my body and get myself mentally prepared, physically prepared for the season. ... That's been the main reason why I've been able to go into games and sustain ... handling a lot of the load with the carries I've had."

To help Washington and add more leadership to the offense, Kingsbury has moved Kenny Williams back to running back after a short-lived experiment at outside linebacker. Together with freshman Justin Stockton, the Red Raiders will feature three capable backs during the second half of the season.

"I'm happy to have him back," Washington said of Williams. “Kenny, he's our war hawk. He'll do a lot of short-yardage. We'll use him in the pass game as well."

This time, though, Williams will be flanking Washington. Although Williams will take away carries, Washington has established himself as the Red Raiders’ primary back. That should give him the shot to become the first 1,000-yard rusher in Tech’s "Air Raid" era.

Still, that is not what Washington has on his mind going into this weekend. Instead, it's on getting a victory to keep bowl hopes alive.

"My freshman year when I came in, we didn't make a bowl game, and that was probably the longest offseason that I’ve ever been a part of in all my years of football," Washington said. "So I definitely don't want to have to endure that feeling again. We're trying to do everything we can to make sure that doesn't happen again. We kind of put ourselves in a hole early on in the season. But that's definitely what we want."

Big 12 viewer's guide: Week 9

October, 24, 2014
Oct 24
In Week 9 of Big 12 action, Kansas State and TCU will attempt to keep their playoff hopes alive, while Texas and Texas Tech will try to take a step on the road toward bowl eligibility. West Virginia, meanwhile, will look to keep rolling at Oklahoma State, which hopes to bounce back after getting blown out last week.

Those, among others, will be the storylines to watch Saturday in the Big 12:

Texas at No. 11 Kansas State, noon ET (ESPN): If the numbers are any indication, Texas won’t get anything easy in this game. Kansas State has allowed only 19 plays of 20 yards or more, which is the fewest given up by any Big 12 defense. The Longhorns have been better offensively the last two weeks. Still, only Kansas and Iowa State have produced fewer 20-yard-plus plays in the Big 12 than the Longhorns. Running backs Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown have also had problems breaking loose from the line of scrimmage. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Texas is averaging 1.4 yards after contact on designed runs, the worst average among Power 5 offenses. The Longhorns will have to be better on the ground to have a chance of pulling the upset in Manhattan, Kansas.

[+] EnlargeClint Trickett
AP Photo/Chris JacksonClint Trickett has thrown 15 touchdown passes and only five interceptions this season.
No. 22 West Virginia at Oklahoma State, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN): How much better has West Virginia QB Clint Trickett been this year? He has improved his Total QBR by 29 points from last season, the third-largest increase among Power 5 QBs, according to ESPN Stats & Information. One reason for the dramatic improvement has been the long ball. Trickett has already thrown eight touchdowns on passes of 20 yards or more, tied for third among Power 5 QBs. He had just one such touchdown pass all of last season. Kevin White, the nation’s leading receiver, has been on the other end of the majority of Trickett’s long throws. White tops the country with 16 receptions of 20 yards or more. Oklahoma State, meanwhile, has been even more reliant on throwing deep. Daxx Garman has 35 completions on passes thrown 15 yards or longer, tied for the most by a Power 5 QB. One thing is certain in this game: The ball will be flying downfield often.

Texas Tech at No. 10 TCU, 3:30 p.m. ET (FOX): Trickett isn’t the only Big 12 QB who has been a completely different player this year. Trevone Boykin’s Total QBR is up 28.7 points from last season, the fifth-largest increase in college football, per ESPN Stats & Information. Thanks in big part to Boykin’s turnaround, the Horned Frogs have featured one of the best big-play offenses in the country. TCU has 13 touchdown drives of three plays or fewer, tied for the most such drives in the country, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Boykin & Co. could add to that total this weekend. Texas Tech's defensive efficiency is the worst among Power 5 teams. Opponents have scored a touchdown on 36 percent of their drives against Tech, the worst percentage of any Power 5 defense. The Red Raiders will probably need their best defensive effort of the year to have any shot at toppling the surging Horned Frogs.



Saturday, 11/1